Live From the First |Presidential Debate


     HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CN) – Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News is providing updates from the first debate of the 2016 race for the White House live from Hofstra University in New York.
     
     10:52 p.m.
     
     (CN) – Moderator Lester Holt asked Republican Donald Trump what he meant when he said Hillary Clinton didn’t have the “look” of a president.
     Trump immediately pivoted, saying “I don’t think she has the stamina to be president.”
     “You have so many things you have to be able to do [as president] and I don’t think you have the stamina to do it,” he said, fixing his gaze on Clinton.
     “When Donald Trump travels to 112 countries, negotiates a peace deal, a cease fire, the release of dissidents, or even spends 11 hours testifying before a congressional committee, then he can talk to be about stamina,” she said in response.
     Trump tried to hit back, saying “Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience … and this country can’t afford another four years of that kind of experience.”
     Clinton then brought the exchange back to Holt’s original question – about Trump’s comments about her “looks.”
     “He’s called women pigs, slobs, and dogs … and he is someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers … he said to woman in a beauty contest … he called her ‘Miss Piggy’ and ‘Miss Housekeeper,’ because she is Latino …”
     Trump complained that Clinton has been running “$200 million in negative advertisements against me … and it’s not nice and I don’t deserve that.”
     Holt concluded the debate, by reminding the candidates that in the end, only one of them will win. He asked whether if they would accept the outcome as the will of the people if the vote goes against them in November.
     “I will support the outcome of this election … [because] this election is really about you … it’s not about us,” Clinton said, looking directly into the camera. “It is about you, your family, and the future you want.”
     As for Trump, he said the country is “seriously troubled,” and “I want to make America great again.”
     That said, “if she wins, I will absolutely support her,” he allowed.
     
     10:35 p.m.
     
     (CN) – Hillary Clinton said defeating the Islamic State group and taking out its leaders would be a top priority as president.
     To follow through, she said she would do everything possible to take out the group’s leaders, and make that one of her administration’s organizing principles when dealing with the Islamic State.
     At the same time, she said one keys to fighting terrorism in the United States is working closely with Muslims living here.
     Clinton said Donald Trump has “consistently insulted Muslims abroad, Muslims at home.”
     
     10:30 p.m.
     
     (CN) – Hillary Clinton slammed Donald Trump over the “birther” issue, accusing him of starting his political career “by claiming President Barack Obama was born outside the United States.
     Clinton condemned Trump for spreading a “racist lie” that our “first black president” was not an American citizen.
     Clinton added, “He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.” She said the so-called “birther” issue was a lie, and “a very hurtful one.”
     Clinton called Obama a man of dignity and said the issue “bothered and annoyed him.”
     Trump responded by recalling bitter debates between Clinton and Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. He said Clinton treated Obama then with “terrible disrespect.”
     Trump also claimed to audible gasps that he did Obama a favor by demanding the president release his birth certificate.
     
     10:25 p.m.
     
     Donald Trump claims his much-maligned temperment is a virtue. “I have the temperment of a winner,” the Republican candidate claimed.
     
     10:06 p.m.
     
           (CN) – On the subject of race relations, Hillary Clinton acknowledged that “race remains a significant challenge in our country.”
     “Unfortunately, race still determines too much,” she said, pointing to the role it continues to play in where people live, the education of their children and how they are treated by the criminal justice system.
     “We need to restore trust between community and police, to make sure police are using the best training and techniques … everybody should be respected by the law and everyone should respect the law,” she said.
     Clinton went on to say “We have to tackle the plague of gun violence … and pass bipartisan legislation preventing people who are on terrorist watch lists from buying guns.”
     In response, Donald Trump said there were two words Clinton did not want to use: “law and order.”
     “We need law and order. If we don’t have it, we are not going to have a country,” Trump said. “We need law and order. We need stop and Frisk. We need to take guns away from the members of gangs, many of whom are illegal immigrants. We have to protect our inner cities.”
     Moderator Lester Holt broke in, saying the police technique of stop and frisk had been declared unconstitutional in New York.
     “You are wrong,” Trump said. “It went before a judge who was very against the police, and the case was taken away from her. Then our new mayor [New York Mayor Bill de Blasio] refused to go forward and appeal …”
     “We need more police, we have to have stop and frisk, and we need better community relations … we have to take guns away from bad people who shouldn’t have guns,” he said, going on to accuse Clinton and other politicians of pandering to the black community, and then ignoring them until it’s time for them to be re-elected.
     “The black community has been very ill-treated by the professional politicians,” he said. “It’s see you later. I’ll see you in four years.”
     
