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2016 Presidential Debate Liveblog

On September 26 at 9:00 PM, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will take part in the first 2016 presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The debate, moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt, will be broadly focused on the anodyne subjects of “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity,” and “Securing America,” which will each be debated over the course of two 15-minute intervals. Here’s how to watch at home. Follow our live blog and @jdForward on Twitter for updates.


9:03 PM Lester Holt opens by explaining the format of the debate (listed above). Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton take the stage, Clinton in a bright red pantsuit and Trump wearing a blue power tie. The debate opens with the topic of “Achieving Prosperity” and a simple question: Why are you a better candidate than your opponent on the issue of job creation?

9:25 PM After a heated first segment, the debate shifts to questions of tax policy. Trump emphasizes the positive impact of corporations and what he sees as the unfair burden of complex corporate tax rules; Clinton explains her support for taxes on overseas profits and attempts to dissect Trump’s proposed tax policies.

9:33 PM Trump says he will release his tax returns, against the advice of his lawyers, if Clinton “releases her emails.” The audience applauds. Clinton calls Trump’s remark a “bait and switch” and offers her own explanation: maybe Trump isn’t as rich or as charitable as he claims to be.

9:45 PM Race determines too much, Clinton says. We’ve seen two tragic examples in Tulsa and Charlotte. We need to restore trust between people and the police; they need to be well-prepared to use force only when necessary. Ever since the first day of my campaign, she says, I have called for criminal justice reform.

9:50 PM Trump says Clinton is avoiding the words “law and order”; and if she doesn’t use those words, we “won’t have a country.” African-Americans and Hispanics are living in hell. He says immigrant gangs are roaming American cities and causing this carnage.

9:54 PM We have to be sure to keep people safe; there are the right ways, Clinton says, and there are ways that are ineffective. Violent crime is half of what it was in 1991; property crime is down 40 percent. It’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a white man you’re more likely to be jailed. We have to address the systemic racism in our system. We can’t just say law and order; we have to come up with a plan.

9:56 PM Trump reminds Clinton that she came up with the term “superpredator,” reminding her of the term she used three decades ago when describing criminal youth. It was a key point for Bernie Sanders in his campaign and Clinton made an effort to walk back the claim. “It was a terrible thing to say,” Trump said, adding that the African-American community has been let down by politicians. Polls have should, however, that Trump’s approval numbers among black voters are historically low.

10:01 PM Trump tried to deflect claims of racism by accusing Clinton’s Jewish adviser Sid Blumenthal of starting the Birther discussion. Blumenthal, he said, failed to get Obama to produce his birth certificate, but Trump succeeded. “I think I did a great service for the country and the president in getting him to produce him,” he said. Clinton shot back, saying that Trump “started his career in 1973 being sued for racial discrimination. Wouldn’t rent to African Americans,” and that working with Obama she saw that “the Birther lie was very hurtful” to the president.

10:05 PM Holt asks Donald Trump about his insistence that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States; he accuses Clinton of perpetrating the same notion. Trump wanders a bit in trying to pin the accusation on Clinton, and when he finishes his response, she calls sarcastic attention it. The audience laughs. She reminds her listeners that Trump has been accused of racist business practices and evokes the Obamas’s dignity and ability to “go high” when others are “going low.” Trump says that he never admitted guilt when accused of racist business practices and that, indeed, he has opened a club in Florida that didn’t discriminate against anybody.

10:07 PM The discussion on cyber terrorism gave Clinton a chance to slam Trump on his admiration to Vladimir Putin and his calls to Russia to hack her email accounts. Trump’s response: “Bernie Sanders was taken advantage by people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” a reminder of the mistreatment of Sanders by the DNC as revealed after the Russian hack to the party’s emails. And Trump also had more expert perspective on the cyber terrorism issue: his 10 years old son, “is so good with computers.”

10:12 PM Holt asks about cybersecurity, and Clinton alludes to possible Russian complicity in hacks against the United States, raising the question of why Trump praises Russian President Vladimir Putin so fulsomely. Trump responds by noting that in the hack against the Democratic national committee, “We learned that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, look what happened to her.”

10:13 PM Trump claims that ISIS wouldn’t have been “been formed” if President Barack Obama and Clinton had “left troops” in Iraq and “taken the oil,” since it was their primary source of income. Clinton notes that the United States couldn’t have stayed in Iraq without a guarantee of safety for American troops from the Iraqi government, which they couldn’t obtain.

10:14 PM The debate finally touches on foreign policy. Clinton accused Trump of alienating Muslim nations and Muslim Americans at a time when cooperation should be increased. “We’ve been working with them for many years, and look at the middle east – we have a mess” Trump responded. And then he added: “The Iran deal – they were choking on the sanctions and now they’ll be a major nation.”

10:21 PM Trump and Holt get into an argument about whether he supported the Iraq war; Holt says the record shows that he did, Trump insists that he didn’t, and points to Fox news host Sean Hannity as his source. “If someone would call up Sean Hannity, he and I would have arguments about the war.”

10:28 PM Holt asks Trump what he thinks of the “first use” doctrine, which Obama considered changing. Trump says he would never strike first, but at the same time, “nothing is off the table.” He urges China to go into North Korea and moves against to the Iran deal, asking why the negotiators didn’t “do something” to induce Iran to pressure North Korea and Yemen. “This is one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history,” Trump says. “I met with Bibi Netanyahu the other day,” Trump said, “and believe me, he is not a happy camper.”

10:30 PM First mention of Israel comes at the final moments of the debate, as Trump brings up the Iranian nuclear deal again. “I met with Bibi Netanyahu yesterday, believe me, he’s not a happy camper,” he said, referring to his meeting in New York yesterday with the Israeli leader. “Would he have started a war, would he have bombed Iran?” Clinton asked. “He should tell us what his alternative would be.” Trump responds that he will support our allies, but “We cannot be the policeman of the world.”

10:35 PM Trump tries to shift the question of whether he said Clinton doesn’t have a “presidential look” to whether she has the “stamina.” Clinton first reminds the audience of the rigors of her travels while Secretary of State but also seizes the moment to remind watchers of some of Trump’s sexist remarks and his fondness for “hanging around” beauty pageants. In the closing comments, Trump congratulates himself for not saying something “inappropriate,” and “not nice” about Clinton and her family, also evoking Rosie O’Donnell’s harsh treatment of him. In his last words, Trump reminds the audience that 800 immigrants were mistakenly allowed to stay in this country.

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