Trump, Clinton focus on economic policy, race relations in first debate

Stuart Smith

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke about economic policies, racial relations in the country and job growth at the first debate of the election season Monday night.

Immediately after the debate, most people believed Clinton had won, according to a CNN/ORC poll. The poll showed that 62 percent of viewers believed that Clinton had won the debate, against 27 percent who believed that Trump had won.


The 90-minute debate was held at Hofstra University in New York and hosted by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt.

Going into the debate, Donald Trump led Hillary Clinton 42 percent to 41 percent in Colorado, according to a poll by CNN/ORG.

Nationally, however, an average of five recent polls, compiled by Real Clear Politics, showed Clinton leading Trump 46.2 percent to 44 percent.

By the end of the night, both candidates used personal attacks. Trump closed by saying Clinton, “doesn’t have the [Presidential] look, she doesn’t have the stamina,” to which she shot back that he is, “a man that has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs.”

The first 85 minutes of the debate, however, were filled with discussion of policy and past actions of both individuals.

The host, Lester Holt, began with a question on how each candidate differs from the other, and why they would do a better job of improving the economy and job growth.

Clinton dropped immediately into an answer about increasing regulation of businesses and closing loopholes.

Trump said that “our jobs are fleeing the country . . . we’re losing our good jobs.”

“We have to renegotiate our trade deals and keep these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs,” Trump said.

Several minutes later, when the debate had shifted to how their economic plans would affect the country, Clinton claimed that “Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis,” which he promptly denied.


He then started attacking Clinton’s support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by her husband Bill Clinton during his tenure as president, saying that it was “the worst trade deal.”

Following that, he attacked the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement that was signed by 12 separate Pacific Rim countries in February of this year.

Trump went on to speak about his economic plan for just the country, claiming that his tax cut would be, “the biggest since Ronald Reagan.”

Clinton responded by striking against Reagan’s trickle down economics.

“(Trickle down economics) did not work… slashing taxes on the wealthy did not work,” Clinton said.

There was not much time spent on Clinton’s emails or Donald Trump’s tax returns, except a short exchange when Holt asked Trump why he has not submitted his tax returns publicly.

Trump responded to Holt’s question by saying that he will “release his tax returns… when she releases her 33,000 emails that have been deleted.”

Clinton responded by claiming that he “paid nothing in federal taxes.”

The next topic was about race relations between police officers and the community.

The candidates focussed on a New York City law that was ruled un-Constitutional called “Stop-and-Frisk,” which allows police officers to stop random pedestrians on the street, and frisk them for hidden weapons and other illegal items or substances.

Clinton took an anti-stop-and-frisk stance, arguing that it infringed on the rights of citizens and was almost entirely racial profiling.

Trump argued that it was a valuable tool for law enforcement, claiming that it had brought down the murder rate in New York City from “2200 to 500.”

The final topic for the night was about ISIS, countries with nuclear capability and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

The candidates spent a significant amount of time arguing whether or not Trump had supported the invasion, with both Holt and Clinton claiming that he had.

Trump insisted that he had always been against the war, and told everyone to ask radio and television host Sean Hannity about their arguments about it, which Hannity confirmed in his post-debate interview with Trump.

Though the CNN/ORG poll showed that most viewers believed Clinton had won, some online readership polls showed otherwise.

A readership poll in Time Magazine after the debate showed 60 percent of 742,524 readers believed Trump had won, and a poll of 347,530 readers in CNBC had similar results with 59 percent of readers who believed Trump had won.

Trump felt he won the debate and in a post-debate comments said, “it went better than he ever thought.”

The debate Monday night was the first of three scheduled for the election season.

The next Presidential debate will be held on Sunday, Oct. 9, and will be moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz. Before that, though, there will be a debate between the Vice President hopefuls on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can be reached at or on Twitter @logloc19.