US Presidential contenders, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton engaged in a spirited yet ferocious brawl on Monday night as they met on stage for the first time, in the first debate of the 2016 election.
While the Republican property developer described his rival as a “typical politician”, the Democratic former secretary of state portrayed her opponent as unprepared for the “awesome, immense responsibility” of the presidency.
During the highly anticipated debate that was watched by up to 100m American and often veered into sharply personal attacks, Clinton called Trump a racist and a sexist – to his face – as she castigated Mr Trump for not releasing his tax returns, which every presidential candidate has done since Richard Nixon.
“Maybe he does not want the American people to know that he has paid nothing in federal taxes,” Mrs Clinton said.
Her charges of racism stemmed from an age-old complaint that he had supported ‘birther’ conspiracies questioning Barack Obama’s U.S. birth and therefore his eligibility to be president.
Mr Trump in turn upbraided Mrs Clinton over her email scandal, saying he would release his taxes “as soon as she releases her 30,000 emails” that were deleted before the Federal Bureau of Investigation started probing her use of a private server.
‘He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it. But he persisted,’ Clinton continued.
She said Trump continued the lie because some of his supporters ‘either believed it or wanted to believe it.’
Clinton also reminded Trump of a federal racial discrimination lawsuit brought against his father’s real estate company in the 1970s.
‘He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior,’ Clinton declared.
Clinton’s slings on gender were almost as pointed, claiming Trump had once said ‘pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers.’
‘I never said that,’ Trump interrupted.
‘Who has said women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men,’ Clinton added.
‘I didn’t say that,’ he objected again.
‘And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest,’ Clinton lectured.
‘He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman Miss Piggy, then he called her Miss Housekeeping because she was a Latina.
‘Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado, and she has become a U.S. citizen and you can be she’s going to vote this November.’
‘Oh really?’ an indignant Trump asked, after demanding over and over to know where Clinton had heard the stories about the Venezuelan-born Machado, who won the Miss Universe title in 1996 when Trump owned the pageant.
Machado made the claims in an interview with ‘Inside Edition’ in May.
Trump blasted Clinton for using overheated rhetoric in campaign ads.
‘Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials,’ he complained, insisting that he wasn’t about to use a pointed insult he had brought to the debate.
‘You want to know the truth? I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it”,’ Trump claimed.
‘It’s inappropriate. It’s just not nice. … she’s spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. They’re untrue and they’re misrepresentations.’
‘It’s hundreds of millions of ads,’ Trump said, and the only gratifying thing is I saw the polls come in today, and with all of that money, over $200 million is spent, and I’m either winning or tied. And I’ve spent practically nothing.
Trump’s supporters erupted in applause.
Clinton had her own applause line, though, batting back Trump’s concerns about her stamina in the Oval Office.
‘As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina,’ she declared.
The 90-minute debate showcased the two candidates’ very different styles. Mr Trump started in a more restrained manner, suggesting that he planned to approach the debate in a less confrontational manner than he employed in the Republican primary debates. Later, however, he grew visibly irritated when Mrs Clinton launched pointed attacks, painting her rival as someone who “stiffed” small business people.
Source: Daily Mail, Financial Times