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WATCH: Full Clinton-Trump Debate & Democracy Now! Roundtable

Special BroadcastSeptember 26, 2016
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Click here to watch the vice presidential debate.

Democracy Now! hosted special live coverage tonight of the first U.S. presidential debate. We aired the full debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and hosted pre- and post-debate discussions. Guests included Princeton professor Eddie Glaude, author of “Democracy in Black”; Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant; sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right”; immigrant rights attorney Isabel Garcia; investigative journalist Allan Nairn; and Ramzi Kassem, professor of law at City University of New York School of Law and attorney for many prisoners at Guantanamo.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: From New York, this is Democracy Now!

HILLARY CLINTON: Donald Trump’s bigotry, his bullying, his bluster are not going to wear well on the American people.

DONALD TRUMP: I’m the first one that said build a wall, but I mean a real wall, not a toy wall like they have right now, a real wall, and, you know, solve lots of problems. But we will galvanize the people of this country, and we will beat Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON: Here’s the sad truth: There is no other Donald Trump. This is it.

DONALD TRUMP: I’m the only one that beats Hillary Clinton. I beat—and I haven’t—I have not started on Hillary yet.

AMY GOODMAN: Tonight, a three-hour Democracy Now! special. We’re just 30 minutes away from one of the most anticipated presidential debates in recent U.S. history: Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, round one. We’ll air the full debate from Hofstra University in Long Island, plus host a pre- and post-debate roundtable. We’ll speak with Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University; Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, she’s in Seattle; sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right; immigrant rights attorney Isabel Garcia, she’s on the border in Tucson, Arizona; and prize-winning investigative journalist Allan Nairn; as well as Guantánamo attorney Ramzi Kassem, who’s a professor of law at City University of New York School of Law.

All that and more, coming up.

Welcome to Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

In less than 30 minutes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will square off in what’s expected to be the most watched presidential debate in U.S. history. Some TV network executives predict as many as 100 million people will tune in. Tonight’s 90-minute debate is being held at Hofstra University on Long Island here in New York. On Democracy Now!, we’ll be airing the entire debate uninterrupted starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern [Daylight] Time.

Third-party candidates, including Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, will be excluded under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. Just before we went on air, police arrested a number of activists at Hofstra who were protesting the exclusion of of third-party candidates from the debate. Earlier in the day, Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein was stopped by Hofstra security and Nassau County police, then escorted off the campus. Stein was on her way to do an interview with MSNBC at Hofstra.

Jill Stein will join us Tuesday—that’s tomorrow—here in our studio in a two-hour “Expanding the Debate” special. We’ll re-air tonight’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and give Stein a chance to respond to the same questions at her own podium. We’ve also invited Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, but he says he can’t make it.

As we count down the minutes to the Trump-Clinton showdown, we’re joined now by four guests: Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University; Allan Nairn, longtime investigative journalist and activist; Ramzi Kassem, a professor of law at City University of New York School of Law and attorney for many men held at Guantánamo. They’re all joining me here in New York, our guests. And in Tucson, Arizona, immigrant rights attorney Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Coalition for Human Rights.

We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Professor Eddie Glaude, what do you want to hear tonight?

EDDIE GLAUDE: Well, I would love to hear Secretary Clinton lay out a progressive agenda to actually try to speak to millennial voters, to actually address the circumstances that we see in Charlotte, to actually not bank right but to bank left. That’s what I would like to see. I don’t expect to see that. I think I expect to see Donald Trump to reveal, once again, who he is. So, I think we’re going to see, in some ways, the kind of vacuousness of his platform and of his positions. So, in some ways, I expect us to actually see what we’ve been seeing all election cycle: I don’t expect anything.

AMY GOODMAN: Ramzi Kassem, you have been to Guantánamo like 50 times. You’re a professor of law. You deal with everything from men imprisoned at Guantánamo to immigrants who are being deported from this country. What do you want addressed?

RAMZI KASSEM: You know, I would have—I would have liked to see a more progressive platform on security and foreign policy issues from candidate Clinton, but unfortunately my expectation, based on her record in President Obama’s Cabinet, is that she will veer more to the hawkish side. There will be important differences between her positions on some of these issues and Donald Trump’s, to be sure, but, unfortunately, we are still way to the right of what we would have hoped in terms of President Obama and now a potential President Clinton rolling back some of the excesses of the Bush era in terms of foreign policy, in terms of national security.

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, you just did a piece for your News and Comment blog, “Debate Night 1, 2016. Notes on Trump and Clinton: Restraint.” What do you mean?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, the U.S. policy is to run the world, and Trump has said he’s against that, so some people think he will be less lethal abroad than Clinton. But what Trump’s saying is exactly what George W. Bush said. He ran to the left of Gore on intervention. He said he was against nation building. And then, after the 9/11 attack, he invaded two countries. He caused the death of more than a million people. He sent U.S. troops into sustained combat.

Now, does anybody think that once Trump takes office, attacks on U.S. targets will cease? And does anybody think Trump will be more restrained in response than Bush? For that matter, does anyone think Trump will want to be known as having a lower death toll from drone strikes than Obama? Trump has already talked about nuclear weapons for Saudi Arabia. He backs the mass-murdering el-Sisi of Egypt even more enthusiastically than Clinton does. He wants to give Israel more arms than even Obama or Clinton do. He said that he will stand by ISIS if they go after Assad in Syria. Whoever wins this, if either Bush or Clinton—if either Trump or Clinton win this election, mass murder will win.

AMY GOODMAN: You mean Trump or Clinton.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, if either Trump or Clinton win the election, mass murder will win. If you look at who’s supporting them, the national security bureaucrats, those of the killing bureaucracy, tend to support Clinton. But Cheney and Rumsfeld, the two leading murder adventurers, they’re backing Trump.

Under Trump, he’ll sustain the killing bureaucracy. He’s already said he wants huge boosts in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, also the CIA. Congress wouldn’t allow cuts in that. But he adds the extra element of animal spirits, in the tradition of someone like Cheney or General Curtis LeMay. He’s called on China to disappear Kim Jong-un of North Korea. If people think that Trump will be less lethal and dangerous abroad, they haven’t looked at his proposals, and they haven’t looked at his—they haven’t looked at history.

And I think they should both be asked: As president, will you be accountable? If your forces murder civilians, are you ready to be put on trial for that? And, within the U.S., when police kill civilians, should they all be put on trial?

AMY GOODMAN: So, you are—sound equally critical of both of them. Who do you plan to vote for?

ALLAN NAIRN: I vote in New York, so I’ll vote for Stein of the Green Party. But if I were in Ohio, I would vote for Clinton, because Trump had to be—has to be stopped. Trump is a white supremacist. He’s a proto-fascist. If you get Trump, you not only get him as an individual in the White House, you also get a clear path for the Paul Ryan-Koch brothers agenda coming out of Congress. You get a series of new Scalias constituting a majority on the Supreme Court, who will then have the policy to set that—have the power to set that agenda in stone.

And apart from government, Trump is unleashing the beast in white America. It’s already happening. He’s appealing to the worst instincts regarding race among the white population. Now, white people have to decide: Do they want to try to diminish racism or not? Trump is pulling in the wrong direction. And he’s suggesting that it’s fun, it’s cool. You’re violating political correctness when you indulge in more racism. So not only would it mean a radical shift to the right in American politics, the opening for a kind of fascism similar to the kind that you see in the Philippines with someone like Duterte, in Egypt with his someone like his buddy el-Sisi, but it’s also unleashing forces in American society.

Imagine what it will do to the rate of police shootings of black civilians. Imagine what Giuliani and Christie, in a Trump Justice Department, will do to Black Lives Matter movement, will do to other activists. This is a very serious choice. The rich win no matter if it’s Clinton or Trump, but with Trump you also get the constituency of the white supremacists. With Clinton, at least you get a constituency of justice movements that have a foothold in the party and will be able to fight both from inside and the outside. With Trump, they’ll be fighting for their lives.

AMY GOODMAN: Isabel Garcia, you’re on the border. You’re in Tucson. You’re a longtime immigrants’ rights advocate, attorney. Can you talk about what your concerns are, not just what you want to hear the candidates say, but also what the candidates have said? You know, they’re not just laying out their positions for the first time tonight. We have a very good idea. Both of them have been engaged in many debates, have traveled the country, given hundreds of speeches, and Hillary Clinton has governed, herself. What are your thoughts tonight?

ISABEL GARCIA: Well, this evening, I’m hoping that the American public can see very clearly who Trump is attempting to garner favor with. There was a lot of code language, and then, when it comes to Mexicans and immigrants, there’s no code necessary. He has openly made Mexico and the wall his number one issue.

And so, I expect the Democrats to fight back. It’s very dangerous what we’re engaging in. We live in a militarized border. We, too, are very realistic that in fact it was a Clinton administration and everybody else who has militarized this border. Both parties share the blame in refusing to acknowledge to the American public that we, the United States, particularly those economic interests, have created this immigration situation. We have invited Mexican immigrants to come since the early 1900s, and then we’ve engaged in foreign policies and wars, in particular to the South and Latin America, where we see devastation in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, countries that are under U.S. interest, with people fleeing here. And until both parties begin to tell the American public the truth about what—why immigrants are here, we’re going to have the problem. We, in this country, not only lack the knowledge of how this country was founded on the genocide of indigenous and the land grabs, we really have not taught any of the history of labor, of slavery, post-slavery, and we have not taught the history of immigration. And so, if we’re ever to move forward, we have to do it now, because otherwise the forces under Trump will destroy us.

I want Clinton to address us very clearly, to acknowledge very clearly that immigrants are a very important part, and always have been, in our country, and that we must demilitarize not only our police agencies but the largest police agency we have of all—the U.S. Border Patrol, still a civil enforcement agency, thank goodness, but more and more we are violating Posse Comitatus Acts, really. We are more and more engaging the Department of Defense in regard to the governance of our borders. And so, we do have a crisis. We have a crisis of death and disappearance at this border. We have a crisis of brutality. Forty-six men have been shot and killed by the Border Patrol.

We have very common issues across this country with the brutality against black and brown people, against Muslim people, and so we must come together very clearly. As the journalist before me said, very sobering that we must assess what is our reality. Trump and the Republicans will kick us down decades, while we can continue to battle the Democratic Party for what is right for working people in this country and across the world.

AMY GOODMAN: And it was President Obama who was dubbed “deporter-in-chief” by his close associates. You know, the establishment immigrants’ rights community, many nonprofits working outside and inside the White House, it was they, I think, when he hit something like 2 million deportations, that said this.


AMY GOODMAN: So, how do you respond when you say, at least the Democrats, they—it’s not a wall, it’s a door, perhaps open a crack, and activists have a foothold, as Allan was just saying, and you can kick it open. But you just saw, for example, President Obama preside over a refugee summit at the United Nations.

ISABEL GARCIA: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: And at this summit, there was this nonbinding resolution that said no children should be detained. It was the U.S. that changed that language to say that should, what, rarely be detained.

ISABEL GARCIA: Rarely. Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: And that wasn’t only for the U.S., but that keeps kids in jails, from Pennsylvania in Berks to other places. That sets the standard for countries all over the world.

ISABEL GARCIA: Absolutely. The Democrats have been as responsible as the Republicans. We called Obama deporter-in-chief because, in fact, he was the latest recipient of this largesse that we’ve allowed the Department of Homeland Security. He has allowed it to grow in unprecedented fashion to basically kill and disappear people along the border and to criminalize them. Fifty—almost 50 percent of all the federal criminal prosecutions across this country are for illegal entry and re-entry. So, the Democrats, under prior President Clinton—you know, he militarized this border. He pushed NAFTA, that caused millions to come across here, and then he imposed laws internally that were very limiting for immigrants. So we’re under no illusions.

But it is clear that President Obama had to listen to the grassroots, and he began to act with executive orders. And we must push that door open. I’ll tell you, the Republicans push us down further in other areas, in the environment and everywhere, but, I’ll tell you, both Democrats and Republicans, at that level, essentially, hire the same military and the same economic people. And so we are working within that limitation.

AMY GOODMAN: Ramzi Kassem, you work on immigration rights, as well, here in New York. Your thoughts on this?

RAMZI KASSEM: Yeah, I mean, it’s a sad reality that the Obama administration has shattered records every single year, in both terms where President Obama has been in office, in terms of deportations. He has surpassed the Bush administration’s eight years. And that’s just one of the unsavory distinctions that this administration carries.

And Hillary Clinton is a part of this administration. She was a Cabinet member. She—and there have been interesting accounts of late that revealed that on many foreign policy decisions, she has tended to be far more hawkish than President Obama even. Now, keep in mind, when you look at just one aspect of the way in which the U.S. has participated in the world under President Obama—namely, drone strikes—President Obama had—in his first year in office, he surpassed President Bush’s entire eight-year term in the use of drones to execute individuals without trial or a fair process. Now, we can expect that to hold under a President Clinton, or maybe even get worse.

So, it is sad that these are the choices that we have in this country. I mean, in the end, I wil say that if you live in a swing state and if you care about certain issues like justice and human rights, then, unfortunately, you are in an election where there’s really one candidate that you can vote for, and that’s Hillary Clinton. But if, like me, you live in New York City, then you might be able to vote your conscience. But that is still a sad state of affairs, where the candidate of the left, of the supposed American left, is extremely hawkish and demonstrably so.

AMY GOODMAN: Eddie Glaude?

EDDIE GLAUDE: This is—this is the confusion that’s been at the heart of the Clinton campaign. On the one hand, they want to activate what is known as the Obama coalition—right?—which has everything to do with progressive whites, has everything to do with voters of color and the like, and young voters, right? And then, on the other hand, they seem to be doing exactly what the DLC, the Democratic Leadership Council, and others unleashed during the Clinton years, right? That is, they want to triangulate and appeal to the median white voter in western Pennsylvania, the suburbs of Philadelphia, in Ohio and the like—white working-class, high school-educated folks. And what you see is this assumption that fear of Trump is sufficient to motivate the base.

But people still remember, when the kids were trying to cross the border from Honduras and other places, that Hillary Clinton said, “Send them back home.” Folks still know that—I mean, we’ve been talking about the president being the deportation president, and folks aren’t talking about that Florida has been seeing in-migration of Puerto Ricans—right?—that are impacting the demographics of that community, of that state. And Obama threw Puerto Rico under the bus, has thrown Puerto Rico under the bus. And at the same time that this is happening, African Americans are being shot down in epidemic—at least it feels like an epidemic of murder in our communities. And suddenly, because of the fear of Trump, we’re supposed to be excited to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton, when we actually believe that she’s the poster child for business as usual. Trump isn’t the poster child for business as usual. That’s neofascism. But business as usual is Hillary Clinton.

So, what we’re going to see tonight, I think—right?—is the kind of the sorry state, the sad state of American politics. And I think what we’ve been talking about—and I just wrote a piece in Time magazine about this—that we have to engage in strategic voting. And it’s the long-standing approach, the critical approach, of the left to bring pressure to bear on the candidate and try to open up space for us to do some work. But one thing we can’t do is let Hillary Clinton believe she has the mandate. And I think this is what we will see coming out of this debate—I mean, I think, a harder and more direct critique of Hillary Clinton, unless she banks left as opposed to right.

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn?

