Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump trade charges in US presidential debate

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Hillary_ClintonUS presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sparred during the general-election presidential debate held on September 26 evening.

Clinton began by accusing Trump of pushing “racist lie” that President Obama was not born in the US. “It cannot be dismissed that easily. There’s no evidence for it. But he persisted year after year,” said Clinton. “Trump has a long record of engaging in racist behaviour.”

On his part, Trump accused Clinton of lacking “stamina” to be president. “She doesn’t have the stamina,” said Trump, when Lester Holt, the moderator, asked him about a past comment that Clinton lacked stamina for the presidency. Clinton replied, “I went to 112 countries as secretary of state, and negotiated trade deals, and if Trump did that he can talk to me about stamina.” She also noted Trump called women pigs, slobs and dogs.

When Clinton went on the debate stage, she goaded the Republican nominee and quoted Trump’s own words. Trump took the bait, repeatedly interrupting angrily or dismissively throughout the night. He couldn’t resist attacks, even when it was obvious they would backfire. When Holt grilled Trump about his refusal to release tax returns before she delivered her assessment of Trump’s insistence that a “routine audit” be completed first.

She flayed Trump for saying that US Navy ships should open fire on Iranian boats that had taunted them in the Persian Gulf. Using a familiar line from his campaign, she said, “His attitude about nuclear weapons is so deeply troubling.. . .A man who can be provoked by a tweet shouldn’t have anything to do with the nuclear codes.”

Trump flayed Clinton for supporting President Obama’s foreign policy and criticised her for signing the nuclear deal with Iran, which, he said, had empowered Iran to become a major power. “This way we lose on everything,” he said.

Criticising the NATO military alliance during the first presidential debate of the general election campaign, Trump said many of the 28 nations in NATO aren’t paying US a fair share for their defense. When he commented in the same vein earlier, Trump was shouted down.

“I didn’t support the Iraq war. “Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.” Holt said, “The record doesn’t show that.”

While this was so, there was one point on which they agreed. Trump tells Clinton, “I agree with you” when it came to not allowing people “on a watch list or a no-fly list” from buying guns.  He Clinton added “If you’re dangerous to fly, you’re dangerous to buy a gun.”

Meanwhile, cyber-attacks on Democratic National Committee that revealed internal emails embarrassed Democrat Hillary Clinton and her supporters. “Russia broke into the DNC,” Trump said. Trump too has frequently been accused of being friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finally, the duo argued over the Iraq War, and over who was responsible for the Islamic State’s rise. Blaming President Obama, Trump said the US withdrew troops, too quickly, without taking the sting from IS strongholds in Iraq and Syria and the IS affiliates in Libya.