The first general election debate is here: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off Monday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Moderated by NBC Nightly News's Lester Holt, the debate will focus on three themes: "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity," and "Securing America."
In the days leading up to the debate, Trump focused on bringing expectations down — his campaign is even downplaying Trump’s prep — knowing that throughout this election he has been praised for any semblance of self-control. Clinton, known to be a talented debater, could face a different standard as a career politician.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s campaign, along with prominent media and political voices, has been pushing for Holt to fact-check the candidates in real time — while Trump’s team is pushing back.
Tensions are high for both candidates, who are in an increasingly tight race. Monday morning brought bad news for Clinton, who, while still ahead in the polls, could be seeing a slip in her Electoral College lead as Trump passed her in Colorado polls.
And as Vox’s Andrew Prokop writes: "Debates have the potential to make a small but real impact on the race. Polls have often shifted by a few percentage points during debate season, and in a close race, that could really matter."
Vox will run a live rush transcript of Monday’s 90-minute debate below.
Lester Holt: Good evening from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, I'm Lester Holt, anchor of NBC Nightly News. I want to welcome you to the first presidential debate. The participants are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This debate is sponsored by a nonpartisan commission.
The commission drafted tonight's format and the rules have been agreed to by the campaigns. The 90-minute debate is divided into six segments, each 15 minutes long. We'll explore three topics area tonight, "Achieving Prosperity," "America's Direction," and "Securing America."
At the start of each segment, I will ask the same lead-off question to both candidates and they will have up to two minutes to respond.
The questions have not been shared with the commission or the campaigns.
The audience here in the room has agreed to remain silent so that we can focus on what the candidates are saying. I will invite you to applaud, however, at this moment, as we welcome the candidates, Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, and Republican nominee for president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
Well, I don't expect us to cover all of the issues of this campaign tonight, but I remind everyone, there are two more presidential debates scheduled. We are going to focus on many of the issues that voters tell us are most important and we're going to press for specifics. I am honored to have this role, but this evening belongs to the candidates and, just as important, to the American people.
Candidates, we look forward to hearing you articulate your policies and your positions as well as your visions and your values. So, let's begin.
We're calling this opening segment "Achieving Prosperity," and central to that is jobs. There are two economic realities in America today. There's been a record six straight years of job growth, and new census numbers show income has increased at a record rate after years of stagnation.
However, income inequality remains stagnant, and Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Beginning with you, Secretary Clinton, why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kind of jobs that put more money into the pockets of American workers.
Hillary Clinton: Thank you, Lester, and thanks to Hofstra for hosting us. The central question in this election is really what kind of country we want to be in, what kind of future we'll build together.
Today is my granddaughter's 2nd birthday, so I think about this a lot. First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. That means we need new jobs, good jobs with rising incomes. I want us to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business.
We also have to make the economy fairer. That starts with raising the national minimum wage and also guarantee, finally, equal pay for women's work. I also want to see more companies do profit sharing. If you help create the profits, you should be able to share in them, not just the executives at the top.
And I want us to do more to support people who are struggling to balance family and work. I've heard from so many of you about the difficult choices you face and the stresses that you're under. So let's have paid family leave, earned sick days — let's be sure we have affordable child care and debt-free college. How are we going to do it? We're going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes.
Finally, we tonight, are on the stage together, Donald Trump and I. Donald, it's good to be with you. We're going to have a debate where we are talking about the important issues facing our country. You have to judge us, who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency. Who can put into action the plans that will make your life better. I hope that I will be able to earn your vote on November 8th.
Holt: Secretary Clinton, thank you. Mr. Trump, the same question to you. It's about putting money — more money into the pockets of American workers. You have up to two minutes.
Donald Trump: Thank you, Lester. Our jobs are fleeing the country. They are going to Mexico, they are going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product. They are devaluing their currency and there's nobody in our government to fight them and we have a very good fight and we have a winning fight because they are using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China and many other countries are doing the same thing. So we're losing our good jobs, so many of them.
When you look at what is happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants says it's the eighth wonder of the world, that the biggest plants in the world, the most sophisticated, some of the best plants — with the United States, as we said, not so much.
So Ford is leaving. You see that, a small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio, they are all leaving. And we can't allow it to happen anymore. As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we're going to do, but perhaps we'll be talking about that later. But we have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States, and with it, firing all of their people. All you have to do is take a look at Carrier Air Conditioning in Indianapolis. They are going to Mexico. So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this. We cannot let it happen.
