Donald Trump And Hillary Clinton Spar — And Get Personal — In First Presidential Debate

REUTERS/Mike Segar

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sparred over trade, her emails, his taxes, crime, racism and other topics during the first general election debate, getting personal as Clinton attacked the Republican’s character and Trump dismissed the Democrat’s attempts to “act holier than thou.”

During an exchange where Clinton attacked Trump for once questioning Obama’s birthplace, Trump memorably countered by saying: “When you try to act holier than thou, it really doesn’t work. It really doesn’t.”

Interestingly, several topics — which could have helped Trump and hurt Clinton — did not come up during the debate, including about the Clinton Foundation and the Benghazi attacks.

Supporters of Trump are blaming NBC’s Lester Holt, the moderator, for the omission, though others point out that the Republican candidate could have brought them up on his own.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani told The Daily Caller Holt acted “extremely unfairly.”

“Where were the questions on the Clinton Foundation or Benghazi or her email server?” said Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center. “These are the questions that drive right to the heart of whether Hillary is ready to be president and yet viewers tuning in tonight heard nothing about these important issues.

The 90-minute debate at Hofstra University begun with an argument over trade — a signature issue for Trump. The attacks intensified as the night went on.

“The kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again,” Clinton said. “In fact it would be the most extreme version the biggest tax cuts for the top percents of the people in this country than we’ve ever had. I call it trumped up trickle-down because that’s exactly what it would be.”

Trump told Clinton: “Your husband signed NAFTA, one of the worst things to ever happen in manufacturing…NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe signed anywhere but certainly this country…You called it the gold standard. You call it the gold standard of trade too.”

In an apparent attempt to bait Trump, Clinton seemed to criticize Trump for using his father’s money to get his business started. “You know, Donald was very fortunate in his life and that’s all to his benefit. He started his business with $14 million borrowed from his father.”

Trump rebutted Clinton: “Typical politician. All talk, no action. Sounds good. Doesn’t work. Never going to happen. Our country is suffering because people like Secretary Clinton have made such bad decisions in terms of our jobs and in terms of what is going on.”

Speaking of Trump refusal to release his tax returns, Clinton made the accusation that “there is something he is hiding.”

Under questioning, Trump reiterated his pledge that he will release his tax returns after an audit is completed. He also made another offer.

“I will release my tax returns against my lawyer’s wishes when she releases her thirty three thousand e-mails that have been deleted,” Trump said.

Asked about her email scandal, Clinton said: “You know I made my mistake using a private email.”

Trump replied: “That’s for sure,” adding: “That was more than a mistake. That was done purposely. That was not a mistake. Was done purposely.”

Debating crime, Trump said: “I do want to bring up the fact that you were the one that brought up the word ‘super predator’ about young black youth. And that’s a term that I think was that’s been horribly met as you know. I think you’ve apologized for it. But I think it was a terrible thing to say.”

Clinton continued to attack Trump over his past questioning of Barack Obama’s birthplace.

“He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen,” Clinton said. “There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted. … He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.”

Trump replied by saying Clinton allies initially spread the rumor, saying he is satisfied that Obama is a citizen. “Because I want to get on to fighting ISIS, because I want to get on to creating jobs.”

Trump also accused Clinton of treating Obama with disrespect when she ran against him.

Talking about his schedule, Trump said: “I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home and that’s OK.”

Clinton responded. “I think Trump just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes I did. And you know what else I prepared for? Prepared to be president and I think that’s a good thing.”

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