Trump and Clinton clash in first TV duel

By  Evelyne Wareh/Agencies

U.S Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has questioned his Democrat counterpart Hillary Clinton’s stamina, saying the former Secretary of State lacks the temperament needed to become President of the United States.

In a live debate that lasted 90 minutes, the two Presidential Candidates came face to face with many expecting both to poke holes at each other’s campaign

Moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate touched on a number of issues affecting the American voter, among them Trade, Immigration, and Security

Donald Trump went after Clinton, accusing her of lacking stamina and temperament to become President

Clinton on the other hand demanded that Trump be made to explain why he has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns despite calls to do so throughout his campaign

The war in Iraq and the fight against the Islamic State also featured in the debate, with both candidates taking varied views on the matter, with Trump accusing Clinton of using her private email to transact official business

A poll of debate watchers released after the event found 62% felt Clinton won compared to 27% for Trump. The poll suggests the debate audience was a bit more Democratic than the public as a whole, same level with the Democratic tilt in the audience that watched the first debate in 2008 between Obama and John McCain.

This debate is the first of a three part series, with the candidates expected to yet again face each other on October 9th and 19th before heading to the polls on Tuesday, November 8th.

The New York showdown could be the most watched debate in TV history, with up to 100 million viewers. Hours before the programme, polls suggested the candidates were locked in a dead heat, adding to the tension between the rivals on stage throughout the debate.

“I have a feeling that by the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened,” Mrs Clinton quipped when prompted to respond after one of Mr Trump’s attacks.

“Why not?” Mr Trump interrupted.

“Yeah, why not,” she answered. “You know, just join the debate by saying more crazy things.” Mr Trump was later thrown on the defensive by moderator Lester Holt for not disclosing his tax returns.

He claimed he was under a “routine audit” and would release the document once the audit was finished.

But the hotel developer promised he would release them if his opponent released 33,000 emails that were deleted during an investigation into her private email set-up while secretary of state. Mrs Clinton made a brief response to Mr Trump’s attacks about her use of a private email server – which has haunted her on the campaign trail.

She said there were no excuses for the “mistake” and that she takes responsibility for it.

But she was also uncomfortable when defending her changing position on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Donald Trump is the consummate salesman. Rules, tradition, even the truth are only relevant in so much as they help seal the deal.

The weaknesses of this approach is the perception that the salesman is all talk and no substance – a problem that can be exacerbated by 90 minutes under the debate spotlight.

In the end, the lawyerly preparations paid off for Mrs Clinton as she controlled the evening with forensic precision.

While Trump had a strategy – and pursued it on occasion – he was often blown off course by the former secretary of state and torpedoed by his own sometimes badgering performance.

While Mrs Clinton was occasionally prone to know-it-all-ness – particularly in her repeated appeals to outside fact-checkers – she largely maintained the upper hand.

Other debate highlights:

  • He said she did not have the stamina to be president, to which she replied that she visited 112 countries as secretary of state
  • African Americans are living “in hell” in the US due to gun violence, Mr Trump said
  • Mrs Clinton criticised him for saying climate change was a Chinese hoax
  • She was attacked by him for being weak on Islamic State militants and soft on Iran
  • “You’ve been fighting Isis [Islamic State group] your entire adult life,” Mr Trump mocked
  • In a wider assault on his treatment of women, she said he had called women “pigs, slobs and dogs”

One key exchange was over Mr Trump’s long-held belief that President Barack Obama was born outside the US, a position he finally reversed two weeks ago.

“He has a long record of engaging in racist behaviour,” she said, adding that it was a “very hurtful” lie that annoyed and bothered the first African American president.

When asked by Mr Holt to explain his change in stance, he said he wanted to concentrate on bigger, more important issues.

She attacked him for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, and suggesting he “find” her emails.

“I was so shocked when Donald publicly invited Putin to hack into Americans. That is just unacceptable… Donald is unfit to be commander-in-chief.”

The debate was the first of three between the two candidates, and the American voters go to the polls on 8 November.

 

 

 

 

 

  

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