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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — In a combative opening debate, Hillary Clinton emphatically denounced Donald Trump Monday night for keeping his personal tax returns and business dealings secret from voters and peddling a “racist lie” about President Barack Obama. Businessman Trump repeatedly cast Clinton as a “typical politician” as he sought to capitalize on Americans’ frustration with Washington.

Locked in an exceedingly close White House race, the presidential rivals tangled for 90-minutes over their vastly different visions for the nation’s future. Clinton called for lowering taxes for the middle class, while Trump focused more on renegotiating trade deals that he said have caused companies to move jobs out of the U.S. The Republican backed the controversial “stop-and-frisk policing” tactic as a way to bring down crime, while the Democrat said the policy was unconstitutional and ineffective.

The debate was heated from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers. Clinton was more measured and restrained, but also needled the sometimes-thin-skinned Trump over his business record and wealth.

“There’s something he’s hiding,” she declared, scoffing at his repeated contention that he won’t release his tax returns because he is being audited.

Trump aggressively tried to turn the transparency questions around on Clinton, who has struggled to overcome voters’ concerns about her honestly and trustworthiness. He said he would release his tax information when she produces more than 30,000 emails that were deleted from the personal internet server she used as secretary of state.

Tax experts have said there is no reason the businessman cannot make his records public during an audit.

Clinton was contrite in addressing her controversial email use, saying simply that it was a “mistake”. She notably did not fall back on many of the excuses she has often used for failing to use a government email during her four years as secretary of state.

“If I had to do it over again, I would obviously do it differently,” she said.

The televised face-off was the most anticipated moment in an election campaign that has been both historic and unpredictable. Both sides expected a record-setting audience for the showdown at Hofstra University in suburban New York, reflecting the intense national interest in the race to become America’s 45th president.

The candidates sparred over trade, taxes and how to bring good-paying jobs back to the United States.

Clinton said her Republican rival was promoting a “Trumped-up” version of trickle-down economics — a philosophy focused on tax cuts for the wealthy. She called for increasing the federal minimum wage, spending more on infrastructure projects and guaranteeing equal pay for women.

Trump panned policies that he said have led to American jobs being moved overseas, in part because of international trade agreements that Clinton has supported. He pushed Clinton aggressively on her past support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact while she was serving in the Obama administration. She’s since said she opposes the sweeping deal in its final form.

“You called it the gold standard of trade deals,” Trump said. “If you did win, you would approve that.”

Disputing his version of events, Clinton said, “I know you live in your reality.”

Trump struggled to answer repeated questions about why he only recently acknowledged that Barack Obama was born in the United States. For years, Trump has been the chief promoter of questions falsely suggesting the president was born outside of America.

“He has really started his political activity on this racist lie,” Clinton charged.

Clinton aides spent the days leading up to the debate appealing for the media and voters to hold Trump to a higher standard than they believe he has faced for much of the campaign. Their concern was that if the sometimes-bombastic Trump managed to keep his cool onstage, he’d be rewarded — even if he failed to flesh out policy specifics or didn’t tell the truth about his record and past statements.

Trump’s campaign has said the Clinton camp’s concerns reflected worries about the her debating skills.

The centerpiece of Trump’s campaign has been a push for restrictive immigration measures, including a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and an early proposal to temporarily bar foreign Muslims from coming to the U.S. But he’s been less detailed about other ideas, including his plan for stamping out the Islamic State group in the Middle East.

Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, is banking on voters seeing her as a steady hand who can build on the record of President Obama, whose popularity is rising as he winds down his second term in office. She’s called for expanding Obama’s executive orders if Congress won’t pass legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and for broader gun control measures. Overseas, she’s called for a no-fly zone in Syria but has vowed to keep the military out of a large-scale ground war to defeat the Islamic State group.

For Clinton, victory in November largely hinges on rallying the same young and diverse coalition that elected Obama but has yet to fully embrace her.

Trump has tapped into deep anxieties among some Americans, particularly white, working-class voters who feel left behind in a changing economy and diversifying nation. While the real estate mogul lacks the experience Americans have traditionally sought in a commander in chief, he’s banking on frustration with career politicians and disdain for Clinton to push him over the top on Election Day.