Under my plan, I'll be reducing taxes tremendously from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. 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. Companies will come, they will build, they will expand, new companies will start, and I look very, very much forward to doing it. We have to renegotiate our trade deals and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.
Holt: Secretary Clinton, would you like to respond?
Clinton: Well, I think that trade is an important issue. Of course, we are 5 percent of the world's population. We have to trade with the other 95 percent. And we need to have smart, fair trade deals. We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics. It would be the most extreme version — the biggest tax cuts for the top percents of the people in this country that we've ever had. I call it "trumped up trickle-down," because that's exactly what it would be.
That is not how we grow the economy. We just have a different view about what's best for growing the economy, how we make investments that will actually produce jobs and rising incomes. I think we come at it from somewhat different perspectives. I understand that.
You know, Donald was very fortunate in his life and that's all to his benefit. He started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father, and he really believes that the more you help wealthy people, the better off we'll be and that everything will work out from there. I don't buy that. I have a different experience. My father was a small-business man. He worked really hard. He printed drapery fabrics and went down with a silk screen and dumped the paint in and kept going. And so what I believe is the more we can do for the middle class, the more we can invest in you, your education, your skills, your future, the better we will be off and the better we'll grow. That's the kind of economy I want us to see again.
Holt: Let me follow up with Mr. Trump, if I can. You've talked about creating 25 million jobs and you've promised to bring back millions of jobs for Americans. How are we going to bring back the industries that have left this country for cheaper labor overseas? How specifically are you going to tell American manufacturers that you have to come back?
Trump: Well, for one thing, and before we start on that, my father gave me a very small loan in 1975 and I built it into a company that's worth many, many billions of dollars with some of the greatest assets in the world, and I say that because that's the kind of thinking our country needs. Our country is in deep trouble. We don't know what we're doing when it comes to devaluations, and all of these countries all over the world, especially China, they are the best, the best ever at it. What they are doing to us is a very, very sad thing.
So we have to do that. We have to renegotiate our trade deals.
Lester, they are taking our jobs, giving incentives, doing things that frankly we don't do. Let me give you an example of Mexico. They have a VAT tax. We're in a different system.
When we sell into Mexico, there's a tax. When they sell, an automatic 16 percent approximately — when they sell into us, there's no tax. It's a defective agreement. It's been defective for a long time, many years. But the politicians haven't done anything about it. Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton, yes, is that okay? Good. I want you to be very happy. It's very important to me. But in all fairness to Secretary Clinton, when she started talking about this, it was really very recently. She's been doing this for 30 years. Why hasn't she made the agreements better? The NAFTA agreement is defective.
Holt: Let me interrupt a moment.
Trump: Secretary Clinton and others, politicians, should have been doing this for years, not right now because of the fact that we've created a movement. They should have been doing this for years. What's happened to our jobs and our country and our economy generally is —look, we owe $20 trillion. We can't do it any longer.
Holt: Back to the question, specifically, how do you bring back the jobs? American manufacturers, how do you bring the jobs back?
Trump: First of all, you don't let the companies leave. The companies are leaving. There are thousands of them. They are leaving and they are leaving in bigger numbers than ever.
And what you do is you say, fine, you want to go to Mexico or some other country, good luck. We wish you a lot of luck. If you think you're going to make your air conditioners or your cars or cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you're wrong.
And once you say you're going to have to tax them coming in and our politicians never do this because they have special interests and special interests want those companies to leave because in many cases they own the companies. So what I'm saying is, we can stop them from leaving. We have to stop them from leaving. And that's a big, big factor.
Holt: Let me let the secretary answer here.
Clinton: Let's stop for a second here and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the worst since the 1930s in large part because of the policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street and created a perfect storm. In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said back in 2006, "gee, I hope it does collapse because then I can go in and buy some and make some money." Well, it did collapse.
Trump: That's called business, by the way.
Clinton: 9 million people — 9 million people lost their jobs, 5 million people lost their homes and $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. Now, we have come back from that abyss and it has not been easy, so we're now on the precipice from having a lasting economy but we need to go back to the policies that failed us in the first place. Independent experts have looked at what I have proposed and looked at what Donald has proposed and basically they said this.