ALLAN NAIRN: Professor Glaude just mentioned Puerto Rico. That’s a good example of the situation. As everybody just said, the Democrats and the Republicans created the crisis jointly, the destruction of the American middle class and working class, the massive destruction of working people overseas by supporting repression in places like Latin America, mainly for the benefit of American business, American business people like Trump, who do their production overseas. That business aspect largely accounts for the migration coming up from Mexico and Central America. Then you have the Bush invasions that shattered the Middle East, that are creating the migrants fleeing from there, mainly into Europe. But the specter of them coming to the U.S. has been one of Trump’s main rallying cries. Now, with Puerto Rico, the crisis in Puerto Rico, where public services have been completely gutted, the government is on the verge of collapse. This is happening because of massive debt, incurred mainly to U.S. vulture hedge funds. And the leader of that vulture hedge fund force that has been looting and burning Puerto Rico is a guy named Paulson, who is now one of the key Wall Street advisers for Trump.

So the Democrats and the Republicans have jointly created this situation, but the situation has—well, it produced two figures. First, it produced Sanders, who stood as a real alternative for actual progress, for constructively dealing with the collapse of the working and middle class, by redistributing wealth, by restoring some rule of law to the functioning of American business. But Sanders lost. So when Sanders lost, the possibility for progress by electoral means at this moment disappeared. Now there will definitely be a regression, because Clinton is even worse than Obama, as bad as Obama was.

But we have to recognize that Trump is in another category altogether. What Trump represents is, on the one hand, within government, a systematic road to dismantling all the progressive achievements of the last 50 years—on civil rights, on voting enfranchisement, on environment, on labor, on women’s rights, on anything you can think of. That’s within government, a systematic dismantling through the radical-right Congress and the new radical-right Supreme Court, but then, even more ominously, within society, unleashing the beast, mob attacks on Muslims, on Mexican Americans, on African Americans. Does—think about it. Does—what do you think will happen, the day after Trump is election—is elected, to the rate of police shootings of black civilians? Is it going to go up, or is it going to go down? If Trump is elected, white racists will take that as a vindication. And those white racists who happen to be cops will take it as a mandate. A Trump Justice Department isn’t going to prosecute them. A Trump Justice Department is going to go after the voting rolls. They’re going to try to exclude even more African Americans, even more Latinos, even more of any group that might conceivably vote against Republicans in the future. I mean, this is a fundamental choice for Americans now. Trump is a—is a massive danger. The chance for progress passed with Sanders. Now it’s a matter of damage control, and Trump must be stopped.

AMY GOODMAN: Right now, we are looking at what’s happening at Hofstra. The debate is about to begin, but I want to just share a comment of George Farah, the founder and executive director of Open Debates, who spoke on Democracy Now! four years ago in the last election, but it holds true today, how the Democrats and Republicans took control of the debate process.

GEORGE FARAH: The League of Women Voters ran the presidential debate process from 1976 until 1984, and they were a very courageous and genuinely independent, nonpartisan sponsor. And whenever the candidates attempted to manipulate the presidential debates behind closed doors, either to exclude a viable independent candidate or to sanitize the formats, the league had the courage to challenge the Republican and Democratic nominees and, if necessary, go public.

In 1980, independent candidate John B. Anderson was polling about 12 percent in the polls. The league insisted that Anderson be allowed to participate, because the vast majority of the American people wanted to see him, but Jimmy Carter, President Jimmy Carter, refused to debate him. The League went forward anyway and held a presidential debate with an empty chair, showing that Jimmy Carter wasn’t going to show up.

Four years later, when the Republican and Democratic nominees tried to get rid of difficult questions by vetoing 80 of the moderators that they had proposed to host the debates, the league said, “This is unacceptable.” They held a press conference and attacked the campaigns for trying to get rid of difficult questions.

And lastly, in 1988, was the first attempt by the Republican and Democratic campaigns to negotiate a detailed contract. It was tame by comparison, a mere 12 pages. It talked about who could be in the audience and how the format would be structured, but the league found that kind of lack of transparency and that kind of candidate control to be fundamentally outrageous and antithetical to our democratic process. They released the contract and stated they refuse to be an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American people and refuse to implement it.

And today, what do we have? We have a private corporation that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties called the Commission on Presidential Debates. It seized control of the presidential debates precisely because the league was independent, precisely because this women’s organization had the guts to stand up to the candidates that the major-party candidates had nominated.

AMY GOODMAN: That was George Farah talking about the Commission on Presidential Debates, which wrested control of the debates from the League of Women Voters. The debate will begin in exactly five minutes and 30 seconds. Lester Holt has already gone to the stage, the NBC News anchor, making small talk now. The families of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have entered the hall. If you had a question that you wanted to see answered tonight, Allan, what would that question be, Allan Nairn?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, one, as I mentioned before, is: Should presidents and cops be prosecuted for murder? Another is: Should people who inherit a billion dollars or more have to pay a 90 percent tax to the government? And if they’re not willing to buy that, what if those funds from the inheriting billionaires were earmarked to go to the 42 million people living in U.S. households that are facing hunger, according to the Department of Agriculture, or to the nearly 800 million people worldwide who are malnourished? That would be an interesting question for both of them.

AMY GOODMAN: Isabel Garcia, is there a question you’d like to see asked tonight? And, of course, on the other side of this debate, we’ll have an extended discussion about what was asked, what was revealed, and we’ll play some clips of that debate for everyone to respond to and talk to. And I want to say to our audience who’s watching this globally, you can share your thoughts. You can tweet at us. You can go to our Facebook page. You can let us know what you think, and we’ll bring that into the discussion in the last hour. The debate will be from 9:03 Eastern time to 10:30. It’ll be uninterrupted. And then we’ll have an hour afterwards to have an extended discussion. We will also be joined by Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist, writer, who has—a professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, just wrote the book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. We will also be joined by Kshama Sawant, the Socialist city councilmember from Seattle who helped with the $15-an-hour minimum wage for all workers in Seattle. She’s part of the Socialist Alternative. Professor Eddie Glaude, some questions you’d like to hear tonight?

EDDIE GLAUDE: Well, you know, the fundamental question for me is: What will you substantively do to address America’s original sin? And that is, not only to be—not only that we’re a settler colonial state, but to address fundamentally the question of race in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Isabel Garcia in Tucson?

ISABEL GARCIA: Yes, I’d like to know what their positions on how we’re going to view our Latin American countries, our partners here, both militarily and economically, what their plans are with these devastating free trade agreements, and particularly their continued support of the School of the Americas and all of the military’s expenditure down in Latin America. I want to know what their position will be on this.

AMY GOODMAN: Ramzi Kassem, if you were Lester Holt up there on the stage at Hofstra?

RAMZI KASSEM: If I could put a question only to Hillary Clinton, in the interest of avoiding giving Donald Trump more air time than he already gets, I would ask her what she intends to do to win over those Bernie Sanders voters.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think she should do?

RAMZI KASSEM: I think there’s a whole range of issues that those voters care about, where she’s either been silent or her positions have been less than satisfying. And I would expect her to move in that direction, because right now the race is frighteningly close. And I think those voters should not be taken for granted.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Allan Nairn, on that issue of appealing to Bernie Sanders voters?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, will—ask Clinton if she will completely repudiate what her husband did on NAFTA, and ask if she will now publicly call on Obama to not bring TPP up in the lame-duck session, because Obama is ready to make a full-on push for TPP, and he may have a chance, because he’ll have Republican backing. But if Clinton tonight takes a very strong stance against it and says to Obama, “Absolutely not,” that would kill it. That would kill TPP once and for all. Clinton says she wants that, make her do it.

AMY GOODMAN: Eddie Glaude?

EDDIE GLAUDE: I mean, it just seems to me that, you know, one of the things that really excited the Bernie coalition is his insistence that the economy was rigged, that this move to financialization had simply decimated workers, and that Hillary Clinton would have to do a fundamental about-face—right?—in order to do the work that I think actually needs to be done in order to excite the Sanders coalition. And that involves fundamentally—right?—a substantive and serious critique of financialization.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we are moving on right now to the debate at Hofstra University. It’s the first presidential debate of the general election, the first time a woman will be participating in a general election debate in the United States, in a U.S. presidential election. You can post your questions for our guests on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, using the hashtag #ExpandingTheDebate, all one word. Take part in the discussion. Join us online. Allan Nairn, Ramzi Kassem, Eddie Glaude, Isabel Garcia, and, again, we’ll be joined, as well, by Arlie Hochschild, as well as Kshama Sawant, as we go right now to Hofstra University on Long Island.

LESTER HOLT: This debate is sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. The commission drafted tonight’s format, and the rules have been agreed to by the campaigns.

The 90-minute debate is divided into six segments, each 15 minutes long. We’ll explore three topic areas tonight: Achieving Prosperity, America’s Direction and Securing America. At the start of each segment, I will ask the same lead-off question to both candidates, and they will each have up to two minutes to respond. From that point until the end of the segment, we’ll have an open discussion. The questions are mine, and they’ve not been shared with the commission or the campaigns.

The audience here in the room has agreed to remain silent, so that we can focus on what the candidates are saying. I will invite you to applaud, however, at this moment, as we welcome the candidates: Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, and Republican nominee for president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON: Hey, how are you, Donald?

DONALD TRUMP: I’m good, Hillary.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary, good luck to you.


LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, good luck to you.

Well, I don’t expect us to cover all the issues of this campaign tonight, but I remind everyone there are two more presidential debates scheduled. We are going to focus on many of the issues that voters tell us are most important, and we’re going to press for specifics. I am honored to have this role, but this evening belongs to the candidates and, just as important, to the American people. Candidates, we look forward to hearing you articulate your policies and your positions, as well as your visions and your values. So, let’s begin.

We’re calling this opening segment “Achieving Prosperity.” And central to that is jobs. There are two economic realities in America today. There’s been a record six straight years of job growth, and new census numbers show incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation. However, income inequality remains significant, and nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Beginning with you, Secretary Clinton, why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, Lester, and thanks to Hofstra for hosting us.

The central question in this election is really what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we’ll build together. Today is my granddaughter’s second birthday, so I think about this a lot.

First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs, with rising incomes. I want us to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business.

We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guarantee, finally, equal pay for women’s work. I also want to see more companies do profit sharing. If you help create the profits, you should be able to share in them, not just the executives at the top.

And I want us to do more to support people who are struggling to balance family and work. I’ve heard from so many of you about the difficult choices you face and the stresses that you’re under. So let’s have paid family leave, earned sick days. Let’s be sure we have affordable child care and debt-free college.

How are we going to do it? We’re going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes.

Finally, we, tonight, are on the stage together, Donald Trump and I. Donald, it’s good to be with you. We’re going to have a debate where we are talking about the important issues facing our country. You have to judge us: Who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency? Who can put into action the plans that will make your life better? I hope that I will be able to earn your vote on November 8th.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton, thank you. Mr. Trump, the same question to you. It’s about putting money—more money into the pockets of American workers. You have up to two minutes.

DONALD TRUMP: Thank you, Lester.

Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product: They’re devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight, and we have a winning fight, because they’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing. So we’re losing our good jobs, so many of them.

When you look at what’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much. So, Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving, thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving. And we can’t allow it to happen anymore.

As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we’re going to do, but perhaps we’ll be talking about that later.

But we have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States and, with it, firing all of their people. All you have to do is take a look at Carrier air conditioning in Indianapolis. They left, fired 1,400 people. They’re going to Mexico. So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this. We cannot let it happen.

Under my plan, I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch. Companies will come. They will build. They will expand. New companies will start. And I look very, very much forward to doing it. We have to renegotiate our trade deals, and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton, would you like to respond?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think that trade is an important issue. Of course, we are 5 percent of the world’s population; we have to trade with the other 95 percent. And we need to have smart, fair trade deals.

We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again. In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percent of the people in this country than we’ve ever had. I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that’s exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy.

We just have a different view about what’s best for growing the economy, how we make investments that will actually produce jobs and rising incomes. I think we come at it from somewhat different perspectives. I understand that. You know, Donald was very fortunate in his life, and that’s all to his benefit. He started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father, and he really believes that the more you help wealthy people, the better off we’ll be and that everything will work out from there.

I don’t buy that. I have a different experience. My father was a small-businessman. He worked really hard. He printed drapery fabrics on long tables, where he pulled out those fabrics and he went down with a silkscreen and dumped the paint in and took the squeegee and kept going.

And so what I believe is the more we can do for the middle class, the more we can invest in you, your education, your skills, your future, the better we will be off and the better we’ll grow. That’s the kind of economy I want us to see again.

LESTER HOLT: Let me follow up with Mr. Trump, if you can. You’ve talked about creating 25 million jobs, and you’ve promised to bring back millions of jobs for Americans. How are you going to bring back the industries that have left this country for cheaper labor overseas? How, specifically, are you going to tell American manufacturers that you have to come back?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, for one thing, and before we start on that, my father gave me a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars, with some of the greatest assets in the world. And I say that only because that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs.

Our country’s in deep trouble. We don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to devaluations and all of these countries all over the world, especially China. They’re the best, the best ever, at it. What they’re doing to us is a very, very sad thing. So, we have to do that. We have to renegotiate our trade deals. And, Lester, they’re taking our jobs, they’re giving incentives, they’re doing things that, frankly, we don’t do.

Let me give you the example of Mexico. They have a VAT tax. We’re on a different system. When we sell into Mexico, there’s a tax. When they sell in—automatic, 16 percent, approximately. When they sell into us, there’s no tax. It’s a defective agreement. It’s been defective for a long time, many years, but the politicians haven’t done anything about it.

Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton—yes, is that OK? Good. I want you to be very happy. It’s very important to me. But in all fairness to Secretary Clinton, when she started talking about this, it was really very recently. She’s been doing this for 30 years. And why hasn’t she made the agreements better? The NAFTA agreement is defective, just because of the tax and many other reasons, but just because of the fact—

LESTER HOLT: Let me interrupt just a moment, but—

DONALD TRUMP: Secretary Clinton and others, politicians, should have been doing this for years, not right now because of the fact that we’ve created a movement. They should have been doing this for years. What’s happened to our jobs and our country and our economy generally is—look, we owe $20 trillion. We cannot do it any longer, Lester.

LESTER HOLT: Back to the question, though. How do you bring back—specifically bring back jobs? American manufacturers, how do you make them bring the jobs back?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, the first thing you do is don’t let the jobs leave. The companies are leaving. I could name—I mean, there are thousands of them. They’re leaving, and they’re leaving in bigger numbers than ever. And what you do is you say, “Fine, you want to go to Mexico or some other country, good luck. We wish you a lot of luck. But if you think you’re going to make your air conditioners or your cars or your cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you’re wrong.” And once you say you’re going to have to tax them coming in—and our politicians never do this, because they have special interests, and the special interests want those companies to leave, because in many cases they own the companies. So, what I’m saying is, we can stop them from leaving. We have to stop them from leaving. And that’s a big, big factor.

LESTER HOLT: Let me let Secretary Clinton get in here.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street and created a perfect storm.

In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.

DONALD TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.

HILLARY CLINTON: Nine million people—9 million people lost their jobs, 5 million people lost their homes, and $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. Now, we have come back from that abyss. And it has not been easy. So we’re now on the precipice of having a potentially much better economy, but the last thing we need to do is to go back to the policies that failed us in the first place.

