Clinton Assails Trump in Blistering Debate
By Steve Holland and John Whitesides (Reuters)
Democrat Hillary Clinton accused Republican Donald Trump of racism, sexism and tax avoidance, putting him on the defensive during a 2016 U.S. presidential debate rife with blistering insults and short on policy.
Trump, a real estate tycoon making his first run for public office, said Clinton's long years of service represented "bad experience" with few results and said she lacked the stamina to serve as commander-in-chief.
Clinton was under pressure to perform well after a bout with pneumonia and a drop in opinion polls, but her long days of preparation appeared to pay off in her highly anticipated first 90-minute standoff with Trump.
Trump, a former reality TV star who eschewed a lot of debate practice, was strong early on but appeared to become repetitive and more undisciplined as the night wore on in front of a televised audience that could have reached upwards of a record 100 million people.
A CNN/ORC snap poll said 62 percent of respondents felt Clinton won and 27 percent believed Trump was the winner.
In signs that investors awarded the debate to Clinton also, Asian shares recovered from an early bout of nerves while the Mexican peso surged on Tuesday. Her chances in the Nov. 8 election improved also on online betting markets.
"You feel good tonight?" Clinton asked supporters after the event. "I sure do. We had a great debate."
Trump, 70, declared himself the winner to reporters at the debate site, then opted against a visit to a local debate watch party that his staff had left open as a possibility.
The 68-year-old Clinton relentlessly sought to raise questions about her opponent's temperament, business acumen and knowledge.
Trump used much of his time to argue the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state had achieved little in public life and wants to pursue policies begun by President Barack Obama that have failed to repair a shattered middle class, with jobs lost to outsourcing and over-regulation.
Trump suggested her disavowal of a trade deal with Asian countries was insincere. Her handling of a nuclear deal with Iran and Islamic State militancy were disasters, he argued.
In one of their more heated exchanges, Clinton accused Trump of promulgating a "racist lie" by suggesting Obama, the first U.S. African-American president, was not born in the United States.
The president, who was born in Hawaii, released a long-form birth certificate in 2011 to put the issue to rest. Only this month did Trump say publicly that he believed Obama was U.S.-born.
"He (Trump) has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it. But he persisted. He persisted year after year," Clinton said.
Trump repeated his false accusation that Clinton's failed 2008 presidential campaign against Obama had initiated the so-called "birther" issue.
"Nobody was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it ... I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate and I think I did a good job," Trump said.
Trying to get under Trump's skin and provoke a volcanic eruption, Clinton suggested Trump was refusing to release his tax returns to avoid showing Americans he paid next to nothing in federal taxes or that he is not as wealthy as he says he is.
"It must be something really important, even terrible, that he's trying to hide," she said.
Trump fought back, saying that as a businessman, paying low taxes was important.
"That makes me smart," Trump said.
"I have a tremendous income," he said at one point, adding that it was about time that someone running the country knew something about money.
Trump sniffed loudly at points - a campaign aide said the candidate had no cold - but largely contained himself. He said he would release his tax documents after a government audit.
But Clinton, the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party, seemed to pique Trump's ire when she brought up Trump's past insults about women.
"He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them and he called this one 'Miss Piggy' and then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping,'" she said.
During the debate Trump darkly hinted at wanting to stay something but stopped short. Afterwards he told reporters he had thought of raising the sex scandal involving Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, who was in the audience with their daughter Chelsea."I was going to say something extremely tough to Hillary and her family and I said I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate, it's not nice," he said.
Beforehand there was much speculation about how much debate moderator Lester Holt should intervene to correct facts, and the NBC News anchorman largely left the candidates to fight it out, interjecting a few times to set the record straight.
Trump repeated his campaign assertion that he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, despite having voiced support for it in a 2002 interview. "The record shows otherwise," Holt challenged him. "The record does not show that," Trump shot back.
At other times, the candidates corrected each other.
Toward the end of the debate, Trump said Clinton did not have the endurance to be president but avoided mentioning her bout this month with pneumonia.
"She doesn't have the look, she doesn't have the stamina," he said.
Clinton retorted: "As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents ... or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina."
Clinton called Trump's tax policies "Trumped-up trickle-down" economics and Trump accused Clinton of being "all talk, no action."
"I have a feeling I'm going to be blamed for everything," Clinton said during one tough exchange.
"Why not?" retorted Trump.
The Mexican peso, dubbed the "Trump thermometer" because of its sensitivity to the U.S. presidential campaign, climbed 2 percent. Trump has pledged to build a wall at the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration. [MXN=D2]
Debate Breaks Record As Most-Watched in US History
More than 80 million people tuned in to see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off, setting a new record in the sixty-year history of televised presidential debates. The final numbers are still being tallied, but the debate averaged a total of 81.4 million viewers across the 12 channels that carried it live.
