NEW YORK (Daily Mail, UK) –Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton clashed in the first USpresidential debate at Hofstra University on New York state’s Long Island. It is the first of three planned presidential debates.
Clinton called Trump a racist and a sexist – to his face – in brutal exchanges during the presidential debate Monday night.
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.
And she leveled charge after charge at the Republican in an attempt to frame him as an unrepentant chauvinist, aided by a question from moderator Lester Holt about a one-time comment that Clinton lacked ‘the look’ to be president.
‘This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs,’ Clinton said – a similar challenge to one Trump faced more than a year ago from Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly at the first GOP primary debate.
Monday he answered it a second time with a jab at an old entertainment nemesis.
‘Somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell – I said very tough things to her,’ Trump protested, ‘and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her.’
Clinton’s extraordinary race attack, though, was the most stinging and bitter moment of a debate marked by angry shouting and cross-talk between the rival candidates.
In a furious exchange that began as a segment about racial healing in America, holt asked Trump about his role perpetrating the ‘false claim’ that Obama was born abroad – one he claimed to have settled in 2012 but which he kept publicly doubting until weeks ago.
Holt asked Trump what changed his mind, since the candidate came out and said this month that Obama was born in the U.S. after questioning his citizenship for five years.
Trump delivered one of his most disjointed answers of the night, as he tried to blame former 2008 Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, who told CNN recently that a Clinton state volunteer had forwarded a birther email but was fired for it.
Trump also referenced longtime Clinton friend and advisor Sidney Blumenthal, but failed to explain his claim that Clinton herself was somehow involved with starting the ‘birther’ rumor when she ran against Obama in the Democratic primary eight years ago.
Asked why he changed his mind, Trump responded, ‘Nobody was pressing it. Nobody was caring much about it. I figured you’d ask the question tonight of course.’
When he was done, Clinton pounced.
‘Just listen to what you heard,’ Clinton said.
‘He tried to put the whole racist birther lie to bed. But it can’t be dismissed that easily.’
‘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 first presidential debate had quickly devolved into a contentious slugfest when Trump repeatedly cut off Clinton and she accused her rival of saying ‘crazy things.’
‘I have the feeling that by the end of the evening I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened’ an exasperated Clinton interjected after getting repeatedly hit by Trump on taxes and trade.
‘Why not?’ shot back Trump in just one of his spontaneous quips.
Clinton then told her rival to ‘just join the debate by saying more crazy things.’
Trump also challenged Clinton’s claim that Russian state actors hacked into the Democratic National Committee, saying it could have been anyone.
Anyone including, he said, a morbidly obese loner.
‘Maybe it was. It could be Russia,’ Trump said of this summer’s embarrassing hack attack that exposed a Democratic Party plot to deliver the presidential nomination to Clinton.
‘It could also be China,’ he mused.
‘It could also be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.’
Clinton called Trump ‘praiseworthy’ in his comments about Russian president Vladimir Putin, suggesting that he had invited Moscow to hack Americans.
Trump did suggest this summer that if Russia had already hacked into Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state – 33,000 of which she later deleted – they should show them to the world.
Clinton said cyber warfare is ‘one of their preferred methods of trying to wreak havoc and collect information.’
‘We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not,’ Trump said of American cyber capabilities.
Clinton also blasted Trump’s ‘cavalier’ attitude to nuclear weapons.
‘His cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons is so deeply troubling,’ said Clinton, reaching for one of her lines.
‘A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have their finger anywhere near the nuclear codes,’ she said.
‘That one’s getting a little bit old,’ Trump grumbled.
‘It’s a good one,’ Clinton retorted.
Earlier, Clinton landed the first attacks of the night by going after ‘Trump up, trickle down’ economics, and mentioning the loan he got from his father.
Trump said Clinton was going to approve ‘one of the biggest tax increases in history.’
Trump slammed Clinton for backing a Pacific trade deal, which she once called the ‘gold standard’ but ultimately opposed.
‘Well, Donald I know you live in your own reality,’ Clinton shot back.
‘When it was negotiated, which I was not responsible for …’ said Clinton, discussing the deal backed by President Obama.
‘So is it President Obama’s fault?’ Trump asked.