Independent experts have looked at what I’ve proposed and looked at what Donald’s proposed, and basically they’ve said this, that if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion and would, in some instances, disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go into effect, we would lose three-and-a-half million jobs and maybe have another recession.

They’ve looked at my plans, and they’ve said, OK, if we can do this—and I intend to get it done—we will have 10 million more new jobs, because we will be making investments where we can grow the economy. Take clean energy. Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.

DONALD TRUMP: I did not. I did not.

HILLARY CLINTON: I think the science is real.

DONALD TRUMP: I do not say that.

HILLARY CLINTON: And I think it’s important—

DONALD TRUMP: I do not say that.

HILLARY CLINTON: —that we grip this and deal with it, both at home and abroad. And here’s what we can do. We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs; that’s a lot of new economic activity.

So I’ve tried to be very specific about what we can and should do, and I am determined that we’re going to get the economy really moving again, building on the progress we’ve made over the last eight years, but never going back to what got us in trouble in the first place.


DONALD TRUMP: She talks about solar panels. We invested in a solar company, our country. That was a disaster. They lost plenty of money on that one.

Now, look, I’m a great believer in all forms of energy, but we’re putting a lot of people out of work. Our energy policies are a disaster. Our country is losing so much in terms of energy, in terms of paying off our debt. You can’t do what you’re looking to do with $20 trillion in debt. The Obama administration, from the time they’ve come in, is over 230 years’ worth of debt, and he’s topped it. He’s doubled it in the course of almost eight years, seven-and-a-half years, to be semi-exact.

So I will tell you this: We have to do a much better job at keeping our jobs. And we have to do a much better job at giving companies incentive to build new companies or to expand, because they’re not doing it. And all you have to do is look at Michigan and look at Ohio and look at all of these places where so many of their—of their jobs and their companies are just leaving, they’re gone.

And, Hillary, I’d just ask you this. You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years, you’ve been doing it, and now you’re just starting to think of solutions.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, actually, that—

DONALD TRUMP: I will bring—excuse me—I will bring back jobs. You can’t bring back jobs.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, actually, I have thought about this quite a bit.

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, for 30 years.

HILLARY CLINTON: And I have—well, not quite that long. I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s. I think a lot about what worked and how we can make it work again.

DONALD TRUMP: Well, he approved NAFTA.

HILLARY CLINTON: [inaudible] million new jobs, a balanced budget.

DONALD TRUMP: He approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.

HILLARY CLINTON: And incomes—incomes went up for everybody. Manufacturing jobs went up also in the 1990s, if we’re actually going to look at the facts.

When I was in the Senate, I had a number of trade deals that came before me, and I held them all to the same test: Will they create jobs in America? Will they raise incomes in America? And are they good for our national security? Some of them I voted for. The biggest one, a multinational one known as CAFTA, I voted against, and because I hold the same standards as I look at all of these trade deals.

But let’s not assume that trade is the only challenge we have in the economy. I think it is a part of it, and I’ve said what I’m going to do. I’m going to have a special prosecutor. We’re going to enforce the trade deals we have, and we’re going to hold people accountable.

When I was secretary of state, we actually increased American exports globally 30 percent. We increased them to China 50 percent. So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that help to create more new jobs.

LESTER HOLT: Very quickly—

DONALD TRUMP: But you haven’t done it in 30 years or 26 years, any number you want to—

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve been a senator, Donald.

DONALD TRUMP: You haven’t done it. You haven’t done it.

HILLARY CLINTON: And I have been a secretary of state.

DONALD TRUMP: And excuse me.

HILLARY CLINTON: And I have done a lot—

DONALD TRUMP: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that’s your opinion. That is your opinion.

DONALD TRUMP: You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacture is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.

And now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it. Then you heard what I was saying, how bad it is, and you said, “I can’t win that debate.” But you know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that—that is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about that in—

DONALD TRUMP: You called it the gold standard.

HILLARY CLINTON: I wrote about—well, I hope—I—

DONALD TRUMP: You called it the gold standard of trade deals.

HILLARY CLINTON: And you know what?

DONALD TRUMP: You said it’s the finest deal you’ve ever seen.


DONALD TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden you were against it.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality—


HILLARY CLINTON: —but that is not the facts. The facts are, I did say I hoped it would be a good deal, but when it was negotiated—


HILLARY CLINTON: —which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn’t. I wrote about that in my book—

DONALD TRUMP: So is it President Obama’s fault?

HILLARY CLINTON: —before you even announced.

DONALD TRUMP: Is it President Obama’s fault?

HILLARY CLINTON: Look, there are different—there—

DONALD TRUMP: Secretary, is it President Obama’s fault?

HILLARY CLINTON: There are different—

DONALD TRUMP: Because he’s pushing it.

HILLARY CLINTON: There are different views about what’s good for our country, our economy and our leadership in the world. And I think it’s important to look at what we need to do to get the economy going again. That’s why I said new jobs with rising incomes, investments, not in more tax cuts that would add $5 trillion to the debt—

DONALD TRUMP: But you have no plan.

HILLARY CLINTON: —but in—oh, I do. In fact, I have written—

DONALD TRUMP: Secretary, you have no plan.

HILLARY CLINTON: —a book about it; it’s called Stronger Together. You can pick it up tomorrow—

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, that’s about all you—

LESTER HOLT: Folks, we’re going to—

HILLARY CLINTON: —at the bookstore or at an airport near you.

LESTER HOLT: We’re going to move to—

HILLARY CLINTON: But it’s because I see this: We need to have strong growth, fair growth, sustained growth. We also have to look at how we help families balance the responsibilities at home and the responsibilities at business.

So we have a very robust set of plans. And people have looked at both of our plans, have concluded that mine would create 10 million jobs, and yours would lose us three-and-a-half million jobs and explode the debt—

DONALD TRUMP: You are going to approve one of the biggest tax cuts in history.

HILLARY CLINTON: —which would have a recession.

DONALD TRUMP: You are going to approve one of the biggest tax increases in history. You are going to drive business out. Your regulations are a disaster, and you’re going to increase regulations all over the place.

And by the way, my tax cut is the biggest since Ronald Reagan. I’m very proud of it. It will create tremendous numbers of new jobs. But regulations, you are going to regulate these businesses out of existence.

When I go around—Lester, I tell you this, I’ve been all over. And when I go around, despite the tax cut, the thing—the things that business, as in people, like the most is the fact that I’m cutting regulation. You have regulations on top of regulations, and new companies cannot form, and old companies are going out of business. And you want to increase the regulations and make them even worse. I’m going to cut regulations. But I’m going to cut taxes big league, and you’re going to raise taxes big league, end of story.

LESTER HOLT: Let me get you to pause right there, because we’re going to move into the—

HILLARY CLINTON: Yes, well, that—

LESTER HOLT: We’re going to move into the next segment. We’re going to talk taxes.

HILLARY CLINTON: But, Lester, that can’t—that can’t be left to stand.

LESTER HOLT: Please just take 30 seconds, and then we’re going to go on.

HILLARY CLINTON: I kind of assumed that there would be a lot of these charges and claims, and so—


HILLARY CLINTON: —we have taken the home page of my website,, and we’ve turned it into a fact checker. So, if you want to see in real time what the facts are, please go and take a look. Because what I have proposed—

DONALD TRUMP: And take a look at mine also, and you’ll see.

HILLARY CLINTON: —would not add a penny to the debt, and your plans would add $5 trillion to the debt. What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have made all the gains in the economy. And I think it’s time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country.

LESTER HOLT: Well, you just opened the next segment.

DONALD TRUMP: Well, look, could I just finish? I think I—

LESTER HOLT: Actually, I need to—we need—I’m going to give you a chance right here—

DONALD TRUMP: I think I should.

LESTER HOLT: —with a new 15-minute segment.

DONALD TRUMP: You go to her website, and you take a look at her website.

LESTER HOLT: It’s on the—

DONALD TRUMP: She’s going to raise taxes $1.3 trillion.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, I’m going to—

DONALD TRUMP: And look at her website. You know what? It’s no difference than this. She’s telling us how to fight ISIS. Just go to her website. She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don’t think General Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.

LESTER HOLT: All right, the next—the next segment, we’re continuing the subject about—

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, at least I have a plan to fight ISIS.

LESTER HOLT: —achieving prosperity.

DONALD TRUMP: No, no, you’re telling the enemy everything you want to do.

HILLARY CLINTON: No, we’re not. No, we’re not.

DONALD TRUMP: See, you’re telling the enemy everything you want to do.

LESTER HOLT: Folks—folks—

HILLARY CLINTON: We are—we are online—

DONALD TRUMP: No wonder you’ve been fighting—no wonder you’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.

LESTER HOLT: Folks—folks, let me—let—

HILLARY CLINTON: That’s a—that’s—go to the—please, the fact checkers, get to work.

LESTER HOLT: Folks, you are unpacking a lot here, and we’re still on the issue of achieving prosperity. And I want to talk about taxes. The fundamental difference between the two of you concerns the wealthy. Secretary Clinton, you’re calling for a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. I’d like you to further defend that. And, Mr. Trump, you’re calling for tax cuts for the wealthy. I’d like you to defend that. And this next two-minute answer goes to you, Mr. Trump.

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I’m really calling for major jobs, because the wealthy are going create tremendous jobs. They’re going to expand their companies. They’re going to do a tremendous job. I’m getting rid of the carried-interest provision. And if you really look, it’s not a tax—it’s really not a great thing for the wealthy. It’s a great thing for the middle class. It’s a great thing for companies to expand.

And when these people are going to put billions and billions of dollars into companies, and when they’re going to bring two-and-a-half trillion dollars back from overseas, where they can’t bring the money back, because politicians like Secretary Clinton won’t allow them to bring the money back, because the taxes are so onerous, and the bureaucratic red tape, so what—is so bad. So what they’re doing is they’re leaving our country, and they’re, believe it or not, leaving because taxes are too high and because some of them have lots of money outside of our country. And instead of bringing it back and putting the money to work, because they can’t work out a deal to—and everybody agrees it should be brought back. Instead of that, they’re leaving our country to get their money, because they can’t bring their money back into our country, because of bureaucratic red tape, because they can’t get together, because we have a—we have a president that can’t sit them around a table and get them to approve something.

And here’s the thing: Republicans and Democrats agree that this should be done. Two-and-a-half trillion. I happen to think it’s double that. It’s probably $5 trillion that we can’t bring into our country, Lester. And with a little leadership, you’d get it in here very quickly, and it could be put to use on the inner cities and lots of other things, and it would be beautiful. But we have no leadership. And honestly, that starts with Secretary Clinton.

LESTER HOLT: All right. You have two minutes on the same question, to defend tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, Secretary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON: I have a feeling that by the end of this evening I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened.


HILLARY CLINTON: Why not? Yeah, why not? You know, just join—join the debate by saying more crazy things. Now, let me say this.

DONALD TRUMP: There’s nothing crazy—

HILLARY CLINTON: It is absolutely the case—it—

DONALD TRUMP: —about not letting our companies bring their money back into their country.

LESTER HOLT: OK, this is—this is Secretary Clinton’s two minutes, please.


HILLARY CLINTON: Yeah, well, let’s start the clock again, Lester. We’ve looked at your tax proposals. I don’t see changes in the corporate tax rates or the kinds of proposals you’re referring to that would cause the repatriation, bringing back of money that’s stranded overseas. I happen to support that.

DONALD TRUMP: Then you didn’t read it.

HILLARY CLINTON: I happen to—I happen to support that in a way that will actually work to our benefit. But when I look at what you have proposed, you have what is called now the Trump loophole, because it would so advantage you and the business you do. You’ve proposed an approach that has a—

DONALD TRUMP: Who gave it that name? The first I’ve ever—who gave it that name?

LESTER HOLT: This is—sir, this is Secretary Clinton’s two minutes.

HILLARY CLINTON: —$4 billion tax benefit for your family. And when you look at what you are proposing—

DONALD TRUMP: How much—how much for my family? Lester, how much?

HILLARY CLINTON: —it is, as I said, trumped-up trickle-down. Trickle-down did not work. It got us into the mess we were in in 2008 and '09. Slashing taxes on the wealthy hasn't worked. And a lot of really smart, wealthy people know that, and they are saying, “Hey, we need to do more to make the contributions we should be making to rebuild the middle class.”

I don’t think top-down works in America. I think building the middle class, investing in the middle class, making college debt-free so more young people can get their education, helping people refinance their—their debt from college at a lower rate—those are the kinds of things that will really boost the economy. Broad-based, inclusive growth is what we need in America, not more advantages for people at the very top.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, we’re—

DONALD TRUMP: Typical politician: all talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work. Never going to happen. Our country is suffering because people like Secretary Clinton have made such bad decisions in terms of our jobs and in terms of what’s going on.

Now, look, we have the worst revival of an economy since the Great Depression. And believe me: We’re in a bubble right now. And the only thing that looks good is the stock market, but if you raise interest rates even a little bit, that’s going to come crashing down. We are in a big, fat, ugly bubble. And we better be awfully careful.

And we have a Fed that’s doing political things. This Janet Yellen of the Fed—the Fed is doing political—by keeping the interest rates at this level. And believe me: The day Obama goes off and he leaves and he goes out to the golf course for the rest of his life to play golf, when they raise interest rates, you’re going to see some very bad things happen, because the Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, we’re talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns. And the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so that voters will know if their potential president owes money to who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?

DONALD TRUMP: I don’t mind releasing. I’m under a routine audit, and it’ll be released. And as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released. But you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections, where I filed a 104-page essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have. It shows income—in fact, the income—I just looked today—the income is filed at $694 million for this past year, $694 million. If you would have told me I was going to make that 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been very surprised.

But that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs. When we have a country that’s doing so badly, that’s being ripped off by every single country in the world, it’s the kind of thinking that our country needs, because everybody—Lester, we have a trade deficit, with all of the countries that we do business with, of almost $800 billion a year. You know what that is? That means—who’s negotiating these trade deals? We have people that are political hacks negotiating our trade deals.

LESTER HOLT: The IRS says an audit—

DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me.

LESTER HOLT: —of your taxes—you’re perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. And so the question: Does the public’s right to know outweigh your personal—

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I told you, I will release them as soon as the audit. Look, I’ve been under audit almost for 15 years. I know a lot of wealthy people that have never been audited. I said, “Do you get audited?” I get audited almost every year. And in a way, I should be complaining. I’m not even complaining. I don’t mind it. It’s almost become a way of life. I get audited by the IRS. But other people don’t.

I will say this. We have a situation in this country that has to be taken care of. I will release my tax returns—against my lawyer’s wishes—when she releases her 33,000 emails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release.


DONALD TRUMP: I will release my tax returns. And that’s against—my lawyers, they say, “Don’t do it.” I will tell you this. No—in fact, watching shows, they’re reading the papers. Almost every lawyer says you don’t release your returns until the audit’s complete. When the audit’s complete, I’ll do it. But I would go against them if she releases her emails.

LESTER HOLT: So it’s negotiable?

DONALD TRUMP: It’s not negotiable, no. Let her release the—why did she delete 33,000 emails?

LESTER HOLT: Well, I’ll let her answer that. But let me just admonish the audience one more time. There was an agreement: We did ask you to be silent, so it would be helpful for us. Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think you’ve just seen another example of bait and switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly, I think, 39, 40 years of our tax returns, but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you’re under audit.

