By: Bharati Ganesh
The first Presidential debate of the 2016 election season was held on September 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Media coverage of the debate was incessant, and millions of viewers tuned in. Here is a roundup of some memorable and interesting moments from the debate.
- Donald Trump defends birtherism
- Moderator Lester Holt asked Trump if he had anything to say to the African-American community for denying that President Obama was born in the United States. Trump replied, “I say nothing.” He continued to claim that Clinton was responsible for the spread of the birther movement. This was yet another unfortunate incident in which Trump could not seem to let go of right-wing conspiracy theories, in which he bragged about forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate. Somehow, in this part of the debate, the Republican nominee managed to disgust me even more than usual. Spearheading the birther movement was how Trump waded into the world of He was able to connect with voters who were uncomfortable with the idea of a black President—a sentiment deemed too taboo to discuss—foreshadowing his rise in the Republican Party years later.
- Trump’s tax returns and Clinton’s deleted emails
- Of course, when Clinton attacked Trump for not releasing his tax returns, I knew he would reference her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. Trump did not disappoint, and he welcomed the applause in response to this statement: “I will release my tax returns-against my lawyer’s wishes—when she releases her 33,000 emails that were deleted.” But Clinton had already set the trap for Trump, goading him into claiming that he was smart because he did not have to pay any income taxes—which made for a wonderful sound bite following the debate. She also challenged his claim that he could not release his tax returns because he was being audited. It was interesting to see two candidates, both of whom are widely regarded as untrustworthy, attempt to convince viewers that their opponent was the most dishonest instead of trying to prove their own honesty.
- Hillary Clinton does have stamina
- During the debate, Trump attempted to insinuate that Clinton did not have the stamina to be president. In light of Clinton leaving the September 11 remembrance event after feeling faint, Trump supporters propagated rumors that a terminally ill Clinton was trying to fool the American people into voting for her. It was ridiculous to claim that Clinton was weak, considering that she has withstood numerous scandals designed to derail her political career over the last two decades. So Trump decided to show off the fact that he had travelled across the nation to listen to voters and criticized Clinton for “staying at home.” Clinton then slammed Trump with what was arguably one of the best comebacks of the night. “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president.” Her eloquent one-liners stood in stark contrast to his bizarre rambling, emphasizing that she was a more qualified candidate for President.