That if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion and would, in some instances, disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go into effect, we would lose 3 and a half million jobs and maybe have another recession.They looked at my plans and said, okay, if we can do this — and I intend to get it done — we will have 10 million more jobs because we'll make investments where we can grow the economy. Take clean energy. Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real.
Trump: I did not. I do not say that.
Clinton: Scientists say it's real and I think it's important that we grip this and deal with it both at home and abroad. And here's what we can do. We can deploy half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That's a lot of jobs. That's a lot of new economic activity. So I've tried to be very specific about what we can and should do and I am determined that that we're going to get the economy really moving again, building on the progress we've made over the last eight years but never going back to what got us in trouble in the first place.
Holt: Mr. Trump?
Trump: She talks about solar panels. We invested in a solar company. They lost plenty of money on that one. Look, I'm a great believer in all forms of energy but we're putting a lot of people out of work. Our energy policies are a disaster. Our country is losing so much in terms of energy and paying off our debt. You can't look at what you're planning to do with $20 trillion in debt. The Obama administration, from the time they have come in, is over 230 years worth of debt and he's topped it. He's doubled it in a course of almost eight years, seven and a half years, to be semi-exact.
So I will tell you this, we have to do a much better job at keeping our jobs. And we have to do a much better job at giving companies incentives to build new companies to expand, because they are not doing it. And all you have to do is look at Michigan and look at Ohio and look at all of these places where so many of their jobs and their companies are just leaving. They are gone. And Hillary, I'd just ask you this. You've been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years you've been doing it and now you are just starting to think of solutions.
Clinton: Actually, that's —
Trump: Excuse me. I will bring back jobs. You can't bring back jobs.
Clinton: Well, actually, I have thought about this quite a bit.
Trump: Yeah, for 30 years.
Clinton: And I have — well, not quite that long. I think my husband did a pretty good job in the 1990s. I think a lot about what worked and how we can make it work again.
Trump: He approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal in this country.
Clinton: Incomes went up for everybody. Manufacturing went up in the 1990s if we're actually going to look at the facts. When I was in the Senate, I had a number of trade deals that came before me and I held them all to the same test: Will they create jobs in America and are they good for our national security. Some of them I voted for.
The biggest one, a multinational one known as CAFTA, I voted against. And because I hold the same standards as I look at all of these trade deals. But let's not assume that trade is the only challenge we have in the economy. I think it is a part of it, and I've said what I'm going to do. I'm going to have a special prosecutor. We're going to enforce the trade deals we have and we're going to hold people accountable. When I was secretary of state, we actually increased American exports globally 30 percent. We increased them to China 50 percent. So I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that helped to create more new jobs.
Trump: You haven't done it in 30 years or 26 years or —
Clinton: I've been a senator and I have —
Trump: Excuse me. Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened.
Clinton: Well, that's your opinion.
Trump: To the manufacturing industry. You go to new England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacturing is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent.
NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere but certainly ever signed in this country and now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it, and then you heard how I said how bad it was and if you win, you would approve it and it would be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top that.
Clinton: That is not accurate. Once the terms were laid out and —
Trump: You called it the gold standard. You called it the gold standard of trade deals.
Clinton: You know what —
Trump: You said it's the finest deal you've ever seen.
Trump: And all of a sudden you were against it.
Clinton: Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts. The facts are I did say I hoped it would be a good deal, but when it was negotiated —
Clinton: — which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn't. I wrote about that.
Trump: So is it President Obama's fault? Is it President Obama's fault?
Clinton: Look, there are —
Trump: So is it President Obama's fault?
Clinton: There are different views about what is good for our country, our economy, and our leadership in the world, and I think it's important to look at what we need to do to get the economy going again. That's why I said, new jobs with rising incomes, investments, not in more tax cuts that would add $5 trillion to the debt.
Trump: But you have no plan.
Clinton: Oh, I do.
Trump: Secretary, you have no plan.
Clinton: I have written a book about it. It's called Stronger Together. You can pick it up tomorrow at the bookstore or at an airport near you.