So you’ve got to ask yourself: Why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax. So—

DONALD TRUMP: That makes me smart.

HILLARY CLINTON: —if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health. And I think probably he’s not all that enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons are, because it must be something really important, even terrible, that he’s trying to hide.

And the financial disclosure statements, they don’t give you the tax rate. They don’t give you all the details that tax returns would. And it just seems to me that this is something that the American people deserve to see. And I have no reason to believe that he’s ever going to release his tax returns, because there’s something he’s hiding. And we’ll guess. We’ll keep guessing at what it might be that he’s hiding. But I think the question is: Were he ever to get near the White House, what would be those conflicts? Who does he owe money to? Well, he owes you the answers to that, and he should provide them.

LESTER HOLT: He also—he also raised the issue of your emails. Do you want to respond to that?

HILLARY CLINTON: I do. You know, I made a mistake using a private email.

DONALD TRUMP: That’s for sure.

HILLARY CLINTON: And if I had to do it over again, I would, obviously, do it differently. But I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake, and I take responsibility for that.


DONALD TRUMP: That was more than a mistake; that was done purposely. OK? That was not a mistake; that was done purposely. When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they’re not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it’s disgraceful. And believe me, this country thinks it’s—really thinks it’s disgraceful also.

As far as my tax returns, you don’t learn that much from tax returns. That I can tell you. You learn a lot from financial disclosure. And you should go down and take a look at that.

The other thing, I’m extremely underleveraged. The report that said 650—which, by the way, a lot of friends of mine that know my business say, “Boy, that’s really not a lot of money.” It’s not a lot of money relative to what I had. The buildings that were in question, they said in the same report, which was—actually, it wasn’t even a bad story, to be honest with you, but the buildings are worth $3.9 billion. And the 650 isn’t even on that. But it’s not 650. It’s much less than that.

But I could give you a list of banks. I would—if that would help you, I would give you a list of banks. These are very fine institutions, very fine banks. I could do that very quickly.

I am very underleveraged. I have a great company. I have a tremendous income. And the reason I say that is not in a braggadocious way. It’s because it’s about time that this country had somebody running it that has an idea about money.

When we have $20 trillion in debt and our country’s a mess—you know, it’s one thing to have $20 trillion in debt and our roads are good and our bridges are good and everything’s in great shape, our airports. Our airports are like from a Third World country. You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible—you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, and you land—we’ve become a Third World country.

So, the worst of all things has happened: We owe $20 trillion, and we’re a mess. We haven’t even started. And we’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, according to a report that I just saw. Whether it’s six or five, but it looks like it’s six, $6 trillion in the Middle East, we could have rebuilt our country twice. And it’s really a shame.

And it’s politicians like Secretary Clinton that have caused this problem. Our country has tremendous problems. We’re a debtor nation. We’re a serious debtor nation. And we have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals. And we don’t have the money, because it’s been squandered on so many of your ideas.

LESTER HOLT: Let you respond, and we’ll move on to our next—

HILLARY CLINTON: And maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years. And the other thing I think is important to point out—

DONALD TRUMP: It would be squandered, too, believe me.

HILLARY CLINTON: —is if your—if your main claim to be president of the United States is your business, then I think we should talk about that. You know, your campaign manager said that you built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys. And, indeed, I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald. I’ve met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers, like my dad was, who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do.

We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It’s a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn’t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do.

DONALD TRUMP: Maybe he didn’t do a good job, and I was unsatisfied with his work.


DONALD TRUMP: Which our country should do, too.

HILLARY CLINTON: Do the thousands of people that you have stiffed over the course of your business not deserve some kind of apology from someone who has taken their labor, taken the goods that they produced, and then refused to pay them?

I can only say that I’m certainly relieved that my late father never did business with you. He provided a good middle-class life for us. But the people he worked for, he expected the bargain to be kept on both sides.

And when we talk about your business, you’ve taken business bankruptcy six times. There are a lot of great business people that have never taken bankruptcy once. You call yourself the king of debt. You talk about leverage. You even at one time suggested that you would try to negotiate down the—


HILLARY CLINTON: —national debt of the United States.


HILLARY CLINTON: Well, sometimes there’s not a direct transfer of skills from business to government, but sometimes what happened in business would be really bad for government.

LESTER HOLT: Let’s let Mr. Trump—

HILLARY CLINTON: And we need to be very clear about that.

DONALD TRUMP: So, yeah, I think it’s—I do think it’s time. Look, it’s all words. It’s all sound bites. I built an unbelievable company, some of the greatest assets anywhere in the world, real estate assets anywhere in the world, beyond the United States, in Europe, lots of different places. It’s an unbelievable company.

But on occasion, four times, we used certain laws that are there. And when Secretary Clinton talks about people that didn’t get paid, first of all, they did get paid a lot. But taking advantage of the laws of the nation—now, if you want to change the laws—you’ve been there a long time—change the laws. But I take advantage of the laws of the nation, because I’m running a company. My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies. And that’s what I do.

But what she doesn’t say is that tens of thousands of people that are unbelievably happy and that love me. I’ll give you an example. We’re just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the White House, so if I don’t get there one way, I’m going to get to Pennsylvania Avenue another. But we’re opening the Old Post Office—under budget, ahead of schedule, saved tremendous money. I’m a year ahead of schedule. And that’s what this country should be doing.

We build roads, and they cost two and three and four times what they’re supposed to cost. We buy products for our military, and they come at costs that are so far above what they were supposed to be, because we don’t have people that know what they’re doing. When we look at the budget, the budget is bad to a large extent because we have people that have no idea as to what to do and how to buy. The Trump International is way under budget and way ahead of schedule. And we should be able to do that for our country.

LESTER HOLT: Well, we’re well behind schedule, so I want to move to our next segment. We move into our next segment talking about America’s direction. And let’s start by talking about race. The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it’s been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African Americans by police, as we’ve seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap. So how do you heal the divide? Secretary Clinton, you get two minutes on this.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, you’re right. Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much, often determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get. And, yes, it determines how they’re treated in the criminal justice system. We’ve just seen those two tragic examples in both Tulsa and Charlotte.

And we’ve got to do several things at the same time. We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they’re well prepared to use force only when necessary. Everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should respect the law. Right now that’s not the case in a lot of our neighborhoods. So I have, ever since the first day of my campaign, called for criminal justice reform. I’ve laid out a platform that I think would begin to remedy some of the problems we have in the criminal justice system.

But we also have to recognize, in addition to the challenges that we face with policing, there are so many good, brave police officers who equally want reform. So we have to bring communities together in order to begin working on that as a mutual goal.

And we’ve got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. The gun epidemic is the leading cause of death of young African-American men, more than the next nine causes put together.

So we have to do two things, as I said. We have to restore trust. We have to work with the police. We have to make sure they respect the communities and the communities respect them. And we have to tackle the plague of gun violence, which is a big contributor to a lot of the problems that we’re seeing today.

LESTER HOLT: All right, Mr. Trump, you have two minutes. How do you heal the divide?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words, and that’s “law” and “order.” And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.

And when I look at what’s going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what’s going on throughout various parts of our country, whether it’s—I mean, I can just keep naming them all day long—we need law and order in our country.

And I just got today the—as you know, the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. We just—just came in. We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group, very—I mean, a large percentage of them in the United States.

We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African Americans, Hispanics are living in hell, because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot. In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st, thousands of shootings. And I’m saying, “Where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing?” And we have to stop the violence. We have to bring back law and order. In a place like Chicago, where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years—in fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president. Over four—almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed. We have to bring back law and order.

Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop-and-frisk, which worked very well—Mayor Giuliani is here—worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn’t be having it. We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant. We have to be—we have to know what we’re doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime. Decimated.

LESTER HOLT: Your two minutes is—your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.

DONALD TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won on appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.

LESTER HOLT: The argument is that it’s a form of racial profiling.

DONALD TRUMP: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and that are bad people that shouldn’t have them. These are felons. These are people that are bad people that shouldn’t be—when you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop-and-frisk. You need more police.

You need a better community, you know, relation. You don’t have good community relations in Chicago. It’s terrible. I have property there. It’s terrible what’s going on in Chicago. But when you look—and Chicago’s not the only—you go to Ferguson, you go to so many different places. You need better relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this. You need better relationships between the communities and the police, because in some cases it’s not good.

But you look at Dallas, where the relationships were really studied, the relationships were really a beautiful thing, and then five police officers were killed one night very violently. So there’s some bad things going on. Some really bad things.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton, you want to weigh in?

DONALD TRUMP: But we need—Lester, we need law and order. And we need law and order in the inner cities, because the people that are most affected by what’s happening are African-American and Hispanic people. And it’s very unfair to them what our politicians are allowing to happen.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve heard—I’ve heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it’s really unfortunate that he paints such a dire, negative picture of black communities in our country.


HILLARY CLINTON: You know, the vibrancy of the black church, the black businesses that employ so many people, the opportunities that so many families are working to provide for their kids—there’s a lot that we should be proud of and we should be supporting and lifting up.

But we do always have to make sure we keep people safe. There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are ways that are ineffective. Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional, and in part because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do.

Now, I believe in community policing. And, in fact, violent crime is one-half of what it was in 1991. Property crime is down 40 percent. We just don’t want to see it creep back up. We’ve had 25 years of very good cooperation.

But there were some problems, some unintended consequences. Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses. And it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated.

So, we’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We cannot just say law and order. We have to say—we have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system, deal with mandatory minimum sentences, which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little. We need to have more second chance programs. I’m glad that we’re ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans. So, there are some positive ways we can work on this.

And I believe strongly that commonsense gun safety measures would assist us. Right now—and this is something Donald has supported, along with the gun lobby—right now, we’ve got too many military-style weapons on the streets. In a lot of places, our police are outgunned. We need comprehensive background checks, and we need to keep guns out of the hands of those who will do harm. And we finally need to pass a prohibition on anyone who’s on the terrorist watchlist from being able to buy a gun in our country. If you’re too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun. So there are things we can do, and we ought to do it in a bipartisan way.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary—Secretary Clinton, last week, you said we’ve got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias. Do you believe that police are implicitly biased against black people?

HILLARY CLINTON: Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other. And therefore, I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions about, you know, why am I feeling this way?

But when it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said, in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by retraining a lot of our police officers.

I’ve met with a group of very distinguished, experienced police chiefs a few weeks ago. They admit it’s an issue. They’ve got a lot of concerns. Mental health is one of the biggest concerns, because now police are having to handle a lot of really difficult mental health problems on the street. They want support. They want more training. They want more assistance. And I think the federal government could be in a position where we would offer and provide that.


DONALD TRUMP: I’d like to respond to that.


DONALD TRUMP: First of all, I agree—and a lot of people even within my own party want to give certain rights to people on watchlists and no-fly lists. I agree with you. When a person is on a watchlist or a no-fly list—and I have the endorsement of the NRA, which I’m very proud of. These are very, very good people, and they’re protecting the Second Amendment. But I think we have to look very strongly at no-fly lists and watchlists. And when people are on there, even if they shouldn’t be on there—we’ll help them, we’ll help them legally, we’ll help them get off. But I tend to agree with that quite strongly.

I do want to bring up the fact that you were the one that brought up the word “superpredator” about young black youth. And that’s a term that I think was a—it’s been horribly met, as you know. I think you’ve apologized for it. But I think it was a terrible thing to say.

And when it comes to stop-and-frisk, you know, you’re talking about taking guns away. Well, I’m talking about taking guns away from gangs and people that use them. And I don’t think—I really don’t think you disagree with me on this, if you want to know the truth. I think maybe there’s a political reason why you can’t say it, but I really don’t believe—in New York City, stop-and-frisk, we had 2,200 murders, and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five hundred murders is a lot of murders. Hard to believe 500 is like supposed to be good? But we went from 2,200 to 500. And it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg. And it was terminated by our current mayor. But stop-and-frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City, tremendous beyond belief. So when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very, very big impact.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it’s also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is—

DONALD TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong.


DONALD TRUMP: Murders are up. All right, you check it.

HILLARY CLINTON: New York—New York has done—

DONALD TRUMP: You check it.

HILLARY CLINTON: —an excellent job. And I give credit—I give credit across the board, going back two mayors, two police chiefs, because it has worked. And other communities need to come together to do what will work, as well.

Look, one murder is too many.


HILLARY CLINTON: But it is important that we learn about what has been effective, and not go to things that sound good that really did not have the kind of impact that we would want. Who disagrees with keeping neighborhoods safe?

But let’s also add, no one should disagree about respecting the rights of young men who live in those neighborhoods. And so we need to do a better job of working, again, with the communities, faith communities, business communities, as well as the police, to try to deal with this problem.

LESTER HOLT: This conversation is about race. And so, Mr. Trump, I have to ask you. For five—

DONALD TRUMP: But I’d like to just respond, if I might.

LESTER HOLT: Please—20 seconds.

DONALD TRUMP: I’d just like to respond.

LESTER HOLT: Please respond, then I’ve got a follow-up for you.

DONALD TRUMP: I will. Look, the African-American community has been let down by our politicians. They talk good around election time, like right now, and after the election, they said, “See ya later, I’ll see you in four years.” The African-American community—look, the community within the inner cities has been so badly treated. They’ve been abused and used in order to get votes by Democrat politicians, because that’s what it is. They’ve controlled these communities for up to a hundred years—

LESTER HOLT: All right, Mr. Trump, let me—

DONALD TRUMP: —unbroken.


DONALD TRUMP: And I will tell you, you look at the inner cities—and I just left Detroit, and I just left Philadelphia, and I just—you know. You’ve seen me. I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s OK. But I will tell you, I’ve been all over. And I’ve met some of the greatest people I’ll ever meet within these communities. And they are very, very upset with what their politicians have told them and what their politicians have done.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, I—

HILLARY CLINTON: I think—I think that—I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, for five years you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: The president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?

DONALD TRUMP: I’ll tell you very—well, just very simple to say. Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and close—very close friend of Secretary Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle, went to—during the campaign, her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. And you can go look it up, and you can check it out. And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate.

When I got involved, I didn’t fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. So I’m satisfied with it. And I’ll tell you why I’m satisfied with it.

LESTER HOLT: That was in 2011.

DONALD TRUMP: Because I want to get on to defeating ISIS, because I want to get on to creating jobs, because I want to get on to having a strong border, because I want to get on to things that are very important to me and that are very important to the country.

LESTER HOLT: I will let you respond. It’s important. But I just want to get the answer here. The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You continued to tell the story and question the president’s legitimacy in 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15.


LESTER HOLT: As recently as January. So the question is: What changed your mind?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, nobody was pressing it. Nobody was caring much about it. I figured you’d ask the question tonight, of course. But nobody was caring much about it. But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job.

Secretary Clinton also fought it. I mean, you know, now everybody in mainstream is going to say, “Oh, that’s not true.” Look, it’s true. Sidney Blumenthal sent a reporter. You just have to take a look at CNN, the last week, the interview with your former campaign manager. And she was involved. But just like she can’t bring back jobs, she can’t produce.

