Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sparred over trade, taxes and the economy at the opening of their first presidential debate Monday.
The Democratic nominee ripped Trump over his tax plan, which she said would “blow up the debt” while mainly benefiting the wealthy.
“I call it trumped-up trickle down” economics, she said. “That is not how we grow the economy.”
Trump, meanwhile, described Clinton as late-to-the-game when it comes to scrutinizing American trade deals.
“Secretary Clinton and others … should have been doing this for years, not right now,” he said.
He said he wanted to keep jobs and business in the United States by threatening to tax companies that move jobs outside the U.S. He told Clinton pointedly, “You’ve been doing this for 30 years. … “I will bring back jobs. You can’t bring back jobs.”
The debate is being held at Hofstra University, moderated by Lester Holt.
The presidential debate, six weeks before Election Day, is the first of three in the final stretch of the campaign. The general election foes’ first face-off comes as polling consistently shows a tightening race, in national surveys as well as in the battlegrounds that will decide the election.
This has put even more pressure on the candidates to turn in a stellar performance Monday night, and seize the advantage going into October. Polls show both candidates are viewed negatively by sizeable swaths of the electorate – but Clinton faces the primary task of settling questions about her honesty while Trump faces the task of proving to voters he’s ready for the nation’s highest office.
While Trump has assailed Clinton throughout the campaign as dishonest, the Clinton campaign increasingly has pushed a narrative that Trump is temperamentally unfit to lead. The former secretary of state has enjoyed some help from influential voices in the media establishment, with The New York Times and Washington Post both publishing editorials Monday morning echoing that theme.
But Trump has dismissed such critiques, maintaining the public confidence heading into Hofstra that he exuded throughout the Republican primaries – during which the first-time candidate and debater vanquished 16 foes and dominated the stage over the roughly dozen early-season debates.
That record rendered him a rival not to be underestimated by the Clinton camp, which spent days preparing the Democratic nominee in study and mock-debate sessions even while Trump was out campaigning last week.