Holt: We're going to move to —
Clinton: We need to have strong growth, fair growth, sustained growth. We also have to look at how we help families balance their responsibilities at home and the responsibilities of business. We have a very robust set of plans, and people have looked at both of our plans, have concluded that mine would create 10 million jobs and yours would lose us 3 and a half million jobs and —
Trump: You are going to approve one of the biggest tax increases in history. You are going to drive business out. Your regulations are a disaster and you're going to increase regulations all over the place. And by the way, my tax cut is the biggest since Ronald Reagan. I'm very proud of it. It will create tremendous numbers of new jobs. But regulations, you are going to regulate these businesses out of existence. When I go around — Lester, I tell you this, I've been all over.
And when I go around, despite the tax cut, the things that businesses and people like the most is the fact that I'm cutting regulation. You have regulations on top of regulations and new companies cannot form and old companies are going out of business and you want to increase the regulations and make them even worse. I'm going to cut regulations. I'm going to cut taxes big league and you're going to raise taxes big league. End of story.
Holt: Let me get you to pause right there.
Clinton: Lester, that can't be left to stand.
Trump: Thirty seconds and then we'll go on.
Clinton: I kind of assumed there would be a lot of these charges and claims and so —
Clinton: We have taken the homepage of my website, HillaryClinton.com and we've turned it into a fact checker. So if you want to see it in realtime, what the facts are, please go and take a look, because —
Trump: And take a look at mine, also.
Clinton: I will not add a penny to the debt and your plans would add $5 trillion to the debt. What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy because they have made all the gains in the economy and I think it's time that the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share.
Holt: You just opened the next segment.
Trump: … She's going to raise taxes $1.3 trillion. Look at her website. It's no different than this. She's telling us how to fight ISIS. She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don't think General MacArthur would like that too much.
Clinton: At least I have a plan to fight ISIS.
Trump: No, you're telling the enemy everything you want to do. No wonder you've been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.
Holt: Folks, let me —
Clinton: Go to — please, the fact checkers, get to work.
Holt: You are unpacking a lot here and we're still on the issue here of achieving prosperity and I want to talk about taxes, the fundamental difference between the two of you concerns the wealthy. Secretary Clinton, you're calling for an increase of taxes on the wealthiest and Mr. Trump, you're calling on tax cuts for the wealthy. I'd like for you to defend that, and this next two-minute answer goes to you, Mr. Trump.
Trump: They are going to expand their companies and do a tremendous job. I'm getting rid of the great thing for the wealthy, it's a great thing for the middle class and for companies to expand and when these people are going to put billions and billions of dollars into companies and when they are going to bring $2.5 trillion back from overseas where they can't bring the money back because politicians like Secretary Clinton won't allow them to bring the money back because the taxes are so onerous and the bureaucratic red tape, it's so bad.
So what they are doing is leaving our country and, believe it or not, they are leaving because taxes are too high and because some of them have lots of money outside of our country and instead of bringing it back and putting the money to work because they can't work out a deal and everybody agrees it should be brought back, instead of that, they are leaving our country to get their money because they can't bring their money back into our country because of bureaucratic red tape, because they can't get together. Because we have a president that can't sit them around a table and get them to approve something and here's the thing, Republicans and Democrats agree that this should be done. 2.5 trillion.
I happen to think it's double that. It's probably $5 trillion that we can't bring into our country, Lester, and with a little leadership, you'd get it in here very quickly and it could be put to use on the inner cities and lots of other things and it would be beautiful. But we have no leadership. And honestly, that starts with secretary Clinton.
Holt: You have two minutes on the same question to defend tax increases of the wealthiest Americans, Secretary Clinton.
Clinton: I have a feeling by the end of this evening I'm going to be blamed for everything that's ever happened.
Trump: Why not?
Clinton: Yeah. Why not? Just join the debate by saying more crazy things. Now, let me say this.
Trump: There's nothing crazy about not letting our companies bring their money back into the country.
Holt: This is Secretary Clinton's two minutes, please.
Clinton: Let's start the clock again, Lester. We've looked at your tax proposals. I don't see changes in the corporate tax rates or the kinds of proposals you're referring to that would cause the repatriation, bringing back of the money stranded overseas.
Trump: Then you didn't read it.
Clinton: I happen to support that in a way that will actually work to our benefit. But when I look at what you have proposed, you have what is called now the Trump loophole because it would so advantage you and the business you do. You've proposed —
Trump: Who gave it that name? Who gave it that name.
Holt: I'm sorry. This is Secretary Clinton's two minutes.
Clinton: A tax benefit for your family.
Trump: How much for my family? Lester? How much?