     Photo caption:
     Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question during the presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
     
     9:44 p.m.
     
           (CN) – Trump is asked about why he hasn’t released his income tax returns. Trump says he can’t because he’s being audited by the IRS.
     “I will release my tax returns, against my lawyers wishes, when she releases the 33,000 missing emails,” Trump said.
     The audience cheered. Moderator Lester Holt admonished the crowd, reminding them they’d been told not to interupr.
     Clinton responded by saying, “I think what you’ve just seen here is another example of bait and switch.”
     The former secretary of state said Trump might have several reasons for not wanting to release his tax returns.
     “Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is, maybe he is not as charaitable as he claims to be, maybe he doesn’t want the American people to know he owes $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks … maybe he doesn’t want you to know he’s paid nothing in federal income tax. …”
     “That makes me smart,” Trump said.
     But Clinton continued. ” … that’s zero for vets, zero for the military, zero for schools …
     During these exchanged, Trump did reveal that he made $694 million last year.
     Holt asked Clinton whether she wanted to respond to Trump’s comments about her email.
     “I made a mistake using a private email server,” Clinton said. “If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do it. But I am not going to make excuses.”
     “That was done purposefully,” Trump said.
     
     Photo caption:
     Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
     
     9:31 p.m.
     
     (CN) – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been trading barbs over trade policy and the economny for the first 30 minutes of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York.
     “I have a feeling that by the end of the evening I will be blamed for everything that ever happened,” Clinton declared at one point.
     “Why not?” said Trump.
     
     9;27 P.M.
     
     (CN) – The most anticipated presidential debate in history began with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump drawing stark distinctions in how they will go about growing the U.S. economy.
     Clinton, who spoke first, said the central questions of the election are what kind of country do we want to be, and what kind of future do we want to build together?
     “I want to invest in you,” the former secretary of state said, adding later that she believes “the more we can do for the middle class, the more we can invest in the middle class, the better off we’ll be.”
     She spoke of infrastructure investment, investment in small businesses and renewable energy, raising the national minimum wage and equal pay for women, profit sharing for employees, and doing more to support to people “trying to balance family and work.”
     Donald Trump opened by talking of “jobs fleeing the country,” mostly, he said, because of bad trade deals.
     “China,” he said, “is using our currency as a piggy bank to rebuild their country.”
     In the meantime, he said, companies like Ford and Carrier are building plants in other countries.
     “We have to do a much better job at keeping our job and offer companies better incentives to build and expand here,” Trump said.
     “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us and stop our companies from leaving the United States. We cannot let it happen,” he said.
     Trump vowed to reduce taxes “tremendously” for small and big businesses alike “and that’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.”
     Clinton called this proposal, “Trumped up trickle down economics”
     The two went on to trade blows over NAFTA, which Trump called a disaster, laying it, in the process, at the feet of presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and by extension, his opponent.
     “You have no plan,” Trump said. “You are going to approve the largest tax increase in history and drive companies out.”
     “What I have proposed will be paid for will be raising taxes on the wealthy,” Clinton said.
     
     8:23 p.m.
     
