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Clinton and Trump engaged in a vigorous back-and-forth on the debate stage at Hofstra University in New York as both candidates, neck-and-neck in the polls, battled to win over wavering voters. Here are some of the night’s major talking points:
Clinton savaged Trump with a lengthy explanation of why Trump will not release his tax returns, concluding he’s got something to hide. She said Trump may not be “as rich as he says he is” or “maybe he’s not as charitable” as he says he is. She noted that the few years of tax returns he had released showed that despite his wealth, he had paid no federal income tax. “That makes me smart,” Trump said.
Trump retorted that he would release his tax returns when Clinton releases what he called her “33,000 deleted” emails, in reference to Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. Clinton admitted she has “made a mistake”.
One of the most heated exchanges of the night was over race relations in the US. Clinton accused Trump of spreading a “racist lie” by his questioning of Barack Obama’s US citizenship, adding that Trump has “a long record of engaging in racist behaviour.” Trump responded by recalling the bitter debates between Clinton and Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, saying Clinton treated Obama then with “terrible disrespect”.
Trump attacked Clinton for her trade policies and said she would approve a controversial trade deal with Asian countries despite opposing it as a candidate. Clinton in turn attacked Trump’s plans to cut corporation tax, calling his policy “Trumped-up trickle-down economics”.
The candidates clashed on a number of issues relating to national security, from the role of NATO to the merits of the Iran nuclear deal. Trump also accused Clinton of giving away information to the enemy by revealing on her website how she planned to defeat the Islamic State group. Clinton said that unlike Trump, she at least had a plan for fighting Islamist militants.
Towards the end of the night, Trump questioned whether Clinton at the “stamina” to be president. “To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina,” Trump said.
Clinton fired right back: “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents… or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”