5 key moments from the first Trump vs Clinton clash

Nathanael Williams

Clinton wins debate according to polls as candidates play to their existing audiences

THE FIRST of the US presidential debates between US Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican choice Donald J Trump was held last night at the Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. 

Lester Holt, anchor of NBC broadcaster’s Nightly News, hosted what proved to be an encounter where the combatants played to their existing strengths and audiences.

CommonSpace breaks down the main points and themes from the debate for those who missed it.

Mexico, walls and immigration

Trump chose to go on the offensive, talking about the fundamental issue of jobs and lamented the loss of industrial employment for Americans.

He complained about the number of jobs that have moved to Mexico, also linking the unemployment with what he called the "huge scale of immigration."

Hillary Clinton who is thought to be vulnerable on the issue of trade and jobs, attacked Trump over his inheritance of $14m from his father, which allowed him to start his life as a wealthy entrepreneur.

Secret tax returns and hushed-up emails

Another area of contention was the fight over Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. All other nominees in American politics have released their tax returns over a 20 year period. 

Trump countered shining a light on Mrs Clinton's own issues with transparency and her refusal to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and 33,000 emails which embroiled her in scandal earlier this year.

Trump said: "I will release my tax returns – against my lawyer’s wishes – when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release."

The full debate can be watched below

 Nato, Daesh and national security

The contenders argued over the purpose and usefulness of NATO, with the republican nominee maintaining that the alliance had lost its "function and relevance." 

Trump also criticised the Iran deal which he has often said empowers the Iranian government, who are in his view still working towards obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Clinton came under attack for her roles as secretary of state when she advocated regime change in Libya. Her opponent also tried to tie her to the rise of Daesh (Islamic State) in Iraq.

The former secretary of state said: "We’re working with NATO, the longest military alliance in the history of the world, to really turn our attention to terrorism. 

"We’re working with our friends in the Middle East, many of which, as you know, are muslim majority nations. 

"Donald has consistently insulted muslims abroad, muslims at home, when we need to be cooperating with muslim nations and with the American Muslim community."

Racism and public order

On the question of how to heal racial divisions in America, Clinton emphasised tackling police shooting and reforming methods of policing across the country.

She also made a point of stating that a lot of work had to be done at all levels to addresses underlying prejudice, which can effect outcomes in law and order, employment and health.

Donald Trump's response was to point out that law and order was central unifying America and that the African American community had been "let down" by the Democratic Party.

Establishment vs Underdog

Clinton countered the narrative that she is "too elitist" by referring to her father whom she described as a "small business man who worked very hard."

She attacked Trump's tax plans and business practices as "dangerous for the middle class" of America and contrasted it with her record of service and tax proposals. 

She said: "Well I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that’s exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy."

Trump has consistently portrayed himself as an underdog and Clinton as an establishment figure.

Picture courtesy of Ingmar Zahoraky

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