     Beer, Swag, and Spin: Inside the Debate Press Room
     
     (CN) — If gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson were alive, he would have a field day covering the Nielsen Ratings-busting bout between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
     But first, the author of “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” would head straight to the beer tent set up for the press and get loaded.
           That tent has no fewer than six brews available for the roughly 1,000 print, TV, and radio journalists informing the public about the hollowed institution that is the presidential debate: a bout between a former Secretary of State and a reality-TV star, held 56 years to the day since the Nixon-Kennedy debates.
     There’s Budweiser, Michelob, Blue Point and Shock Top available for the domestic press, Stella Artois on pour for the foreign press, and O’Douls for the teetotalers.
     Journalists can also take home a commemorative beer glass in a box stamped with the hashtag, #BrewDemocracy.
     That message is also emblazoned on a hashtag over a Jasper Johns-style mural of the American flag on one end. On the other side of the mural is another painting Lady Liberty’s torch, whose rim carries a few of America’s sick, poor and huddled weary cheerily toasting pints and bottles.
     For the health-conscious, there’s a commemorative water bottle from a sponsor, SeedToSip, to stay hydrated and environmentally aware. The plastic bottle says that it’s made 99.7 percent out of recyclable materials from the breweries.
     In Hofstra University’s tote bag, there are plastic coffee cups, pins, pens and even a souvenir, disinfectant hand-gel, perhaps for those feeling unclean about the corrosive effect of money in U.S. politics and media.
     But to be fair, the overworked reporters relentlessly covering the presidential debates are professionals, and few would get visibly buzzed on any drug other than access while at work.
           That’s the feeling journalists get while swarming around Mark Cuban, the billionaire who defected from the Republican to support Clinton. Most of the current questions are about Trump — instead of, say, how streams of unaccountable SuperPAC money affects the health and integrity of a democracy.
     Cuban’s strut across the press room brought professionals across the room up on their feet.
     The press sits across 30 rows of tables, one for every letter of the alphabet plus another four rows up to DD, to watch the debate on flat screen TVs, when they can just as easily flip on the tube at home or their hotels.
     But billionaires, politicians, and celebrities, for mere mortals, do not go to reporters’ homes en masse for our convenience.
     For that, the media heads to “spin alley,” where Clinton’s campaign set up a platform on on the left with a light blue backdrop bearing the words “Stronger Together” lit by soft-toned, white fluorescent light.
     On the opposite corner, Team Trump erected a stand with his “Make America Great Again!” with another exclamation point from sharp red lights.
     In the back and side areas, CNN, CBS, Fox and other major networks have set up shop for live broadcasts, but that doesn’t mean that these are the only locations where the recording happens.
     Journalists shoot segments in front of videographers while standing in the aisle, in the wings, or in between the rows.
           Enormous as the press room is, crossing it means navigating a labyrinth of people and equipment.
     This is even more true when the politicians and the talking heads enter, though such sightings have been rare before the debate.
     Rep. Steven King, a Long Island Republican who endorsed Trump, made a brief entrance early in the afternoon, before most of the press arrived.
     Trump and King formed a natural alliance in their rhetoric on Islam.
     Years before Trump proposed a pause on Muslim immigration into the United States, King led a set of hearings about Islamic radicalism that Democrats likened to Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunts.
     In a triumph of spin over substance, Newsday’s headline went with King’s prediction rather than his policy: “Rep. Peter King: Debate is Donald Trump’s to win or lose,” a title that communicates precisely nothing.
     Even if one could ignore the mass of people and pixels, dozens of signs and banners hanging around in the room are constant reminders that one has entered “DEBATE 2016” at Hofstra University.
     But other than NBC’s moderator Lester Holt, most of the press is barred from entering the Debate Hall, except on guided tours held on the day before the debate.
     The Commission for Presidential Debate has set up a far different environment here, even though the two locations are estimated to be holding roughly the same number of people.
           Here, the visuals are austere and patriotic rather than commercial and ostentatious: In the back, an eagle stands upon a shield of an American flag hoisting a banner that reads “The Union and the Constitution Forever.”
     Passages from that Constitution are projected behind candidates Clinton and Trump.
     Depending an their political persuasions, audience members might want to snicker at that design, but that sort of reaction is frowned upon by the organizers.
     “The audience is admonished at the beginning of the debate that they ought to be in silent mode because we really feel very strongly that they not become a part of the debate,” said David Eyre, the commission’s senior adviser.
     The press room, like any place the media congregate, is noisy, with the sounds of chatter, typing, broadcasts, and grumbling reporters anxious to feed the news beast — and then hop on over to the bar.
     