Pace reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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11 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Battle Over Taxes, Race, Terror In First Debate

  1. How is Trump releasing his tax returns germane to the critical issues facing the country? Trump has clear plans to spur the economy and thus create jobs. Has your life improved over the last 8 years of Democratic policy? The Dems have successfully placed blinders on our people to get them to focus on the wrong things. Think for yourself. Please

  2. Rosco P Coaltrain on said:

    Am I the only person who heard him say? that “very recently I have a number of African American friends” I said to myself…..”Very Recently”…..WTH…..This man is trying to pull off the biggest Ponzy scheme he has ever tried….and then he did not deny or apologize for being racist, and not renting to blacks when the “Government” took him to court (How blatant is your discrimination for the Government to bring charges against you?) but then the fool said that he settled out of court WITHOUT an admission of GUILT……WTH again…Are we listening to this man?…….Well I have to tell you that those two comments alone lets me know exactly where he stands when it comes to black people. If black people vote for this Republi-KLAN and he becomes the Government, do you think he will charge himself with discrimination or even settle out of court with no admission of guilt again? No I think NOT

  3. well said, this sums it up. However, I’m still trying to figure out the people that are still following him, what does he put in that Kool-Aid????

    • Zpeach
      I’m not quite sure why any black or brown person would continue to follow him. When ask, seems the typical response is, he’s going to change things, it won’t be the same ole status quo. And I’m all for change just not this kind, his entire attitude focuses on what’s best for him and the top 2% of the earners in this country. He couldn’t care any less about what happens to the poor or middle-class in America, he’s never been there. He’s out for himself and it’s too bad some are still drinking the Kool-Aid, God help their souls and if by some crazy fluke the orange hitler wins…well God help all our souls.

      • Who is donating to the Clinton campaign? BLM, struggling immigrants? Nope, the top 2%, and that is exactly who she is looking out for. Has you life improved over the last 8 years? Clinton’s economic plan can best be described as Trickle Up Poverty. Don’t let people force you into thinking what they want. Think for yourself.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    I think this is the only the 2nd time I’ve ever watched a debate from beginning to end, although I blinked a little during Donald’s constant rhetoric pertaining to his “truths” but real lies JUST PICK ONE any one, tax returns, birther movement, to him not denying or apologizing for being racist and not renting to blacks but making a point to say he settled WITHOUT an admission of GUILT, paying no taxes is smart business, and on and on and on.
    Again if you watched this debate and you still feel the orange Hitler is fit to be the president of your country and rule over the land you call home, I feel real pity for you. “None so blind who will not see”, you need to stop looking at the trees but instead see the forest. See the O.H. for who he is…a shifty and shyster character and business man who filed bankruptcy a number of times (oh my bad “used the laws of the land) to swindle people for goods and service he so greatly enjoys to this day.
    It’s worth mentioning again he PAYS NO TAXES while you and I on the other hand pay more than our share. That means for the slow, he doesn’t contribute to the expense of running our country, which includes the military, government programs, the road ways or infrastructures, schools, the list goes on and on. Wake up and get off that train.

  5. ResponsibilityInControl on said:

    He never answered a question he diverted every time. And legal experts and the IRS have stated that there no issues with him releasing his tax returns as it will not affect the audit. There are tax loopholes he is taking advantage of and I do not believe he is as charitable as he says he is. He diverted that question to emails. He will only make his rich friends richer and control the wealth.

  6. Debates always show the “REAL” candidate.

    Last night showed HRC to be ready to place her hand on that Bible in January and swear to defend and protect this country.

    Whereas-CHUMP showed once again that he is CLUELESS and needs to see the Wizard for a brain.

    If his dumb ass really has a plan-only he knows what the hell it is. All he did was act like a buffoon by his constant badgering of Hillary-while skirting and dancing around the “ISSUES.”

    Being gruff and uncouth may go along way in the business world-however, one must have poise/tact/diplomacy and above all else KOOL when it comes to holding the highest office
    in this country as well as dealing with foreign countries and their dignitaries.

    Take a page from our President-he has been the essence of Kool throughout these seven &1/2 yrs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • redbone1954 on said:

      You took the words right out of my mouth. What a clown what a horrible performace by this ignorant man. He acted like a wounded child making faces perching his thin fish lips at everything that Hillary said NEVER NEVER answered a question and never discussed a plan for anything. He opened every sentece with I own property there or he tried to do some name dropping about who he knows. And then on stage screaming for someone to call Sean Hannity on Fox!!! who want to talk to him? he givesss a new meaning to the word ignorant

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