A recap of the first 2016 presidential debate
One of the most heated elections in recent American history
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This story was featured in the Fall 2016 news magazine
The first presidential debate in the general election of 2016 was a very important one. For many Americans, it was the first time they payed attention to the candidates running for president. A poll taken before the debates started illustrated that one in five Americans said that they could change their mind about which candidate to vote for based on debate night.
The first debate took place on September 26, 2016. Secretary Clinton was ready to take on her opponent. She has been in politics for over 30 years and, according to CNN, “has participated in more debates than any presidential candidate in recent history.” Due to her successful past, there were high expectations for her first debate against Trump.
When “Good Morning America” reported on this topic on the morning of the debate, they disclosed that Clinton’s “aides say they fear the bar is lower for Donald Trump,” implying that Trump only has to meet a very minimum requirement to impress his audience. Clinton has to work much harder in order to win over new supporters. This same statement was echoed the night of the debate by multiple reporters at the event.
Although Clinton was implicitly prepared for this debate, she and her board members prepared for the worst. On Tuesday, September 20, Trump tweeted, “Hillary Clinton is taking the day off again, she needs the rest. Sleep well Hillary – see you at the debate!” Trump has already called out Clinton in the news for her being ill, saying she “lacks the mental and physical stamina” to run the country effectively. At the debate, however, this wasn’t one of Trump’s main topics. However, he did repeat himself toward the end of the debate saying she “lacks stamina.”
The polls the day before and the day after the election have remained the same, Clinton at 45%, Trump at 42%, according to the “New York Times.” According to those reporting before the debate, Clinton’s main goal at the debate was to earn back the trust of the people who are still doubtful of her, Trump had this same goal. Both candidates have their own scandals that are concerning in the public eye.
This is why the public is currently having trouble trusting both Trump and Clinton. Trump, because he refuses to release his tax returns. Clinton, due to her previous email scandal. Clinton was the first to address Trump on his wrongdoing. “I have no reason to believe he will ever release his tax returns, because he’s hiding something,” said Clinton. Clinton made suggestions during the debate as to what Trump might be “hiding.” She suggests it’s most likely that Trump hasn’t paid any of his federal taxes in the past couple of years, or maybe his family does not actually donate to charity like they claim to do. She listed off multiple other reasons, and Trump denied all of them.
“I will release my tax returns when she releases her thirty-three thousand emails that she deleted,” Trump responded. With Trump bringing up Clinton’s previous email scandal, both candidates put dirty laundry on the table. Clinton responded to this remark by saying that she takes full responsibility for the damage done, and that it was a mistake that she had made. She continued on saying that she should have used two email servers instead of one. Clinton seemed to earn respect of the audience here, taking responsibility for her actions instead of denying them.
A review by reporters after the debate said that Clinton probably gained more of the voters who were previously on the fence, and that Trump probably didn’t lose supporters, but didn’t gain many either. According to the “New York Times” on October 7, 2016 Clinton had kept her lead at 45%, yet Trump had dropped to 41%. A significant amount of people still say they’re on the fence about which candidate for whom to vote. This debate was an important one for this election; a lot of first impressions are made. There are still many more debates to come between now and November, before the votes are cast.