     5:24 p.m.
     
     Green Party’s Jill Stein Booted from Debate Grounds
     
           HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. (CN) — Rallying her supporters on Twitter to #OccupyTheDebates, Green Party candidate Jill Stein said that organizers have kicked her off the campus hosting tonight’s presidential debates.
     The Commission on Presidential Debates mandates that candidates score at least 15 percent in the polls to earn a spot next to the major-party nominees, and Stein has never broken past single-digits.
     But Stein went to Hofstra anyway to make her case to the press that public deserves to hear her platform for non-intervention, social investment and a “Green New Deal” to tackle climate change.
     She said on social media that had been on her way to an interview with MSNBC when campus and state police stopped her and then escorted her out.
     In a Tweet, Stein quoted Nassau Deputy Police Chief McCarthy as saying, “(Jill) is not public enemy number one.”
     “Interesting – why escort me from Hofstra for #debatenight?” she asked on Twitter.
     Reached for comment, Stein’s spokeswoman Meleiza Figueroa summarized the incident in an email.
     “We were at Hofstra to do pre-arranged interviews with media when we were stopped by Hofstra security and Nassau County police,” she wrote. “After a while, we were finally cleared to do our scheduled interview with MSNBC (which was late) and were escorted off campus immediately afterwards, though we still had a couple of interviews to do.”
     CNN’s media critic Brian Stelter reported chants of “let Jill debate!” from a crowd of students while she was being interviewed by another correspondent.
     The student leader of Hofstra’s feminist collective and anti-war group significant support within her circle for Stein’s campaign in an interview with Courthouse News.
     Stein is organizing a protest tonight to coincide with the debate.
     The Commission on Presidential Debates declined to comment.
     