- Trump and Trade
- The Appeal of Trump's America First
- Obama's Presidency by the Numbers
- The Russian Honeypot
- Will Trump Get a Handle on Things?
- Draining the Swamp How-To Guide
- Exploding Inequality is Killing Democracy
- Calling Working People of All Colors
- Reducing Inequality in the Trump Era
- Donald Trump, the Middle East, and American Foreign Policy
- Jeff Sessions: Trump's Most Dangerous Cabinet Pick
- Trump and the Iran Nuclear Deal
- United States Presidential Inaugurations
- Trump Set To Become The Oldest President
- The American Public's Assessment Of Obama's Two Terms
- Obama's Legacy: Growth, Debt & Employment
- Trump Currency Bump: Jubilant Ruble & Declining Peso
- Trump and Israel: Big-League Issues and Huge Repercussions
- How Trump Changed Everything (2016-2020)
- The Crusades Are Back, With a Vengeance
- How Inequality Undermines Democracy
- Crony Capitalism Made Rick Perry Energy Secretary
- From Here to Dystopia
- Trump Taking on Wall Street, Literally
- Who Voted for Wall Street?
- Foreign Meddling in Our Vote
- Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un: Soul Brothers?
- The Pentagon's $125-Billion Cover-up
- The Year of 'Post-Truth'
- Americans Think Fake News Has an Impact
- American Cities With the Highest Murder Rates
- Populist Challenge and Political Judgement
- The Last Days of Democracy?
- Trump, China and Hawkish Campaign Rhetoric
- The Dangers of Big Philanthropy
- A New Populism in the Trump Era
- Explaining Donald Trump's Victory
- Political Earthquake With No Precedent
- What Election Analysts Can Learn
- How Obama's Legacy Lost the Election
- Big Money Won in 2016
- America's Dark Underbelly Is Now Its Face
- The Statue of Trumperty
- Trump Doesn't Sound Like Our Voice
- This Election Wasn't About Trump
- Bartleby the American
- Sorry, I Can't Give Trump a Chance
- Obama's Foreign Policy Legacy
- Uncle Sam Needs a Better Handle on Your Money
- Careful What You Wish For
- How to Strengthen Our Democracy Beyond Voting
- An Appetite for Action on Tax Reform
- Trump vs Clinton: The Final Round
- 2016 Election Results
- 2016 Election Polls & Results
- Trump is the Nation's Abuser-in-Chief
- Hillary Clinton and the Neocons
- How Voter Turnout Could Put Trump in The White House
- Trump the Arsonist
- Us vs Them: How Neurophilosophy Explains Our Divided Politics
- It's Rigged: Takes One to Know One
- Walling Them Out, or Walling Us In?
- A Historic Election for Women and Not Just Because of Hillary
- The Myth of Trump's Alternative Worldview
- Hillary Clinton: A Hawk in the Wings
- The Future of Civil Rights is Up To the Supreme Court
- How Accurate are Election Polls?
- What Would Happen If Donald Trump Decided to Challenge the Election Results
- Republicans Would Reject 'Rigged' Election Result If Hillary Clinton Wins
- My Trump-Like Bully
- Is Trump Committed to Democratic Rule of Law?
- Trump Was Born on Third Base
- Clinton Expands Into 'Red' States; Trump Again Claims Fraud
- Clinton Wins All Three Debates
- The Best and Worst Presidents on Taxes
- Revolutions Don't End On Election Day
- Hillary's Surprising Debate Stumble on Trade
- Scott Walker's Political Magic
- Prominent GOP Leaders Denouncing Trump
- The Reduction of Muslim Americans
- Wikileaks Offers Glimpse of Clinton Team's Early Thoughts on Trump
- Presidential Debate: Supreme Court, the Second Amendment & Abortion
- Presidential Debate: Immigration, Russian Involvement in the US Election
- Presidential Debate: Taxes, Trade Deals & Foreign Military Aid
- Presidential Debate: Presidential Fitness
- Presidential Debate: Foreign Hot Spots
- Forbes Pegs Trump's Wealth at $3.7 Billion, $800 Million Less Than Last Year
- Trump's 1995 Tax Records Suggest No Federal Taxes For Years
- Clinton Assails Trump in Blistering Debate
- Trump Unable to Capitalize
- Clinton's Odds of Winning Presidency Jumps
- Clinton vs Trump Debate by the Numbers
- Presidential Debate Reaction
- Presidential Debate Perspectives from Asia
- Trump's Debate Sniffles
- Clinton vs Trump Debate Photos
Politics: "Clinton Assails Trump in Blistering Debate"