LESTER HOLT: I’m sorry. I’m just going to follow up, and I will let you respond to that, because there’s a lot there. But we’re talking about racial healing in this segment. What do you say to Americans, especially people of color who [inaudible]—

DONALD TRUMP: Well, it was very—I say nothing. I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it. He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing.

But let me just tell you. When you talk about healing, I think that I’ve developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African-American community. I think you can see that. And I feel that they really wanted me to come to that conclusion. And I think I did a great job and a great service not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, just listen to what you heard. And clearly, as Donald just admitted, he knew he was going to stand on this debate stage and Lester Holt was going to be asking us questions, so 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. He persisted year after year, because some of his supporters, people that he was trying to bring into his fold, apparently believed it or wanted to believe it.

But, remember, Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination, because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African Americans, and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy. He actually was sued twice by the Justice Department. So he has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.

And the birther lie was a very hurtful one. You know, Barack Obama is a man of great dignity. And I could tell how much it bothered him and annoyed him that this was being touted and used against him. But I like to remember what Michelle Obama said in her amazing speech at our Democratic National Convention: “When they go low, we go high.” And Barack Obama went high, despite Donald Trump’s best efforts to bring him down.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, you can respond, then we’re going to move on to the next segment.

DONALD TRUMP: I would love to respond. First of all, I got to watch, in preparing for this, some of your debates against Barack Obama. You treated him with terrible disrespect. And I watched the way you talk now about how lovely everything is and how wonderful you are. It doesn’t work that way. You were after him. You were trying to—you even sent out or your campaign sent out pictures of him in a certain garb, very famous pictures. I don’t think you can deny that. But just last week, your campaign manager said it was true. So when you try to act holier than thou, it really doesn’t work. It really doesn’t.

Now, as far as the lawsuit, yes, when I was very young, I went into my father’s company. He had a real estate company in Brooklyn and Queens. And we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country—it was a federal lawsuit—were sued. We settled the suit with zero—with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do. But they sued many people. I notice you bring that up a lot. And, you know, I also notice the very nasty commercials that you do on me in so many different ways, which I don’t do on you. Maybe I’m trying to save the money. But, frankly, I look—I look at that, and I say, “Isn’t that amazing?” because I settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt, but that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it’s just one of those things.

I’ll go one step further. In Palm Beach, Florida, tough community, a brilliant community, a wealthy community, probably the wealthiest community there is in the world, I opened a club and really got great credit for it. No discrimination against African Americans, against Muslims, against anybody. And it’s a tremendously successful club. And I’m so glad I did it. And I have been given great credit for what I did. And I’m very, very proud of it. And that’s the way I feel. That is the true way I feel.

LESTER HOLT: Our next segment is called “Securing America.” We want to start with a 21st century war happening every day in this country. Our institutions are under cyber-attack, and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is, who’s behind it? And how do we fight it? Secretary Clinton, this answer goes to you.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think cybersecurity, cyberwarfare will be one of the biggest challenges facing the next president, because clearly we’re facing at this point two different kinds of adversaries. There are the independent hacking groups that do it mostly for commercial reasons, to try to steal information that they then can use to make money.

But increasingly, we are seeing cyber-attacks coming from states, organs of states. The most recent and troubling of these has been Russia. There’s no doubt now that Russia has used cyber-attacks against all kinds of organizations in our country, and I am deeply concerned about this. I know Donald’s very praiseworthy of Vladimir Putin, but Putin is playing a really—

DONALD TRUMP: You’re wrong.

HILLARY CLINTON: —tough, long game here. And one of the things he’s done is to let loose cyber-attackers to hack into government files, to hack into personal files, hack into the Democratic National Committee. And we recently have learned that, you know, that this is one of their preferred methods of trying to wreak havoc and collect information. We need to make it very clear, whether it’s Russia, China, Iran or anybody else, the United States has much greater capacity. And we are not going to sit idly by and permit state actors to go after our information, our private-sector information or our public-sector information.

And we’re going to have to make it clear that we don’t want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare. But we will defend the citizens of this country. And the Russians need to understand that. I think they’ve been treating it as almost a probing of how far would we go, how much would we do. And that’s why I was so—I was so shocked when Donald publicly invited Putin to hack into Americans. That is just unacceptable. It’s one of the reasons why 50 national security officials who served in Republican information—in administrations—

LESTER HOLT: Your two minutes has expired.

HILLARY CLINTON: —have said that Donald is unfit to be the commander- in-chief. It’s comments like that that really worry people who understand the threats that we face.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, you have two minutes and the same question. Who’s behind it? And how do we fight it?

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, I do want to say that I was just endorsed—and more are coming next week—it’ll be over 200 admirals—many of them are here—admirals and generals endorsed me to lead this country. That just happened, and many more are coming. And I’m very proud of it. In addition, I was just endorsed by ICE. They’ve never endorsed anybody before, on immigration. I was just endorsed by ICE. I was just recently endorsed—16,500 Border Patrol agents. So, when Secretary Clinton talks about this, I mean, I’ll take the admirals and I’ll take the generals any day over the political hacks that I see that have led our country so brilliantly over the last 10 years with their knowledge. OK? Because look at the mess that we’re in. Look at the mess that we’re in.

As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said. We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not. I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t—maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don’t know who broke into DNC.

But what did we learn with DNC? We learned that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people, by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Look what happened to her. But Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of. That’s what we learned.

Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don’t know, because the truth is, under President Obama, we’ve lost control of things that we used to have control over. We came in with the internet. We came up with the internet. And I think Secretary Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the internet, they’re beating us at our own game. ISIS.

So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyberwarfare. It is a—it is a huge problem. I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing. But that’s true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester, and certainly cyber is one of them.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think there are a number of issues that we should be addressing. I have put forth a plan to defeat ISIS. It does involve going after them online. I think we need to do much more with our tech companies to prevent ISIS and their operatives from being able to use the internet to radicalize, even direct people in our country, in Europe and elsewhere.

But we also have to intensify our airstrikes against ISIS and eventually support our Arab and Kurdish partners to be able to actually take out ISIS in Raqqa, end their claim of being a caliphate. We’re making progress. Our military is assisting in Iraq. And we’re hoping that within the year we’ll be able to push ISIS out of Iraq and then, you know, really squeeze them in Syria. But we have to be cognizant of the fact that they’ve had foreign fighters coming to volunteer for them, foreign money, foreign weapons, so we have to make this the top priority.

And I would also do everything possible to take out their leadership. I was involved in a number of efforts to take out al-Qaeda leadership when I was secretary of state, including, of course, taking out bin Laden. And I think we need to go after Baghdadi, as well, make that one of our organizing principles, because we’ve got to defeat ISIS, and we’ve got to do everything we can to disrupt their propaganda efforts online.

LESTER HOLT: You mentioned ISIS, and we think of ISIS certainly as over there, but there are American citizens who have been inspired to commit acts of terror on American soil—the latest incident, of course, the bombings we just saw in New York and New Jersey, the knife attack at a mall in Minnesota, in the last year, deadly attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando. I’ll ask this to both of you: Tell us specifically how you would prevent homegrown attacks by American citizens. Mr. Trump?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, first I have to say one thing, very important. Secretary Clinton is talking about taking out ISIS. “We will take out ISIS.” Well, President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out wrong. They shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed. So she talks about taking them out. She’s been doing it a long time. She’s been trying to take them out for a long time. But they wouldn’t have even been formed if they left some troops behind, like 10,000 or maybe something more than that. And then you wouldn’t have had them.

Or, as I’ve been saying for a long time, and I think you’ll agree, because I said it to you once, had we taken the oil—and we should have taken the oil—ISIS would not have been able to form either, because the oil was their primary source of income. And now they have the oil all over the place, including the oil—a lot of the oil in Libya, which was another one of her disasters.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I hope the fact checkers are turned upping—turning up the volume and really working hard. Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.


HILLARY CLINTON: That is absolutely—


HILLARY CLINTON: —proved over and over again.


HILLARY CLINTON: He actually advocated for the actions we took in Libya, and urged that Gaddafi be taken out—after, actually, doing some business with him one time.

But the larger point—and he says this constantly—is George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama. And the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that.

But let’s talk about the question you asked, Lester. The question you asked is: What do we do here in the United States? That’s the most important part of this. How do we prevent attacks? How do we protect our people?

And I think we’ve got to have an intelligence surge, where we are looking for every scrap of information. I was so proud of law enforcement in New York, in Minnesota, in New Jersey. You know, they responded so quickly, so professionally, to the attacks that occurred by Rahami. And they brought him down. And we may find out more information because he is still alive, which may prove to be an intelligence benefit.

So we’ve got to do everything we can to vacuum up intelligence from Europe, from the Middle East. That means we’ve got to work more closely with our allies. And that’s something that Donald has been very dismissive of.

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.

They’re on the front lines. They can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else. They need to have close working cooperation with law enforcement in these communities, not be alienated and pushed away as some of Donald’s rhetoric, unfortunately, has led to.


DONALD TRUMP: Well, I have to respond.

LESTER HOLT: Please respond.

DONALD TRUMP: The secretary said very strongly about working with—we’ve been working with them for many years, and we have the greatest mess anyone’s ever seen. You look at the Middle East, it’s a total mess—under your direction, to a large extent. But you look at the Middle East, you started the Iran deal. That’s another beauty, where you have a country that was ready to fall. I mean, they were doing so badly. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they’re going to be actually probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they’re going.

But when you look at NATO, I was asked on a major show, “What do you think of NATO?” And you have to understand, I’m a businessperson. I did really well. But I have common sense. And I said, “Well, I’ll tell you. I haven’t given lots of thought to NATO. But two things.” Number one, the 28 countries of NATO, many of them aren’t paying their fair share. Number two—and that bothers me, because we should be asking—we’re defending them, and they should at least be paying us what they’re supposed to be paying by treaty and contract.

And, number two, I said, and very strongly, NATO could be obsolete, because—and I was very strong on this, and it was actually covered very accurately in The New York Times, which is unusual for The New York Times, to be honest. But I said they do not focus on terror. And I was very strong. And I said it numerous times.

And about four months ago, I read on the front page of The Wall Street Journal that NATO is opening up a major terror division. And I think that’s great. And I think we should get—because we pay approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO. It’s a lot of money to protect other people. But I’m all for NATO. But I said they have to focus on terror also. And they’re going to do that. And that was—believe me—I’m sure I’m not going to get credit for it—but that was largely because of what I was saying and my criticism of NATO.

I think we have to get NATO to go into the Middle East with us, in addition to surrounding nations, and we have to knock the hell out of ISIS, and we have to do it fast. When ISIS formed in this vacuum created by Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton—and, believe me, you were the ones that took out the troops. Not only that, you named the day. They couldn’t believe it. They sat back probably and said, “I can’t believe it.” They said—

HILLARY CLINTON: Lester, we’ve covered—

DONALD TRUMP: No, wait a minute.

HILLARY CLINTON: We’ve covered this ground.

DONALD TRUMP: When they formed, when they formed, this is something that never should have happened. It should have never happened. Now, you’re talking about taking out ISIS. But you were there, and you were secretary of state when it was a little infant. Now it’s in over 30 countries. And you’re going to stop them? I don’t think so.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, with—a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your judgment—

DONALD TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.


DONALD TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she—frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

LESTER HOLT: My question is, since you supported it, why is your—

DONALD TRUMP: Would you like to hear?

LESTER HOLT: Why is your judgment—

DONALD TRUMP: I was against the war—wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.

LESTER HOLT: The record shows otherwise, but why is—

DONALD TRUMP: The record does not show that.

LESTER HOLT: Why is your judgment any—

DONALD TRUMP: The record shows that I’m right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows? Essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox. And Sean Hannity said—and he called me the other day, and I spoke to him about it. He said, “You were totally against the war,” because he was for the war.

LESTER HOLT: Why is your judgment better than—

DONALD TRUMP: And when—excuse me. And that was before the war started. Sean Hannity said, very strongly, to me and other people—he’s willing to say it, but nobody wants to call him. I was against the war. He said, “You used to have fights with me,” because Sean was in favor of the war. And I understand that side also, not very much, because we should have never been there. But nobody calls Sean Hannity.

And then they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started—I think in '04. But they did an article which had me totally against the war in Iraq. And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, Trump was definitely—because if you read this article, there's no doubt. But if somebody—and I’ll ask the press—if somebody would call up Sean Hannity—this was before the war started, he and I used to have arguments about the war. I said, it’s a terrible and a stupid thing. It’s going to destabilize the Middle East. And that’s exactly what it’s done. It’s been a disaster.

LESTER HOLT: My reference was to what you had said in 2002, and my question was—

DONALD TRUMP: No, no. You didn’t hear what I said.

LESTER HOLT: Why is your judgment—why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s judgment?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know? I have a much better—she spent—let me tell you—she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising—you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room, they put names—oh, temperament, let’s go after—I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not know how to win.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

DONALD TRUMP: Wait. The AF-of-L-CIO, the other day, behind the blue screen, I don’t know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you was totally out of control. I said, “There’s a person with a temperament that’s got a problem.”

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON: Whew, OK. Let’s—let’s talk about two important issues that were briefly mentioned by Donald. First, NATO. You know, NATO, as a military alliance, has something called Article 5, and basically it says this: An attack on one is an attack on all. And do you know the only time it’s ever been invoked? After 9/11, when the 28 nations of NATO said that they would go to Afghanistan with us to fight terrorism, something that they still are doing by our side.

With respect to Iran, when I became secretary of state, Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb. They had mastered the nuclear fuel cycle under the Bush administration. They had built covert facilities. They had stocked them with centrifuges that were whirling away. And we had sanctioned them. I voted for every sanction against Iran when I was in the Senate. But it wasn’t enough. So I spent a year and a half putting together a coalition, that included Russia and China, to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran. And we did drive them to the negotiating table. And my successor, John Kerry, and President Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program—without firing a single shot. That’s diplomacy. That’s coalition building. That’s working with other nations.

The other day, I saw Donald saying that there were some Iranian sailors on a ship in the waters off of Iran, and they were taunting American sailors who were on a nearby ship. He said, “You know, if they taunted our sailors, I’d blow them out of the water”—and start another war. That’s not good judgment.

DONALD TRUMP: That would not start a war.

HILLARY CLINTON: That is not the right temperament to be commander-in-chief, to be taunted. And the worst part—

DONALD TRUMP: No, they were taunting us.

HILLARY CLINTON: —of what we heard Donald say has been about nuclear weapons. He has said repeatedly that he didn’t care if other nations got nuclear weapons—Japan, South Korea, even Saudi Arabia. It has been the policy of the United States, Democrats and Republicans, to do everything we could to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He even said, “Well, you know, if there were nuclear war in the East Asia, well, you know, that’s fine.


HILLARY CLINTON: “You know, have a good time, folks.”

DONALD TRUMP: It’s lies.

HILLARY CLINTON: And, in fact, his cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons is so deeply troubling. That is the number one threat we face in the world. And it becomes particularly threatening if terrorists ever get their hands on any nuclear material. So a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes, as far as I think anyone with any sense about this should be concerned.

DONALD TRUMP: That line’s getting a little bit old, I must say. Listen—

HILLARY CLINTON: It’s a good one, though. It well describes the problem.

DONALD TRUMP: It’s not an accurate one at all. It’s not an accurate one. So, I just want to—she gave a lot of things, and just to respond. I agree with her on one thing: The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons—not global warming, like you think and your—your president thinks.

