Debate takeaways: Clinton gets under Trump's skin

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Donald Trump clashed with Hillary Clinton during Monday's first presidential debate, interrupting her and appearing agitated at times as they tangled over the economy, her use of a private mail server and his unwillingness to release his income-tax returns.

Clinton maintained an even demeanor, smiling indulgently when Trump turned aggressive.

Clinton and Trump engaged in a back-and-forth on the debate stage at Hofstra University as polls showed them locked in a tight race.

Here are the top takeaways from Monday's debate:

Trump's temperament

If Clinton aimed to get under Trump's skin in the first 30 minutes of the debate, the Democratic nominee appeared to succeed. Clinton often put Trump on the defensive, saying he had "rooted for" the collapse of the housing industry and had considered climate change to be a hoax.

In another exchange, Clinton said, "I have a feeling that by the end of this evening I'll be blamed for everything that ever happened."

Trump interjected, "Why not?" Later on, Trump said he had a "winning temperament," prompting Clinton to respond: "Whew. OK."

Clinton's zingers

Often delivered with a smile, Clinton came prepared with pithy lines that undercut Trump's case on the economy.

In an early exchange, Clinton said Trump would push for "trickle-down" tax cuts that would benefit only the wealthy, calling it, "trumped-up trickle-down."

When Trump got in a dig at Clinton's absence from the campaign trail, she said there was nothing wrong with spending time preparing for the debate.

"You know what else I did?" she asked. "I prepared to be president."

Political outsider

Trump repeatedly underscored his role as a political outsider, questioning the economic stewardship of President Barack Obama and the administration of former president Bill Clinton, who sat in the front row.

Describing the loss of manufacturing jobs in states like Michigan and Ohio, Trump said Clinton had been in government for 30 years, asking, "Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now?"

When the discussion turned to foreign policy, Trump said Obama and Clinton failed to confront the Islamic State group, saying Clinton was there when it was "an infant."

Trump's taxes

Clinton savaged Trump with a lengthy explanation of why Trump won't release his tax returns, concluding he's got something to hide.

She said Trump may not be "as rich as he says he is" or "maybe he's not as charitable" as he says he is. Clinton warned perhaps Trump hadn't paid any federal income tax at all, noting some of Trump's incom- tax returns in the 1970s showed he had paid no federal income taxes in certain years.

Clinton's emails

Clinton took responsibility for using a private email server as Obama's secretary of state and gave Trump nowhere to go.

Despite her past statements in which she changed her story from previous iterations or left wiggle room by not being completely accurate, on Monday she avoided getting wrapped up in a lengthy exchange over one of her biggest liabilities.

Racial politics

Trump has said black voters have "nothing to lose" by supporting his candidacy, but he was forced to answer for his role in claiming Obama was born outside the United States.

Clinton accused Trump of spreading a "racist lie" that our "first black president" was not an American citizen, adding, "He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior."

Trump responded by recalling the debates between Clinton and Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, saying Clinton treated Obama then with "terrible disrespect."

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