Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump participated in the first Presidential debate, which was largely a humdrum affair.
By Rakesh Raman
Lester Holt of NBC News was the official moderator, although he hardly had any role in the debate and was mostly sitting like a spectator.
The 90-minute debate was mainly spread over three segments: Prosperity for Americans, Threat of Racism, and Internal Security in America.
However, the discussion went in all directions as Holt had no control on it and he failed to interject the candidates – mainly Donald Trump – who said what they wanted to say ignoring Holt’s basic questions.
Let us see what Clinton and Trump said in different segments of the debate.
1. Prosperity for Americans
Here the focus was on jobs while the basic question was how the candidates will create more local jobs or bring jobs back to America. Clinton said she will create more jobs by providing impetus to the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.
She also said the clean energy is a big emerging area where America can lead the world and it can provide enormous employment opportunities to local Americans. Plus, as the President, her focus will be on small businesses which can offer many jobs. It was a pretty satisfactory response.
However, Trump did not have anything specific to say about employment generation. He offered only a vague response as he has been doing for the past many months.
Instead of explaining his plan to create more job opportunities, Trump kept saying China is stealing our jobs, Mexico is stealing our jobs. He also said hundreds of American companies are leaving America, without telling how he counted this number. Moderator Holt did not bother to stop him.
Although Trump claims he is a big businessman, he failed to appreciate a fundamental business necessity that in today’s globalized world the American companies would hire workers in China, Mexico and other such countries because of cheap labor costs there. And, therefore, he will never be able to bring jobs back to America.
While Trump said he will reduce the corporate tax from 35% to 15% so companies could expand their businesses, Clinton countered him by saying that it will add $5 trillion to America’s debt that has already touched nearly $20 trillion. Trump had no response.
Finally, Clinton said that her economic plan will add 10 million more jobs while in Trump’s scheme of things 3.5 million people will lose their jobs.
Micro Moments of the Debate
– Hillary Clinton was totally focused on the discussion, Trump drank water at least twice – which is a sign of nervousness.
– Clinton waited for her turn to speak, Trump interrupted her on many occasions.
– Clinton was mostly smiling throughout the debate, Trump was frowning.
– Clinton was very respectful to the moderator, Trump shouted at him. “Didn’t you ask me a question?” Trump was angry.
– At the end of the debate, Clinton came to shake hand with the moderator. But Trump went to another direction, although he came back after a few seconds to meet the moderator. Trump looked disturbed.
When Trump was asked to release his own tax returns, he said the audit is not yet complete – which he has been saying for many months. He changed the subject completely and started discussing about the bad quality of American airports.
Only God knows how his tax returns are connected with airports. Moderator Holt did not ask, Trump did not reply. But Clinton said Trump is trying to hide something terrible about his financial transactions.
The discussion moves to the next segment.
2. Threat of Racism
As America is witnessing a menacing racial divide mainly targeting African Americans, how will these candidates overcome the predicament?
Once again, Clinton had a pointed reply. She said she would reform the Criminal Justice System to hold people accountable and will help communities work together. Gun violence is also a matter of concern for her and she would see that guns stay away from criminals.
She also said that she will put an end to the private prison system because private prisons are being used to unnecessarily incarcerate people most of whom belong to minority communities. Training and retraining of police officers is another area that she wants to address.
Trump had no specific solution for this problem too. Instead of candidly admitting that it is a racial unrest, he said it is a law & order problem. But instead of telling about his plan to solve the problem, he again just said African Americans and Hispanics are living in a hell. They get shot when they go out on the street.
Trump failed to understand a simple fact that American voters do not want him to highlight the problems; they want solutions from him. Trump did not have any.
He was also questioned about his racial tendencies, as he had been raising the issue of President Barack Obama’s birthplace. He failed to handle that question.
Moderator moved to the last segment.
3. Internal Security in America
Although this discussion was supposed to be about the security of local Americans as there have been multiple incidents of attacks and killings in American cities, the discussion went totally haywire. Perhaps, the moderator himself did not understand the subject.
Both the candidates uttered whatever they could about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists, Russia’s hacking capabilities, North Korea’s nuclear weapons, NATO’s role in the middle east, and whatnot. Moderator Lester Holt was just not available to get the right answers from Clinton or Trump.
Trump said ISIS is a creation of Obama and Clinton, and now it has spread its tentacles to nearly 30 different nations. Clinton said Trump should never be allowed access to America’s nuclear weapons, as he can be provoked even with a 140-character tweet.
Lastly, Trump was caught off guard when moderator Holt asked why he said Hillary Clinton does not have the looks to become the President. Trump tried to hide the truth and said he was talking about her weak stamina. Clinton was just smiling.
But when she counted her number of working hours including her foreign tours to give an estimate of her capacity to work hard, Trump was silent with a long face.
The second presidential debate will happen Sunday, October 9. The U.S. presidential election is scheduled to take place Tuesday, November 8, 2016.