Clinton vs. Trump: Debate breakdown

More than 80 million people watched Republican nominee Donald Trump clash with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the first presidential debate Monday night, making it the most-watched debate in American history.

Hofstra University in New York hosted the debate and Lester Holt of NBC News asked the questions. The candidates addressed numerous key issues that were presented in three different segments:

  • Achieving Prosperity, which focused on taxes and jobs.
  • America’s Direction, which focused on race and gun violence.
  • Securing America, which focused on America’s national security.

Here’s a look at where Trump and Clinton stood on the issues.



When it came to jobs, Trump was nothing but business, and that was the basis for his business plan. Trump began by discussing how the U.S. is losing jobs to Mexico and China, stating that he wants to take jobs from China and Mexico and bring them back to the American people.  

One of the major points of Trump’s stance on jobs is the fact that he wants to reduce taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent for small businesses. Trump compared himself to President Ronald Reagan by saying that his tax cuts will be the largest since Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s.

Lastly, Trump criticized Clinton by saying that her economic policies are horrible and would do nothing to help alleviate the country’s national debt.   


Clinton discussed a much different job plan compared to Trump. Instead of pulling jobs from Mexico and China, she wants to build on the job policies that Obama started.  

She intends to create more jobs by investing in green energy initiatives, such as solar power and windmills. Clinton believes that the U.S. should jump on the opportunity to become a green energy superpower, as it will lead to the creation of millions of jobs for Americans.

Addressing questions about trade, Clinton said that the U.S. needs a special prosecutor to enforce trade deals with other countries. Clinton also assured voters that she was originally against NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite claims that she originally supported both deals.



When it comes to taxes, Trump said he supports a tax cut for the wealthy. However, Trump said he believes that his tax cut will positively impact the middle class in the long run by allowing wealthy business owners the opportunity to expand their businesses, thus creating more jobs.

When pressured about his tax forms, however, Trump made a promise that when Clinton releases the 30,000 emails she deleted — she used a private email server while Secretary of State — he will finally let the world see his tax returns.  


Clinton is on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to taxes, as she supports raising taxes on the wealthy. She also wants to work toward making college debt-free for students; both of these points were based on ideas from the Bernie Sanders campaign.  

Overall, Clinton wants to build on the middle class, and she said the U.S. does not need any more advantages for the wealthy.

She also criticized Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, saying perhaps he is not as wealthy as he says or is doing business with someone he doesn’t want the American citizens to know about. When prompted about her use of a private email server, however, Clinton responded that she had made a mistake and took responsibility.

Race and Gun Control


Trump’s discussion on race and gun violence was mainly focused on, as he put it, “law and order.” Trump said that, in order to end police violence and shootings, there needs to be a return to law and order, especially on inner-city streets. Trump said he agrees with Clinton that we need to work for a feeling of “mutual respect between the people and law enforcement.”

Regarding gun control, Trump said he plans to work to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, those who are not mentally fit to own a gun and those on the no-fly list.


Clinton said race is one of America’s biggest issues. Like Trump, she believes that citizens need to work to maintain a better relationship with the police. In order to do this, she suggested that we need to bring communities together.

Clinton also wants to retrain officers to end racial bias, help prevent more police shootings and make police better prepared for altercations.

She also wants to implement stricter gun control. She said she wants more background checks and does not want people who are on the no-fly list to be able to buy a gun. She also wants to impose stricter gun laws.

National Security


First, Trump criticized NATO, as he believes that the other countries of the military alliance are not paying their dues to the overall organization. He also said he doesn’t like that the U.S. has to defend countries that are not paying their fair share.  

He said he believes NATO is not prepared at the moment to fight against terrorism. He said the military alliance needs to more training to combat ISIS. Trump also said he believes that NATO should take military action in the Middle East to destroy ISIS.  

Trump said he believes the U.S. is losing the security of the internet to ISIS and that ISIS is using the internet to radicalize U.S. citizens. One of his main initiatives as president would be to work with tech groups to take ISIS off the internet, he said.

Trump was a major critic of the fact that Clinton displays the ways she intends to defeat ISIS on her website. According to Trump, she is giving away plans to the enemies, and that is not what Gen. Douglas MacArthur would have done during World War II.


Clinton’s ideas on national security mirror those of President Obama’s administration, sand she said she believes we need to work closer with our allies in the Middle East to defeat ISIS.

Clinton also supports more airstrikes in Syria and said that our current strategy will work in defeating ISIS. She stressed the need to maintain a lasting and strong relationship with our Middle Eastern allies.

However, she said she does believe that Russians are a real threat to American National Security due to the fact that Russia is the main suspect in the hacking of the DNC that revealed the rigging of the democratic primary election.

She said the U.S. will not hesitate to engage in cyber warfare to defend ourselves from Russia and China.

Both candidates made their points on multiple issues. The question remains — who won? Let us know in the comments section whether you think Trump or Clinton prevailed.

Following Monday’s debate is a vice presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 4, followed by a town-hall-style debate hosted by Anderson Cooper on Oct. 9. The final debate between Clinton and Trump will take place on Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada.