Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump participated in a heated debate on Monday, Sep. 26, 2016. The debate saw many accusations thrown by both candidates as well as blame placed. The debate, which took place in New York, was the most watched televised debate in history with well over 100 million viewers from around the world. Going into the debate, the polls were neck and neck, adding even more tension to an already strenuous relationship between Trump and Clinton.
The debate began with Trump accusing Clinton of helping create Isis to which Clinton responded, “I have a feeling that by the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened,” a comment that made the rather silent audience laugh. With such a bombastic opening to the debate it was obvious how the rest of the night would go. As the debate went on, Clinton began to target Trump’s tax history, suggesting that the reason he has not disclosed his tax returns is that Trump is hiding something from the American people; she accused him of not paying any federal income taxes for the past eighteen years to which he responded by saying, “it’s because [he] was smart”. Trump later tried to put his tax history rumors to rest by saying he is currently under a “routine audit”.
The second half of the debate was dominated by foreign policy and the so-called ‘Birther Movement”, an idea propagated by Donald Trump between 2012 and 2015 that accused President Obama of not being a natural-born American citizen. Clinton argued that Trump’s assertion that President Obama was born in Kenya was a “very hurtful lie” that was “an attempt to delegitimize the first African American President of the United States”. Trump attempted to push the issue aside by saying that he wanted to “focus on bigger issues” such as the war in Syria and Russian aggression. Trump began to question Clinton about her role in the war in Syria and the destabilization that he claimed took place during her tenure as Secretary of State, at one point saying, “[Secretary Clinton has] been fighting Isis [her] entire adult life.” Clinton fired back, accusing Trump of being too friendly towards the Russians and saying that he has an affinity for despots.
The entire night was full of interruptions and many snide remarks from both Clinton and Trump. Moderator Lester Holt attempted to stay true to the debate guidelines and struggled to keep the candidates on course without interjecting his own opinions. As to who won the debate, most polls showed Clinton as the winner but there were some that declared Trump the winner. In the end, it will be the American people who decide.