Nuclear is the single greatest threat. Just to go down the list, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia, we defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us, because we are providing tremendous service, and we’re losing a fortune. That’s why we’re losing. We’re losing. We lose on everything. I say, “Who makes these”—we lose on everything. All I said, that it’s very possible that if they don’t pay a fair share, because this isn’t 40 years ago where we could do what we’re doing—we can’t defend Japan, a behemoth, selling us cars by the million.

LESTER HOLT: We need to move on.

DONALD TRUMP: Well, wait, but it’s very important. All I said was they may have to defend themselves, or they have to help us out. We’re a country that owes $20 trillion. They have to help us out.

LESTER HOLT: Our last—

DONALD TRUMP: As far as the nuclear is concerned, I agree. It is the single greatest threat that this country has.

LESTER HOLT: Which leads to my next question as we enter our last segment here on—still on the subject of securing America. On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s long-standing policy on first use. Do you support the current policy? Mr. Trump, you have two minutes on that.

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I have to say that, you know, for what Secretary Clinton was saying about nuclear with Russia, she’s very cavalier in the way she talks about various countries. But Russia has been expanding their—they have a much newer capability than we do. We have not been updating from the new standpoint. I looked the other night. I was seeing B-52s. They’re old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them. We are not—we are not keeping up with other countries.

I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike. I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table, because you look at some of these countries—you look at North Korea, we’re doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.

And by the way, another one powerful is the worst deal I think I’ve ever seen negotiated, that you started, is the Iran deal. Iran is one of their biggest trading partners. Iran has power over North Korea. And when they made that horrible deal with Iran, they should have included the fact that they do something with respect to North Korea. And they should have done something with respect to Yemen and all these other places.

And when asked to Secretary Kerry, “Why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you add other things into the deal?”—one of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including $400 million in cash. Nobody’s ever seen that before. That turned out to be wrong. It was actually $1.7 billion in cash, obviously, I guess, for the hostages. It certainly looks that way. So you say to yourself, why didn’t they make the right deal? This is one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history. The deal with Iran will lead to nuclear problems. All they have to do is sit back 10 years, and they don’t have to do much—

LESTER HOLT: Your two minutes is expired.

DONALD TRUMP: —and they’re going to end up getting nuclear. I met with Bibi Netanyahu the other day. Believe me, he is not a happy camper.

LESTER HOLT: All right. Mrs. Clinton—


LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton, you have two minutes.

HILLARY CLINTON: Let me—let me start by saying, words matter. Words matter when you run for president. And they really matter when you are president. And I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties, and we will honor them. It is essential that America’s word be good. And so, I know that this campaign has caused some questioning and some worries on the part of many leaders across the globe. I’ve talked with a number of them. But I want to, on behalf of myself and I think on behalf of a majority of the American people, say that, you know, our word is good.

It’s also important that we look at the entire global situation. There’s no doubt that we have other problems with Iran. But personally, I’d rather deal with the other problems, having put that lid on their nuclear program, than still to be facing that.

And Donald never tells you what he would do. Would he have started a war? Would he have bombed Iran? If he’s going to criticize a deal that has been very successful in giving us access to Iranian facilities that we never had before, then he should tell us what his alternative would be. But it’s like his plan to defeat ISIS: He says it’s a secret plan, but the only secret is that he has no plan.

So, we need to be more precise in how we talk about these issues. People around the word follow our presidential campaigns so closely, trying to get hints about what we will do. Can they rely on us? Are we going to lead the world with strength and in accordance with our values? That’s what I intend to do. I intend to be a leader of our country that people can count on, both here at home and around the world, to make decisions that will further peace and prosperity, but also stand up to bullies, whether they’re abroad or at home. We cannot let those who would try to destabilize the world to interfere with American interests and security—

LESTER HOLT: Your two minutes is—

HILLARY CLINTON: —to be given any opportunities at all.

LESTER HOLT: —is expired. Mr. Trump—

DONALD TRUMP: Lester, one thing I’d like to say.

LESTER HOLT: Very quickly. Twenty seconds, please.

DONALD TRUMP: I will go very quickly. But I will tell you that Hillary will tell you to go to her website and read all about how to defeat ISIS, which she could have defeated by never having it, you know, get going in the first place. Right now, it’s getting tougher and tougher to defeat them, because they’re in more and more places, more and more states, more and more nations.


DONALD TRUMP: And it’s a big problem. And as far as Japan is concerned, I want to help all of our allies, but we are losing billions and billions of dollars. We cannot be the policemen of the world. We cannot protect countries all over the world—

LESTER HOLT: We have just a—

DONALD TRUMP: —where they’re not paying us what we need.

LESTER HOLT: We have just a few final questions.

DONALD TRUMP: And she doesn’t say that, because she’s got no business ability. We need heart. We need a lot of things. But you have to have some basic ability. And sadly, she doesn’t have that. All of the things that she’s talking about could have been taken care of during the last 10 years, let’s say, while she had great power. But they weren’t taken care of. And if she ever wins this race, they won’t be taken care of.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, this year Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major party. Earlier this month, you said she doesn’t have, quote, “a presidential look.” She’s standing here right now. What did you mean by that?

DONALD TRUMP: She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.

LESTER HOLT: The quote was: “I just don’t think she has the presidential look.”

DONALD TRUMP: You have—wait a—wait a minute, Lester. You asked me a question. Did you ask me a question?

You have to be able to negotiate our trade deals. You have to be able to negotiate—that’s right—with Japan, with Saudi Arabia. I mean, can you imagine, we’re defending Saudi Arabia? And with all of the money they have, we’re defending them, and they’re not paying? All you have to do is speak to them. Wait. You have so many different things you have to be able to do, and I don’t believe that Hillary has the stamina.

LESTER HOLT: Let’s let her respond.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, 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.

DONALD TRUMP: The world—let me tell you. Let me tell you. Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience. We have made so many bad deals during the last—so she’s got experience, that I agree. But it’s bad, bad experience. Whether it’s the Iran deal that you’re so in love with, where we gave them $150 billion back—whether it’s the Iran deal, whether it’s anything you can—you almost can’t name a good deal. I agree. She’s got experience, but it’s bad experience. And this country can’t afford to have another four years of that kind of experience.

LESTER HOLT: We are at the—we are at the final question.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, one thing. One thing, Lester, is—

LESTER HOLT: Very quickly, because we’re at the final question now.

HILLARY CLINTON: —you know, he tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said—

DONALD TRUMP: I never said that.

HILLARY CLINTON: —women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.

DONALD TRUMP: Didn’t say that.

HILLARY CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. 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 Latina. Donald, she has a name.

DONALD TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?

HILLARY CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.

DONALD TRUMP: Where did you find this?

HILLARY CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet—

DONALD TRUMP: Oh, really?

HILLARY CLINTON: —she’s going to vote this November.

DONALD TRUMP: OK. OK, good. Let me just tell you. Let me just tell you.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, could we just take 10 seconds, and then we’re going to have the final question?

DONALD TRUMP: You know, Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it’s said in entertainment. Some of it’s said—somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her. But you want to know the truth? I was going to say something—

LESTER HOLT: Please, very quickly.

DONALD TRUMP: —extremely rough to Hillary, to her family. And I said to myself, “I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice.” But she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. They’re untrue, and they’re misrepresentations. And I will tell you this, Lester: It’s not nice. And I don’t—I don’t deserve that. But it’s certainly not a nice thing that she’s done. It’s hundreds of millions of ads. And the only gratifying thing is I saw the polls come in today, and with all of that money—

LESTER HOLT: We have to move on to the final question.

DONALD TRUMP: —over $200 million is spent, and I’m either winning or tied. And I’ve spent practically nothing.

LESTER HOLT: One of you—one of you will not win this election. So my final question to you tonight: Are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voters? Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I support our democracy. And sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But I certainly will support the outcome of this election. And I know Donald’s trying very hard to plant doubts about it, but I hope the people out there understand: This election’s really up to you. It’s not about us so much as it is about you and your families and the kind of country and future you want. So I sure hope you will get out and vote as though your future depended on it, because I think it does.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, very quickly, the same question: Will you accept the outcome as the will of the voters?

DONALD TRUMP: I want to make America great again. We are a nation that is seriously troubled. We’re losing our jobs. People are pouring into our country. The other day, we were deporting 800 people. And perhaps they passed the wrong button—they pressed the wrong button, or perhaps, worse than that, it was corruption. But these people that we were going to deport, for good reason, ended up becoming citizens. Ended up becoming citizens. And it was 800. And now it turns out it might be 1,800, and they don’t even know.

LESTER HOLT: Will you accept the outcome of the election?

DONALD TRUMP: Look, here’s the story. I want to make America great again. I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary will. The answer is: If she wins, I will absolutely support her.

LESTER HOLT: All right. Well, that is going to do it for us. That concludes our debate for this evening, a spirited one. We covered a lot of ground, not everything, as I suspected we wouldn’t—would. The next presidential debates are scheduled for October 9th at Washington University in St. Louis and October 19th at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The conversation will continue. A reminder: The vice-presidential debate is scheduled for October 4th at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. My thanks to Hillary Clinton and to Donald Trump, and to Hofstra University for hosting us tonight. Good night, everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: And that does it, the first presidential debate of the 2016 race, Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, round one. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Tonight’s debate, as you heard, took place at Hofstra University on Long Island. It was moderated by NBC News’s Lester Holt. Third-party candidates, including Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, were excluded under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties.

Just before we began the special tonight, just before 8:30 in the evening Eastern [Daylight] Time, police arrested 17 activists at Hofstra who were protesting the exclusion of the third-party candidates from the debate. Earlier in the day, Green Party candidate Jill Stein was stopped by Hofstra security and Nassau County police and escorted off the campus, even though she was on her way to do an interview with MSNBC.

Well, Jill Stein will be joining us tomorrow morning here in our studio in New York City for a two-hour “Expanding the Debate” special. We will re-air tonight’s debate between Clinton and Trump and give Stein a chance to respond to the same questions at her own podium. We’ll—we did invite Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, but he said he wouldn’t be able to make it.

But now, for the next 50 minutes, we’re going to talk more about tonight’s debate. We are joined now by six guests. Eddie Glaude is still with us, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, author of the new book Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. Allan Nairn is with us, as well, longtime award-winning investigative journalist and activist. Ramzi Kassem is a professor of law at the City University of New York School of Law, an attorney for many men held at Guantánamo. He’s been to Guantánamo more than 50 times. He’s also head of the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights clinic at CUNY Law School, as well as CLEAR, which is a clinic called Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility. Arlie Russell Hochschild has just joined us at the table here in New York. She is author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning in the American Right, brand-new book. Joining us from Seattle is the Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. And with us in Tucson, Arizona, still, from right there on the border with Mexico, immigrant rights attorney Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Coalition for Human Rights.

We welcome you all to the table. Well, why don’t we go to one of our new guests? Kshama Sawant, you’ve been listening to this whole debate. What’s your response?

KSHAMA SAWANT: I thought a number of important points were made, and I’m happy to see that some of the real issues were discussed about living standards, but very, very minimally. And I am also glad that Trump was defeated on some of the important points. And I actually believe that it would be best for our nation if Trump is trounced in the election, and I’m hoping that that happens.

But I think the most important point that is missing from tonight’s—was missing from tonight’s debate is exactly what you said, Amy, which is that the voices that are speaking to the majority of the population today, the America that is left out of these debates, the America that is especially crying out for a real change away from corporate politics, that voice was entirely missing. You mentioned Jill Stein was not allowed in the debates. Not only that, but several of the protesters outside were arrested. So we’re seeing that a lot of what you hear, a lot of what 100 million viewers listened to and watched, was a very, very controlled debate between the Republican Party establishment and the Democratic Party establishment.

And what we are seeing is two candidates who—admittedly, there is a fundamental difference between Trump and Clinton. And I am as horrified as any other progressive in this nation by Trump’s agenda. The fact that he emphasized the stop-and-frisk policy is just stomach-turning to me. But at the end of the day, what we’re seeing is two of the least popular candidates in the history of presidential—recent presidential debates being confronted with each other, when the real issues are completely off the table. And that is why I think we have to remember that at the end of the day, you know, we are going to be pushed into this discussion between Trump and Clinton for the next several weeks, the next six weeks, and the real questions are: How are we going to build the left in America? How are we going to not only defeat Trump, but the right-wing agenda? How are we going to make sure that the wealthiest country in the history of humanity can be such that it actually works for the enormous numbers of working people?

And Tulsa and Charlotte were mentioned today, but no real answers as to how the question of racist policing and the fact that many of the cities in which this racism and police violence is taking place are either Republican mayors or Democratic mayors, and there’s no real answer as to how an actual civilian oversight to policing will be achieved. So I think that if we are going to have a real discussion of what America needs, that is what we want to talk about.

And I would also mention, you know, there is such—you know, despite the fact that there is a potential for the first woman president to be elected in the history of the United States, less than half of women voters say that they’re excited about Clinton’s campaign. And what we are seeing is that no more than 12 percent of likely voters who are going to vote for Clinton are excited about the prospect of her winning, and no more than 11 percent of the voters who say they’re going to vote for Trump are excited about his candidacy, so—and his potential victory.

So what we’re seeing is that despite very clear differences between Clinton and Trump, the real question is: How are we going to build the left? And how are we going to pose a challenge to both the Democratic and Republican Party establishments, which ultimately serve the agenda of Wall Street? How are we going to really talk about living-wage jobs for a majority of the population?

And, you know, Trump talked about NAFTA. But we have to make sure we understand. This is a multibillionaire. The points about NAFTA are absolutely right. They did decimate jobs in the heartland of America. But we have to be clear: This is a disingenuous and obfuscating argument made by Trump, because neither Clinton nor Trump offer an answer to the Wall Street-dominated and corporate-dominated agenda of the TPP. And so, if labor, the labor movement, really wants to fight it, then we need to bring forward a left alternative. And that is why without talking about Jill Stein’s candidacy and the potential for her to win a serious number of votes, so that we can use that to build a basis for an independent party for the 99 percent, this debate is sorely incomplete.

AMY GOODMAN: You talked about how this plays out in the heartland of this country. We’re also joined at the table by Arlie Russell Hochschild, who is author of Strangers in Their Own Land. You have spent years now. Talk about where you’ve traveled and what you think Donald Trump was appealing to tonight, and if you think he succeeded in doing what he set out to do.

ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD: Great question, Amy. You know, I’ve spent the last five years in the hinterlands of Louisiana, which is the super South, and that’s where the right has grown the most. I’ve been among whites. That’s where the right has grown the most. Older whites and evangelical Christians, that’s where the right has been the most. I’ve tried to go to the heartland of a way of thinking, turn, actually, my political alarm system off and really try and listen and climb an empathy wall to see what—how does this make sense, this different worldview, different to me?

