Laura Catron ‘17 & Morgan Brown ‘17 — Not everyone held the pleasure of viewing the Presidential Debate on Monday night, so for those who didn’t, let us break it down. Laura will be reviewing Secretary Clinton’s points and Morgan will review Trump’s. The debate took place at Hofstra University and was moderated by Lester Holt. Laura watched the debate via MSNBC, and Morgan watched it via Fox News.

The debate was separated by six “fifteen minute” sections.

1. Achieving Prosperity

“Why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers?”

Laura: Secretary Clinton spoke of supporting small business and the middle class, alongside raising minimum wage. She also spoke on creating jobs in the clean energy business.

To refute Trump’s claim, Secretary Clinton remarked that the United States needs smarter trade deals and that our trading partners must be kept responsible. Criticism’s of Trump’s trickle-down economic plan peppered the conversation as well. Secretary Clinton pointed out that a similar economic plan led to the recession in 2008.

Morgan: Trump focused on his plan to stop American jobs from fleeing the country by reducing taxes and encouraging companies to build and expand. He also mentioned renegotiating our trade deals, claiming that NAFTA, which was put into place during the Clinton reign of office, is one of the worst trade deals we’ve ever passed.

To glorify his role as a political outsider, Trump repeated the same question several times in this section: “Secretary Clinton, you’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now?”


  1.  Tax Differences

“Secretary Clinton, you’re calling for a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. I’d like you to further defend that. And, Mr. Trump, you’re calling for tax cuts for the wealthy. I’d like you to defend that.”

L: Secretary Clinton stated previously that supporting the middle class is the best way to support the nation as a whole. In order to do so, she plans to work to make college debt-free. She will focus on broad-based, inclusive growth.

In this segment, Secretary Clinton’s email scandal was brought up. Secretary Clinton easily admitted to her mistake and apologized for it, saying that she would do it over if she could.

M: Trump argued that allowing the wealthy to freely expand their businesses with fewer taxes and regulations will actually help the middle class since it will create jobs. Once again, Trump blamed the “all talk, no action” attitude of politicians for the downfall of the economy.

Holt interrogated Trump on why he hasn’t released his tax returns, and Trump replied that he will release them as soon as Clinton releases her 33,000 deleted emails, which he called “disgraceful”.


  1. Race Relations

“The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it’s been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African-Americans by police, as we’ve seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap. So how do you heal the divide?”

L: In order to breach this growing racial gap, Secretary Clinton will work to restore trust between police forces and communities. Her plan is to provide better training for police forces, including training on how to combat implicit racial bias. The increasing amount of mental health problems faced by cops will be addressed as well.

Secretary Clinton also stressed that too many African American and Latino men end up in jail for nonviolent crimes.

Additionally, Secretary Clinton brought up reform on gun laws. She plans to conduct comprehensive background checks on gun owners and prohibit citizens on the no-fly list from buying guns.

M: Trump emphasized the concept of law and order to combat violence within dangerous inner cities. He expressed a need for more police and a more positive relationship between police officers and the African American community, who Trump claims have been “abused and used in order to get votes by Democrat politicians”.

One point that Trump agreed with Hillary on involved keeping guns from those on the no-fly list, but overall, Trump discussed only taking guns away from criminals and gang members.

To support his argument, Trump mentioned his club in Palm Beach, Florida, which is a no discrimination club, as well as his endorsements from the NRA and the Fraternal Order of Police.


  1. Securing America

“We want to start with a 21st century war happening every day in this country. Our institutions are under cyber attack, and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is, who’s behind it? And how do we fight it?”

L: In this segment, Secretary Clinton proclaimed that cybersecurity is one of the most important threats our country faces. She believes the hackers hail from independent groups in search of money as well as from state enemies. Russia was specifically mentioned. In order to combat the issue, the country needs to work more closely with its allies.

M: Trump brought up the threat of ISIS and the corrupt Iran deal, both of which he blames a Democratic administration for. Trump argues that Clinton could have “taken out ISIS” when it first formed rather than waiting for it to grow.

In this segment, Trump was accused of supporting the Iran war, which he actually claimed that he opposed, citing three different interviews where he argued against it.


  1. Nuclear Policy

“On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy?” (Essentially, no first use means you won’t use nuclear weapons unless you are first attacked by them. The United States rejected the no first use policy.)


L: In short, Secretary Clinton does not plan on changing the nation’s first use policy, as there are no immediate threats from enemy countries. She believes that our independent mutual defense treaties are currently enough to ensure nuclear safety. Secretary Clinton also stressed that the nation must reinforce to the rest of the world that our promises regarding nuclear weapons are good.

M: Trump emphasizes that the single greatest threat that America faces is nuclear armament, and that we must be prepared for any possible attacks. However, he stresses that we cannot be “the policemen of the world”, and that other countries must start helping us out, something he would negotiate as president.


  1. The final question was whether or not each candidate would accept the other’s win, if it were to happen. Both candidates ultimately answered yes.


Final Thoughts


Laura: Overall, all of my personal doubts about Secretary Clinton’s candidacy disappeared during this debate. Her policies are intelligent and she knows how to execute her plans. But her competence and experience were never under fire, at least from me.

People have rightfully accused Secretary Clinton of being a liar. Nobody is denying that, especially the Secretary herself. What truly shows her strength is her admittance to past faults. She has lied during her 30 year political career, yes, but Trump managed to lie more than that in any given 30 minute portion of Monday’s debate. He constantly contradicts himself by changing his stances on policies and refusing to acknowledge his past mistakes. He is proud of his past bullying, as exemplified by his behavior towards Alicia Machado.

Secretary Clinton truly proved herself with her composure during this debate. Despite being interrupted 51 times by the Trump, Secretary Clinton showed her patience. Her smile stayed on her face for the entirety of the program, which is amazing in itself. Really, Secretary Clinton said it best, “I prepared to be president.”

Morgan: I saw a new side of Donald Trump during this debate. His formerly uncontrolled attitude shifted for his first presidential debate as the Republican nominee, and he displayed a comparatively poised and respectful attitude. He refrained from using the strategy of personal attacks, like he did with the Republican candidates, and he showed a sense of respectful disagreement.

I think Trump accomplished exactly what he needed to: he drilled into the minds of voters that America will crumble under another four years of a corrupt politician in office. After watching this debate, I have a little more faith that Donald Trump could make America great again.

The next presidential debate is scheduled for October 9th, and the vice presidential debate is scheduled for October 4th.


This is the transcript of the debate.


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