     2:51 p.m.
     Debate Launches in Shadow of Lindbergh’s Flights
     
           HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. (CN) — The history of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic solo flight nearly 90 years ago is all around the Hofstra University, and with the arrival of Republican Donald Trump for debate night, so is one of the most troubling parts of the aviator’s legacy.
     Most of the global press covering tonight’s presidential debates have been told to park their cars in a parking lot off a street named after Lindbergh, just across the street from the Cradle of Aviation Museum.
     That is no accident: Roosevelt Field is a six-minute drive from campus, and that’s the spot from which Lindbergh launched across the Atlantic on May 20, 1927.
     Shoppers at the Roosevelt Field Mall may not realize that this shrine to Long Island consumerism is also a former airstrip. For years, the only commemoration of the flight was a two-foot-by-three-foot plaque in a seldom visited corner of the mall.
     But Lindbergh was very much a presence in the area in the days leading up to his historic flight. While getting the Spirit of St. Louis ready for its leap across the Atlantic, the pilot stayed at the nearby Garden City Hotel, which was mobbed by reporters and curious members throughout his stay.
     Lindbergh also ventured into nearby Westbury, where he frequented Barley’s Pharmacy on Post Avenue, where he made several small purchases and relaxed with an occasional ice cream soda.
     But Roosevelt Field’s place in aviation history neither began nor ended with Lindbergh. A number of major aircraft manufacturers set up shop on the Hempstead plane, and their legacy is still very much in evidence today.
     To cite one example: military contractor Lockheed-Martin, also an aerospace giant, sponsors internships for Hofstra’s engineering majors.
     Professor Richard Himelfarb, who teaches political science here, notes that Hempstead enjoys a reputation as “the birthplace of flight, or one of those places that calls itself the birthplace of flight.”
     But the doctor, who wrote “Catastrophic Politics: The Rise and Fall of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988,” noted that Hofstra and Lindbergh now share another tie in the form of a Republican candidate with space-age orange hair.
     Both Lindbergh and Trump have used their fame in one area the former for his solo, trans-Atlantic flight in May 1927; the later for business empire and reality television career to stump on behalf of the idea “America First.”
     Himelfarb said he was “very surprised” when Trump unveiled that slogan.
     “I mean, the ‘American Firsters’ were the people before World War II who said America needed to stay the heck out of World War II, and that it was none of our business, and we should let them just fight it out,” he said in a sit-down interview inside Hofstra’s debate room.
     “And of course, they did that in the aftermath of World War I, which was such a brutal, bitter war, and where there was a lot of controversy whether the United States should have entered, given the number of casualties we sustained,” he continued. “World War II, of course, was different. World War II, you had the rise of fascism in the world, and Lindbergh was somewhat sympathetic to Hitler.”
     In 2016, voters are just as war-weary from more than 4,400 U.S. military casualties and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths.
     Clinton’s Iraq War vote has hung like an albatross across her neck through two presidential campaigns, and Trump has cast himself as a brave voice in its dissent, even though he supported it before the invasion on the Howard Stern show.
     Trump’s rebranding of himself as a dove led Robert F. Kennedy’s former speechwriter to endorse him as the anti-war choice in an op-ed in Politico.
     “Donald Trump has been mocked mercilessly for saying, ‘America first,'” speechwriter Adam Walinsky wrote. “But to demand that all the actions of government, at home or abroad, be first directed at the interests and well-being of our own country is not old-fashioned or outmoded. Rather it represents the deepest wisdom and tradition of American statesmen from the founders on.”
     In reality, Trump’s is a funny kind of non-interventionism that, on the one hand, feints toward a more peaceful direction for Washington policy, while, with the other hand, vows to commit war crimes such as torture and the murder of innocent family members of terrorism suspects.
     The real-estate tycoon’s foreign policy has left Himelfarb, who calls himself a conservative, feeling out in the cold in the two-party system.
     “There’s nobody who’s speaking for people like me,” he said. “Hillary Clinton isn’t really speaking for people like me. She talks about a strong national defense, but when she’s asked in that joint appearance a couple weeks ago in New York City, ‘What’s your chief foreign policy goal?’ she says, ‘My chief foreign policy goal is to eradicate ISIS.'”
     Clinton held the conservative Himelfarb’s attention that far, before she pivoted to the familiar political cliché of avoiding “boots on the ground.”
     “I believe if the generals are telling her to put boots on the ground, she will,” the professor said. “I think she’s lying about this. I think she’s pandering to her base. She doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that we already have 5,000 soldiers that are on the ground. Is she going to pull them out, too?”
     Ironically, Himelfarb noted, Lindbergh’s most famous flight took off at a place named after his ideological nemesis: former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who won the war that the aviator hoped to ignore.
     
     11:58 a.m.
     MIT Peels Curtain on Social Media Political Debate
     
           Hours before the premiere 2016 presidential debate, Twitter users have posted mostly on foreign policy and national security, and 69 percent of them are talking about Trump, according to the data from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
     Clinton commanded another 29 percent of election Tweeters, but the only other candidate with a full percentage of Twitter users’ attention is not running in a third-party — but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the erstwhile opponent Democratic nominee.
     The MIT Media Lab, a research arm of the Cambridge, Mass.-based university, made this and other information available to reporters in the bustling press room here through its app Electome.
     Boasting of “fueling the horse race of ideas in the 2016 election,” the software provides a glimpse of what is on the minds of those posting on social media and publications tickling the wires.
     At 21 percent, the second-ranking concern for Twitter users talking about these candidates falls into the category “racial issues,” as more footage of the police fatally shooting a black civilian has fueled nearly a week of protest in Charlotte, North Carolina.
     Immigration draws a close third at 18 percent, the top issue of the Trump campaign promising to build a “big, beautiful, powerful” wall across the U.S.-Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it.
     The Clinton campaign has blasted Trump’s position as an inhumane, bigoted pipedream.
     At least on Twitter this election, it’s not the economy, stupid, a political discussion garnering 7 percent of chatter, just above guns in last place for 5 percent.
     But Foreign Policy magazine has been quick to note that issues like national security and immigration — the most popular issues — serve as stand-ins for economic issues amid a global rise in right-wing populism, and the domestic ascent of Trump.
     
     Photo caption:
     Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spar during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Ph

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