And I listened to Donald Trump tonight with an ear to the appeal that he is making, and it’s very different from the appeal that Hillary is making, completely different. He’s appealing to a sense of loss, of a discouragement. America is in shambles. Our infrastructure is destroyed. We’re being humiliated by the Chinese. So, a down. It’s like a preacher. We are so lost and so down, but I will lift you up. It’s like a secular rapture. And that is, I think, a very deep, important appeal, to being shamed. You know, we have been shamed by others, and I will proudly stand forward with my masculine virtues. And I think he’s the outsider. He’s appealing to being not good—not having the skill set. His skill set is the one—is appealed. I could hear, actually, checking off certain appeals. Yes, we want an outsider. We don’t care if he doesn’t know how to do what Hillary knows how to do. He knows how to do what he has to do. And the rich will lift us up. There is a belief that the rich are the givers, and the poor are the takers, that the private sector is the giver, and the government is the taker. It’s a reversal of assumptions progressives make. So there was an appeal to that, and even appeal to being a victim, like, you know, the media is on her side. So I think that was the character of his covert appeal. And Hillary, you know, is appealing to being the grown-up, the responsible one, who, you know, in a pinch could really solve the problems. And that is a very different kind of appeal.

AMY GOODMAN: According to ABC News, the highest moment of the debate, the top social moment on Facebook, was when Donald Trump said, “I have much better judgment than she does. I also have much better temperament.” Well, rather than me say it, why don’t we go to Donald Trump saying it?

LESTER HOLT: My question was—

DONALD TRUMP: No, no. You didn’t hear what I said.

LESTER HOLT: —why is your judgment—why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s judgment?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know? I have a much better—she spent—let me tell you—she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising—you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room, they put names—oh, temperament, let’s go after—I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not know how to win.

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

DONALD TRUMP: Wait. The AF-of-L-CIO, the other day, behind the blue screen, I don’t know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you was totally out of control. I said, “There’s a person with a temperament that’s got a problem.”

LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?


AMY GOODMAN: So, there you have the top social moment. Arlie, what did he say to you?

ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD: He said, “I’m in command, and she’s just a woman with a flighty personality.” There is a lot of gender story in this, for him to talk about her looks. She had the wrong look. She’s too short. She’s—you know, doesn’t look like a man. And here she’s had—

AMY GOODMAN: Or have the stamina.

ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD: Or have the stamina, yeah. So, he’s—and he did that with her health thing: “Oh, well, she’s frail, can’t take it.” So he’s—that’s what he’s doing here. He’s claiming a male temperament.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the NAFTA clip, and this one begins with Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON: I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that help to create more new jobs.

LESTER HOLT: Very quickly—

DONALD TRUMP: But you haven’t done it in 30 years or 26 years, any number you want to—

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve been a senator, Donald.

DONALD TRUMP: You haven’t done it. You haven’t done it.

HILLARY CLINTON: And I have been a secretary of state.

DONALD TRUMP: And excuse me.

HILLARY CLINTON: And I have done a lot—

DONALD TRUMP: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that’s your opinion. That is your opinion.

DONALD TRUMP: You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacture is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.

And now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it. Then you heard what I was saying, how bad it is, and you said, “I can’t win that debate.” But you know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that—that is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about that in—

DONALD TRUMP: You called it the gold standard.

HILLARY CLINTON: I wrote about—well, I hope—I—

DONALD TRUMP: You called it the gold standard of trade deals.

HILLARY CLINTON: And you know what?

DONALD TRUMP: You said it’s the finest deal you’ve ever seen.


DONALD TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden you were against it.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality—


HILLARY CLINTON: —but that is not the facts. The facts are, I did say I hoped it would be a good deal, but when it was negotiated—


HILLARY CLINTON: —which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn’t. I wrote about that in my book—

DONALD TRUMP: So is it President Obama’s fault?

HILLARY CLINTON: —before you even announced.

DONALD TRUMP: Is it President Obama’s fault?

HILLARY CLINTON: Look, there are different—there—

DONALD TRUMP: Secretary, is it President Obama’s fault?

HILLARY CLINTON: There are different—

DONALD TRUMP: Because he’s pushing it.

HILLARY CLINTON: There are different views about what’s good for our country, our economy and our leadership in the world. And I think it’s important to look at what we need to do to get the economy going again. That’s why I said new jobs with rising incomes, investments, not in more tax cuts that would add $5 trillion to the debt—

DONALD TRUMP: But you have no plan.

HILLARY CLINTON: —but in—oh, I do. In fact, I have written—

DONALD TRUMP: Secretary, you have no plan.

AMY GOODMAN: So, there you have the discussion of NAFTA. Allan Nairn, who do you think won the debate overall, and this point?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, on this point, Bernie Sanders would have crushed Trump on trade. He would have crushed him overall. You know, Trump is appealing to the worst instincts of whites, luring them on racism. But that’s not the be-all and end-all. Sanders had an economic program that could, in significant part, overcome that. Clinton doesn’t have that. In this case, I think Trump crushed her on trade. Clinton was basically making the argument there of a Romney Republican. She was refusing to repudiate NAFTA. She was refuting—refusing to fault Obama on TPP. Later, she said, “Me, too,” on cutting—on cutting regulations. It’s pathetic. She’s letting the nation down, because she’s opening the door to this fascist.

I think—you know, if the viewers noticed, toward the end there, Trump started talking about Rosie O’Donnell. He started saying Rosie O’Donnell deserved it. And this actually gets to something extremely important and dangerous about Trump. A lot of people think, “Well, he’s not that dangerous, because he’s ridiculous.” It’s just the opposite. I’ve spent many, many years confronting, dealing with, fighting against fascist mass murderers who were supported by the U.S. government in many countries around the world, people like Salvador Alarcón in—Sandoval Alarcón in Guatemala, D’Aubuisson in El Salvador, Ríos Montt in Guatemala, Prabowo in Indonesia. And among them, these guys kill hundreds of thousands of people. So, on a certain level, it’s unfair to compare them to Trump, because Trump is a lightweight by comparison. But one thing about a lot of these fascist types is that they had trouble getting popular support, because they were so scary, because they were such frightening figures. I mean, when I talked to them, you could see it in their eyes, and people could see it in their eyes. Few of them could stand up and hope to win an actual election. But some of them have the gift of, in addition to the authoritarianism and the willingness to kill en masse, the gift of being a clown, of being ridiculous. Someone like Duterte in the Philippines has that. He just won on a death squad platform. He promised mass death squad killings across the country. He won overwhelmingly. He’s carrying it out. He’s already killed thousands. And he has a very high approval rating.

Trump seems so ridiculous that people kind of say, “Well, you know, what harm could he do?” That was—you know, not to go too far with the comparison, but that was a factor with Hitler. That was one reason why before—until it was too late, Hitler was not taken seriously as a threat, notably by many on the left in Germany, who failed to stand up to him early enough. And he also lulled in many in the establishment, many among the rich and the military, who thought, well, they could manage him; you know, the establishment will prevail in the end. Trump’s clownishness is, in a way, a strength, because it diverts attention from the noxious things he’s talking about. I mean, for example, just a—they were talking about the New York bombing the other day. Under the proposal that Trump has put on the table, that man’s family would all be executed, because he’s called for the execution of terrorists. Also, if you took him seriously—and Trump always get the break of people not taking him seriously—Clinton and Obama would also be executed, because, he said, they’re the founders of ISIS. And it’s the U.S. policy, Obama policy, to drone ISIS people and any others the U.S. suspects, and many people who they don’t even know who they are, but they’re young men of military age, kill them from the sky. Trump is talking about dangerous things, but he skates, because a lot of people say, “Well, that’s Trump. It’s funny.”

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Glaude, can you follow up on the point about NAFTA and the economic populism? And then we’re going to move on to stop-and-frisk.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Sure. You know, I think—I think what we saw in this debate is a clear difference between Trump and Hillary Clinton. But it wasn’t a difference that called into question the fundamentals of a certain neoliberal economic philosophy. There was one moment when Clinton said she wants to support strong growth, fair growth and sustained growth. She wants broad-based, inclusive growth. A kind of economism was at the heart of her imagining—right?—of our current state of affairs and how she would intervene, right? So, no real fundamental challenge to the frame. And one of the things that we’ve heard—a glaring absence in the debate was any mention of the working poor, any mention of poverty, any mention of working people. Right? “We want to lift the middle class,” rhetoric we’ve heard for a long time. So, on the one hand, we want to say—we want to say very clearly that, I think, the choice is stark: Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is running a campaign—let’s call it a campaign of a scoundrel. And to the extent to which we can call it that, when he acts like a scoundrel, there’s no surprise, because he’s running a campaign of a scoundrel, right? So he can be attractive as such. And you can call him a scoundrel, a clown or however you want. But what’s interesting about Hillary Clinton is that she put forward a set of positions, particularly around NAFTA. She doubled down on it. She said there were some problems with it. In some ways, she doubled down. She said there were some unintended consequences around the position around the war on drugs, around the expansion of the carceral state under the Clinton administration. Right?

ALLAN NAIRN: She weakened on TPP from her previous stand.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Right, she weakened on—so, what we saw very clearly is—well, let me say it this way: I don’t know at what moment did she appeal to the progressive left in the debate. Now, it’s clear that those of us who are reasonable and rational creatures saw the distinction between Donald Trump, who some moments looked like a lunatic, other moments came unhinged, other moments the neofascist, other moments an adolescent. But I don’t know at—there was at—there was no moment where I saw her trying to appeal to the progressives who supported Bernie or the millennials or even African-American voters.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to their discussion about stop-and-frisk, beginning with Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP: We have to bring back law and order. Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop-and-frisk, which worked very well—Mayor Giuliani is here—worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn’t be having it. We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant. We have to be—we have to know what we’re doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime. Decimated.

LESTER HOLT: Your two minutes is—your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.

DONALD TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won on appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.

LESTER HOLT: The argument is that it’s a form of racial profiling.

DONALD TRUMP: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and that are bad people.

HILLARY CLINTON: Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional, and in part because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do.

Now, I believe in community policing. And, in fact, violent crime is one-half of what it was in 1991. Property crime is down 40 percent. We just don’t want to see it creep back up. We’ve had 25 years of very good cooperation.

But there were some problems, some unintended consequences. Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses. And it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated.

So, we’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Eddie Glaude, “unintended consequences”?

EDDIE GLAUDE: It’s just a gross misunderstanding. When we think about the kind of expansion of the carceral state under the Clinton, Bill Clinton’s, administration, when you think about over the million-plus black and brown people who are currently locked up—you know, at the same time, you’ve got all these black people in the big house, while you have a black person in the White House—it seems to me that this is—this is precisely what’s wrong with Hillary Clinton’s outreach to the black community, that she won’t speak forcefully about the state of policing in this country, not only crack cocaine disparities, but the way in which communities are policed. It’s more than just simply community policing. It’s more than simply better police training. It has something to do with misdemeanor decriminalization. It has something to do with stop criminalizing poverty. It has something to do with getting rid of bail for all but violent crimes, decreasing the amount of citizen-police contact, which produces these situations and scenarios where folks are losing their lives.

So, here, she doesn’t speak passionately, right? And what we get, as well, we get this false equivalence. Why can’t Hillary Clinton, in this moment—and again, Donald Trump is clearly someone that’s problematic. We don’t want—focusing on Clinton is not to say that Donald Trump is the choice. But why can’t Hillary Clinton just speak to the circumstances of how black communities are policed? Why is it that she has to say, “On the one hand, here, and then, on the other hand, we have to help police do their jobs”? What is the point of making that kind of move, of balancing the two conversations simultaneously? It’s because she’s not talking to black communities at that moment. She’s still talking to the median white voter that she thinks she has to appeal to.


ARLIE RUSSELL HOCHSCHILD: Yes, curiously, she’s not appealing to poor whites, either. I listened to her from the point of view of, you know, a blue-collar white guy, and he wouldn’t feel heard, either. You know, are you a part of the “basket of deplorables”? You know, she didn’t—she didn’t reach out, you know, to that group, either.

AMY GOODMAN: Ramzi Kassem, this whole issue of stop-and-frisk that he—that Donald Trump wants to extend it to the whole country, and he said that’s not true that a judge ruled that it’s unconstitutional.

RAMZI KASSEM: Yeah, I mean, I’m actually not satisfied with both sides of the debate on this issue. I mean, with Hillary, you know, when she talks about restoring trust, she assumes that trust was there to begin with between, you know, poor African-American communities and the police. And frankly, that’s just historically blind. She’s glossing over the realities of those communities for generations and their relationship with local police forces. And when she talks about unintended consequences in one breath, which seems to minimize the breadth of the problem plaguing this country when it comes to race relations and when it comes to police-community relations, and then, a few seconds later, she talks about systemic racism, I think that sends too mixed a message. It’s not clear exactly what her position is on these issues.

And then, when you pivot to Trump, I mean, there’s no surprise that Trump is always going to be order over justice. But when he says that, you know, we have to bring back law and order, and you sort of contrast that with the reality that Obama’s presidency, you know, empirically speaking, has been safer, by most commonly accepted indicators, than the Clinton presidency, than George W. Bush’s presidency, you know, that really highlights the extent to which Trump is peddling this myth of a crime wave, with no empirical support whatsoever. It’s just fact-free populism.

And when he goes on about stop-and-frisk, it’s more of that same fact-free populism. So, he goes on national television, and he says that there was no finding of unconstitutionality, when the opinion is very clear in that regard. But when it comes to stop-and-frisk, I mean, I think—again, look at New York City, right? Stop-and-frisk was diminished and then suspended in significant respects. It still exists, but not in the same way that it existed under Giuliani, under Commissioner Kelly. The sky has not come crashing down. Crime rates have not soared. But more importantly, look at other cities that have never had stop-and-frisk. At the same time as crime rates were dropping in New York City, crime rates in those cities were dropping, as well, which gives the lie to this notion that somehow stop-and-frisk is what brought crime down.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’re talking about how many people—young Latino, black, mainly men, some young women—arrested—not arrested, stopped and frisked, more often than not, I think more than 90 percent of the time, not actually charged with a crime.

RAMZI KASSEM: Exactly, exactly. The cost of stop-and-frisk in New York City and in other cities that have deployed a similar policy is borne almost exclusively by poor black and Latino communities.

EDDIE GLAUDE: And it’s—at this point, it’s not a dog whistle, it’s a foghorn, because what he’s doing at that moment, he’s talking about the devastation of black communities, trading on a host of stereotypes that circulate in the common conversation about the state of urban cities, and then—and expressing concern, and then immediately following that description, trading in those stereotypes, appealing to law and order, appealing to the policy of stop-and-frisk.

ALLAN NAIRN: He’s stoking fear.

EDDIE GLAUDE: Of course. He’s not talking to black people at that point.

ALLAN NAIRN: And the fear, in turn, ramps up the police violence—

EDDIE GLAUDE: Absolutely.

ALLAN NAIRN: —because there’s this doctrine that’s been adopted by U.S. police forces—

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn.

ALLAN NAIRN: —over the past 20, 30 years, which is very pernicious, very dangerous. And the doctrine says that if you feel you’re under threat—


ALLAN NAIRN: —just subjectively feel you’re under threat, then you can shoot to kill.


ALLAN NAIRN: Now, when you have a society where there’s white racism to begin with, and whites will start off by feeling more fear when facing a black than—


ALLAN NAIRN: —facing a white in the same situation, you have that. Then you have someone like Trump coming along and amping it up even further. Then this doctrine gets extended to the kind of laws for the civilians that enable George Zimmerman to roam the streets with a gun—


ALLAN NAIRN: —and open fire legally if he felt threatened—


ALLAN NAIRN: —because he happened to see a young black man walking.


