Your Debate Break Down, Point by Point

Sarah Jacobo, Contributing Writer

The first presidential debate on Monday, September 26, was the most watched debate in history because of the hyped showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The polls were close and Trump was becoming what some call “more presidential” by threatening Hillary’s claims that he is not fit.

During the debate,  moderated by Lester Holt, Trump hit Clinton on the North American Free Trade Agreement and the importance of trade on everyday working Americans. He also focused on the importance of tax cuts for businesses and companies that could provide more jobs for America. Clinton countered with her plan to tax people who make more than $250,000 a year and the money would be invested in making college debt free and helping kids get a better education. Trump made the point that jobs are leaving the United States because of the rates companies are charged and people are being laid off because the companies are finding lower production costs in other countries.

Thirty minutes into the debate, Trump ]started defending his own reputation as a businessman instead of staying focused on his message. Some believed Hillary forced Trump to go off topic by talking about his tax returns. She continued to bait him to defend his ego and not his policies, which lead to Trump saying that he was smart because he has not paid income tax. The rest of the debate was about who could hit the other candidate the hardest on personal matters.

The last blow Hillary delivered was Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe from 1996, kick starting the investigation into Trump’s treatment of woman for the rest of the week. By the end of the debate both candidates only covered their trade policies and attacked each other for the rest of the debate. Trump had plenty of opportunities to exploit Clinton’s untrustworthiness among voters and her emails, but continued to defend himself. Hillary was criticized for her smiles and her shimmy. The post-debate was crucial for both candidates because the voters watched how the candidates would reflect on their performances. Hillary was excited because the CNN/ORC poll after the debate claimed she won the debate, while Donald Trump claimed victory at his rally the next day.

The lead up to the second debate was more excruciating for everyone. On the Friday before the debate on Sunday, October 9, there was a leaked tape from Access Hollywood with Trump in it talking about forcing himself on women. The story ran through the news up until two hours before the debate on Sunday. Trump held a press conference with three of Bill Clinton’s accusers and one woman who accuses Hillary Clinton protecting a rapist – Hillary was the defendant’s court appointed public defender.

Hillary, on the other hand, was fighting off the newly released emails from WikiLeaks from her campaign manager, John Podesta, which showed the inner workings of her campaign and how the campaign talked about Chelsea Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and many others.

When the actual debate started, the candidates came out in stage and did not shake hands in the most awkward opening yet. The first question from Anderson Cooper was if Trump did to women what he said he did on the tape from Access Hollywood. Trump denied it and called it “locker room talk.”

After Hillary’s anticipated reaction to the video, there was backlash from Trump because he continued to claim all of the accusations were lies. When Clinton was confronted about the WikiLeaks emails she pivoted on to Abraham Lincoln and used him as a justification to have a private and public opinion. She then went on to blame the Russians for the WikiLeaks leak.

Throughout the debate Hillary and Trump answered questions from the moderators and the undecided voters. Energy, Islamophobia, behavior, the Supreme Court, and Syria were some of the topics covered. When asked about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Trump said he believed Aleppo has already fallen. Martha Raddatz then asked Trump about his plan to help Syria and reminded him about what his VP, Pence, said. Trump said that he disagreed with his running mate and that Aleppo is a mess, while also addressing ISIS’s control over Gaddafi’s oil, lack of knowledge of who the rebels are in Syria, and how he believes our foreign policy is weak.

Trump would stand a few feet behind Hillary while she answered a question, standing in what many called her “personal space.” The last question of the debate was important to the voters, asking what is one quality each candidate admired in the other? Hillary replied first with how she admired Trump’s children and that they reflect him. Trump then said he liked that Hillary was a fighter and she never quits. They closed with a handshake and calmer ending than the third debate. By the CNN/ORC poll after the debate Hillary was deemed the winner, but by a smaller margin than the first debate.

The third debate take place on Wednesday, October 19 and was filled with the more tension than any of the other presidential debates.  Trump and Clinton walked out, waved to the crowd, and took their spots behind their podiums. Trump opened with a calm tone and addressed importance of the Supreme Court decision and how he believes Hillary’s choices would be bad for the Republicans and the party’s values. Trump’s strongest topic, immigration, made him excited when Hillary’s WikiLeaks email was exposed by saying that she one day dreamed about “open trade and open borders.”  Clinton again claimed that the hack was by Russia.

Current New York Times poll.
New York Times
Current New York Times poll as of October, 20, 2016.

Trump once again started to lose his composure and attacked Clinton on her request for more Syrian refugees to be accepted into the U.S. and he grew annoyed that Hillary would never say “radical islamic terrorism.” Clinton claimed the emails and the whole election was being swayed by Russia, who would like to have Trump as a puppet president. She also attacked Trump on his plan to abandon allies because they do not pay for U.S. protection.

After the segment on Syria, they moved into the economy of the U.S. Trump backtracked to defend himself from Hillary’s claims. He lost his composure when confronted by Chris Wallace, the moderator, about the nine women who alleged Trump sexually assaulted them, by calling their stories fake and made up by the Clinton campaign. He used the tape that came out the day before as evidence of democratic meddling. The video was a couple of people talking about how to insight violence at Trump rallies. Trump went further to use the video as evidence of why there was a riot at the Trump rally, later cancelled, in Chicago.

Then, while debating stances on Aleppo again Clinton and Trump started to get into a heated debate. Trump continued to bring up “Bernie said she [Hillary] has bad judgement” and Hillary fired back with “ask Bernie who he is supporting for president.” The debate focused more on policies than the first two and continued to address the main questions citizens have. When asked about if they would support the outcome of the election, Clinton said she would and Trump said he would wait till the results came in. His response was questioned a couple more times by Wallace and Trump stuck with his answer.

In closing the debate, Clinton replied first with saying she wanted to reach all Americans and be a champion for women and families across the country. Trump’s closing statement was that he wanted to “make America great again” and he would do more for African Americans and Latinos than Hillary. The debate ended without a handshake or respected nod, making the ending of this debate series, just like the election, a stressful and excruciating process.