EDDIE GLAUDE: So, imagine—imagine communities—I know—imagine communities around the country who are overly surveilled and underprotected hearing that the Fraternal Order of Police, over 350,000 cops—

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, endorsed Trump.

EDDIE GLAUDE: —have endorsed Trump, someone who has, in effect—is very explicit that he’s not committed to due process—


EDDIE GLAUDE: —that he’s not committed to the rights of everyday ordinary people.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to bring Isabel Garcia into this conversation. You may not be in our sight right here in New York City, but you’re not out of our heart. In that last clip that we just heard, Isabel—there was not much discussion of immigration, but in that last clip, you have Donald Trump saying, “We have gangs roaming the street, and in many cases they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns, and they shoot people. And we have to be very strong, and we have to be very vigilant. We have to be—we had to know what we’re doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything.” Can you respond to this, from the border there in Tucson?

ISABEL GARCIA: Yes, absolutely. I knew that he would have to make a comment like that, which is based on falsehoods. All the studies that have been done, all the credible studies, document the exact opposite, that it is a lower rate of criminality in the undocumented population versus the native population. Right? So, right away, he’s stoking that fear.

But I want to address this whole issue of racism. And I have to say that it’s not just blaming Clinton and the Democrats or the Republicans. I think we have to blame ourselves. Our community—obviously, you know, I feel a part of the community, and we have allowed Trump to gain traction. A lot of “good” people never wanted to talk about Trump. They didn’t want to talk about underlying issues. You have a congressperson who recently said, “Oh, those blacks are protesting because they’re jealous of us, because they”—those—we have to face that. We have to face the fact that we’ve done a terrible job in this country of teaching our history. And, of course, it’s the first step in any reparation.

And I believe that Secretary Clinton should have talked about that, not only reform within the criminal justice system itself and what it means to, you know, be discriminated against from the very moment, but what about those communities that are devastated? What about Detroit? And what about communities that—where youth have no jobs and no economic opportunities? Those are fundamental to any of these discussions. And I believe that, in a large part, we’re to blame. We’re—obviously, Clinton is not the ideal candidate, and we have to stop Trump. But beyond stopping Trump, we must build a movement that is focused on human rights, that is focused on economic rights, on cultural and racial rights. And we must hopefully win out of here to continue to press our community, because it’s our communities that have to press these politicians to do the right thing. We know that it’s really bottom-up, if we want to, not top-down.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go right now for a minute—we just spent an hour and a half inside Hofstra University hearing this debate between the two major-party candidates, but there was a lot of action outside, as well. And you’re not going to get much of this in the corporate media. But our colleagues Hany Massoud and Deena Guzder were there at Hofstra, and this is what they found outside as they were following the third-party candidate, Jill Stein, who was escorted off the premises by both Hofstra security and the Nassau County police.

DR. JILL STEIN: Tonight is a turning point. We can no longer going forward into the future and allow ourselves to be silenced, to be intimidated and to have our political power ripped from us. So we say it’s time to reject the lesser evil and to fight for the greater good. And we will go forward knowing that we do have the power to create an America and a world that works for all of us. And the power to create that world is not just in our hopes. It’s not just in our dreams. Right here and now, outside the barred gates of Hofstra University, that power is in our hands.

PROTESTERS: Let her in! Let her in! Let her in! Let her in!

DEENA GUZDER: Jill, Jill, it’s Democracy Now! We just want to get at this. What happened today? What happened today? This is Democracy Now! What happened today?

DR. JILL STEIN: So, today we had—we were invited to speak to the media, and we had had several interviews. We were at Fox. We were at CBS. And we were on our way to an MSNBC interview. Because the students—

HANDLER: Jill, Jill, get in the car now. Jill, you have to get in the car now.

DR. JILL STEIN: —were so excited about our presence—

HANDLER: Jill, you have to get in the car now.

DR. JILL STEIN: —they attracted the attention of security.

HANDLER: Jill. Thank you. All right, thank you.

DR. JILL STEIN: And we were escorted off of the campus.

DEENA GUZDER: Thank you.

CHERI HONKALA: We’re going to go inside, and I’m going to ask if they will open the debates. All right? [echoed by the People’s Mic] We have a right to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience.

POLICE OFFICER 1: Currently, right now, you’re blocking traffic allowing people to come in and out of the parking lot.


POLICE OFFICER 1: We are asking you to please move to the sidewalk.

CHERI HONKALA: We are going to have a seat, and we’re going to wait for them to bring us somebody from the Commission on Presidential Debates. Have a seat.

CARLOS JESUS CALZADILLA: My name is Carlos Jesus Calzadilla, and right now we’re demanding Jill Stein to get into the debates, because this is supposed to be a democracy. We’re supposed to have dialogue amongst many people, not just two. And the commission on debates is controlled by the Republicans and the Democrats. We are demanding right now an America, where supposedly we have freedom of speech, to open the debates and let Jill Stein and Gary Johnson participate in them.

POLICE OFFICER 2: Ladies and gentlemen, you are obstructing vehicular traffic. If you refuse to move, you are subject to arrest.

BENNETT WEISS: Bennett Weiss. We’re blocking the road, because we want an open debate. They want an open road, which will affect a few handful of vehicles. We want an open debate that will affect the entire world. We either move, or we get arrested. I am prepared to get arrested.

POLICE OFFICER 3: Can you turn around please?

DEENA GUZDER: Can you narrate what’s happening, Cheri Honkala?

CHERI HONKALA: I’m going to jail for trying to make sure that—

DEENA GUZDER: Narrate exactly what’s happening.

CHERI HONKALA: I’m having handcuffs put on right now and going to jail because I believe everybody should be a part of the presidential debates.

POLICE OFFICER 3: Turn around. Turn around.

ROBIN LAVERNE WILSON: My name is Robin Laverne Wilson. I am the Green Party candidate for senator of New York state. And I’m here because this is what my ancestors did for me to have the right to vote and the access to the ballot. And the debates is just as important as access to the polls.

DEENA GUZDER: What’s your name?

HEATHER GRAHAM: My name is Heather Graham, and I’m here with Occupy the Debates so that everyone in the—

POLICE OFFICER 4: You’ve got to back up.

HEATHER GRAHAM: The American people have a right—thank you. The American people have a right to know who they can vote for. We have a right!

DEENA GUZDER: What’s your name? Who are you with?

YAHNE NDGO: I’m YahNe Ndgo. I’m a surrogate of Jill Stein.

DEENA GUZDER: But what’s happening right now?

YAHNE NDGO: I’m being handcuffed because I’m standing up for all of our children, including your children, including the children of these men who are arresting me.

POLICE OFFICER 5: Just turn around and walk this way, please, Miss? Thank you.

CAROL CUTLER: My name is Carol Cutler.

DEENA GUZDER: What’s happening right now?

CAROL CUTLER: I’m getting the bracelets.

DEENA GUZDER: Why do you feel so strongly you’re willing to get arrested?

CAROL CUTLER: Because everything else has failed, so some people have to stand up and say we’re not taking this anymore.

POLICE OFFICER 6: Come on, ma’am.

BERNARDINE ZENI: Yeah, Bernardine Zeni [phon.].

DEENA GUZDER: And what’s happening right now?

BERNARDINE ZENI: Well, I’m being arrested.


BERNARDINE ZENI: Well, because they say we’re blocking, you know, but the traffic’s already blocked. They’re blocking the traffic. We’re just sitting down in the road.

DEENA GUZDER: Why are you sitting in the road?

BERNARDINE ZENI: Well, because we’re here for Jill Stein. We want her to get on the debates. We think that—we think we’re just doing this so—Chris Hedges says the last thing we have is our bodies, so I’m putting my body.

AMY GOODMAN: Special thanks to Democracy Now!'s Deena Guzder and Hany Massoud for that report outside Hofstra. It looks like about two dozen people got arrested. They were led by the former vice-presidential Green Party candidate, Cheri Honkala. Jill Stein and her running mate today, Ajamu Baraka, did not get arrested. And Jill Stein will be in our studio tomorrow morning to expand the debate. She will have a podium here at Democracy Now! We will play excerpts of the debate, and after Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are asked to respond to Lester Holt's question, we will stop the tape and have Jill Stein respond. We had invited Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, but he is not participating this time. We’ll be doing this for all the debates.

But I did want to bring in Kshama Sawant, who is in the Seattle studio, about the involvement of third-party candidates. And I wanted to ask you—we had a discussion before you came on, in the predebate segment, about whether you feel, in swing states, people should vote for—well, you’re supporting Jill Stein—across the board, or do you think there should be strategic voting?

KSHAMA SAWANT: When Socialist Alternative and I launched Movement for Bernie, through which we supported Bernie Sanders’s campaign until the Democratic Party establishment made sure that he was eliminated from the race, what we said was that we understand that if people want to make sure that Trump is not elected, by using a safe state strategy or, you know—or, in other ways, to call it a swing state strategy, we totally understand.

And I think that while talking about that, we have to open up our discussion on the left to the larger and more fundamentally important and long-lasting question of: How are we going to build the left as an alternative to both the corporate politics of the Democratic Party and the hateful, right-wing, bigoted agenda of Trump? And as some of your guests have stated, we’re not only worried about Trump and what he himself can—the kind of havoc he can wreak if he was to be elected president, but the kind of currency, the kind of echo it would give to the real right-wing elements in America, at a time, ironically, when the vast majority of working people, and especially young people, millennials, are moving well to the left, and they have made it clear which direction they’re moving by the enormous, historic support that Bernie Sanders got.

And I’m really glad that you, as an alternative to corporate media, are bringing in the voice of Jill Stein, because all the people who spoke, the ones who are getting arrested, because force is being used against them, because they’re demanding a fair voice in the debate, all of this is showing that it’s really a question of mass movements. I mean, we talked about stop-and-frisk. We talked about how horrifying it is that the Fraternal Order of Police supported Trump. But at the end of the day, who is showing the leadership on the question of racial profiling by the police? Who is showing the leadership and questioning police violence? It is not the Democratic Party establishment. It’s certainly not the Republican establishment. But it is young people on the ground. It’s the Black Lives Matter movement, that took off really in a big way after what happened in Ferguson, that is calling America’s attention on the brutal violence unleashed against black and brown people, especially young people. Who called out inequality in America? It was the Occupy movement.

And as far as third-party candidates are concerned, Amy, I think we can’t talk about that without also talking about what happened in Seattle, because we’re often told, “You know, presidential elections are off-limits. We can’t talk about third-party politics there, because we have to play it safe. Let’s do local.” Well, look at what happens in local races. I won the election as a Socialist because I did not run in the Democratic Party establishment. If I had run as a Democrat, as Bernie did, I would have been defeated, because the Democratic Party establishment, while it definitely wants to defeat the right-wing agenda—I believe that they want to defeat Trump—their bigger priority is to defeat a working people’s agenda.

And we also have to make sure that our mass movements, while not, you know, giving up an artificial pause in the election year, we also make sure the direction that we’re going in—I should mention, you know, some of the biggest movements that are rising, surprisingly in a presidential year, is through the stop the Dakota Access pipeline. It is, you know, a historic protest, a historic movement, where tens of thousands of tribal leaders and tribal members have gone. This is the largest collection of tribal, you know, movement against the pipeline. And we are seeing young people and grassroots people showing leadership on this. And what have we seen from the Democratic Party? It was not—it was not Hillary Clinton who went there at the risk of being arrested. It was Jill Stein who went there, and it was ordinary people who went there.

And that is the kind of leadership we’re talking about, but that is only possible if mass movements not only energize themselves independent of the Democratic and Republican establishments, but also understand that giving an artificial stop or a pause to our movements in presidential years, because we’re not supposed to talk about this, and buying into the logic of lesser-evilism, which I know is uppermost in the minds of many of your listeners, we—what we see through history is that, by that logic of lesser-evilism, there will never be a good time to build the left. And I would argue exactly the opposite, that there has never been as good a time as today to really ferociously, with determination, build the left as an alternative to both the Republicans and the Democrats—

AMY GOODMAN: And, Kshama Sawant, I—

KSHAMA SAWANT: —because you only have to look at what people are saying around us.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to say, just in the number of people who are tweeting and writing on Facebook, there is a tremendous concern about what’s happening in North Dakota with the Dakota Access pipeline, and we just learned that in this last few days that the standoff that we filmed on Labor Day weekend, where Native Americans went to an area where the Dakota Access pipeline was excavating, that that property that they were protesting has just been sold directly to the Dakota Access pipeline. But, Allan Nairn, you wanted to weigh in on this issue of movements, as we begin to wrap up this discussion. We have just under five minutes.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, yeah. You have to attack the corporate powers, the rich and the mass murderers, both from within, within the Democratic Party, which may be possible to take over—I wouldn’t have thought that before, but Sanders’ success suggests that might be possible—and also from without simultaneously. But if at this moment you let Trump into the White House, if you let Trump slip in by voting third party in a swing state, and therefore, by a handful of votes, hand that state to Trump, you could be rolling things back by decades. By decades. You put the—you flip the switch, which up to now has blocked the Paul Ryan-Koch brothers agenda from passing through the Congress, because Trump will be there to support it. You put new Scalias on the court as a new majority to set that—to set that agenda in stone. You know, parenthetically, Trump said in the debates that he did not want to cut Social Security, but there are all sorts of reports that when he privately met Paul Ryan, he promised Ryan that he would cut Social Security.

The councilmember made a very important point about how fundamentally there’s every reason to think we’re entering an era where fundamental progressive change is possible. Why? Because the working and middle classes have collapsed, and that has to reverberate. There’s no way it won’t. And the rise this year simultaneously of Trump and Sanders, indicating that it’s—that those waves are finally reaching the shore, so there’s really kind of a—for the medium term and the long term, there’s tremendous opportunity.

But if you let the white supremacists, the neofascists sneak in, this can set back the entire clock, not to mention costing the lives of additional millions of people. As we mentioned before, whether it’s Clinton, whether it’s Trump, the U.S. policy of supporting mass murder overseas will win, because they both support that. But it’s partially a question of how many murders. With Trump, you get both the continuation of the killing bureaucracy that Clinton comes out of, but you also get the added element of the Cheney, Rumsfeld, Curtis LeMay-style gambling and recklessness. You know, Trump came out and demanded that the Chinese disappear Kim Jong-un, the nuclear-armed dictator of North Korea. Trump is calling for sending more U.S. forces off the coast of China to confront the Chinese military on the issue of the South China Sea. Trump has talked about nuclear weapons for Saudi Arabia and Japan and South Korea. We’re talking about even more death with a Trump, and, maybe most uniquely, we’re talking about unleashing the beast in white America, if Trump is handed this victory.

AMY GOODMAN: Ramzi Kassem, as we wrap up, you have the last comment right now.

RAMZI KASSEM: Well, I mean, I think the Supreme Court does hang in the balance. The next president is going to nominate not just Scalia’s replacement, after he passed away, but potentially three additional Supreme Court justices. Now, that’s four justices, given the fact that Justice Ginsburg might retire, Justice Breyer might retire, Justice Kennedy might retire—four justices. The last president who’s done that in their first term is President Nixon. And so, that will shape the American jurisprudence for a generation to come, if not two, depending on how young those nominated justices are. And that is important to a number of issues in our country, ranging from abortion to education to, you know, election finance reform.

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