Clinton: Trumped up, trickle down. Trickle down did not work. It got us into the mess we were in in 2008 and 2009. Slashing taxes on the wealthy hasn't worked and a lot of really smart, wealthy people know that. And they are saying, hey, we need to do more to make the contributions we should be making to rebuild the middle class. I don't think top-down works in America.
I think building the middle class, investing in the middle class, making college debt-free so more young people can get their education, helping people refinance their debt from college at a lower rate, those are the kinds of things that will really boost the economy. Broad-based inclusive growth is what we need in America, not more advantages for people at the very top.
Trump: Typical politician, all talk, no action, sounds good, doesn't work, never going to happen. Our country is suffering because people like Secretary Clinton have made such bad decisions in terms of our jobs and in terms of what's going on. Now, look, we have the worst revival of the economy since the great depression and, believe me, we're in a bubble right now. The only thing that looks good is the stock market but if you raise interest rates even a little bit, it's going to come crashing down.
We're in a big, fat, ugly bubble and we better be awfully careful and we have a fed doing political things. This Janet Yellen of the fed is [acting politically] by keeping the interest rates at this level and, believe me, the day Obama goes off and he leaves and goes out to the golf course for the rest of his life to play golf, when they raise interest rates, you're going to see some very bad things happen because the fed is not doing their job. The fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.
Holt: Mr. Trump, we're talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns and the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so that voters will know if their potential president owes money, who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don't Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?
Trump: I don't mind releasing. I'm under a routine audit. It will be released as soon as the audit is complete but you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections where I filed a 104-page, essentially, financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have. It shows income, in fact, the income, I just looked today, the income is filed at $694 million for this past year.
If you would have told me I was going to make that 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been very surprised but that's the kind of thinking that our country needs. When we have a country that's doing so badly, that's being ripped off by every single country in the world, it's the kind of thinking that our country needs because everybody —
Lester, we have a trade deficit with all of the countries that we do business with of almost $800 billion a year. You know what that is? Who is negotiating these trade deals? We have people that are political hacks negotiating our trade deals.
Clinton: The IRS says an audit of your taxes — you're perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. The question, does the public's right to know outweigh your —
Trump: I told you, I'll release them after the audit. I've been under audit for almost 15 years. I know a lot of wealthy people that have never been audited. I get audited every year. In a way, I should be complaining.
I don't mind it. It's a way of life. I get audited by the IRS. Other people don't. I will say this. We have a situation in this country that has to be taken care of. I will release my tax returns, against my lawyer's wishes, when she releases her 33,000 emails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release my tax returns and that's against my lawyers say don't do it. I will say this. In fact, watching shows to reading the papers, almost every lawyer says you don't release your returns until the audit is complete. When the audit's complete, I'll do it. But I would go against them if —
Holt: So it's negotiable?
Trump: It's not negotiable, no. Why did she delete 33,000 —
Holt: I'll let her answer that. Let me admonish the audience one more time. There was an agreement. We asked you to be silent. It would be helpful for us. Secretary Clinton?
Clinton: I think you've just seen another example of bait and switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly I think 39, 40 years of our tax returns but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you're under audit.
So you've got to ask yourself, why won't he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he's not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he's not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don't know all of his business dealings but we have been told, through investigative reporting, that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks.
Or maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes because the only years that anybody has ever seen were a couple of years when had he to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax. So _
Trump: That makes me smart.
Clinton: He paid zero. That means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health. And I think probably he's not all that enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons are because it must be something really important, even terrible that he's trying to hide.
And the financial disclosure statement, they don't give you the tax rate. They don't give you all the details that tax returns would and it just seems to me that this is something that the American people deserve to see and I have no reason to believe that he's ever going to release his tax returns because there's something he's hiding.
And we'll guess, we'll keep guessing at what it is that he's hiding but I think the question is, will he ever, to get near the White House, what would be those conflicts? Who does he owe money to? Well, he owes you the answers to that and he should provide them.
Holt: He also raised the issue of your emails. Do you want to respond to that?
Clinton: I do. You know, I made a mistake using a private email.
Trump: That's for sure.
Clinton: And if I had to do it over again, I would obviously do it differently. But I'm not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake and I take responsibility for that.
Holt: Mr. Trump?
Trump: That was more than a mistake. That was done purposely. Okay? That was not a mistake. That was done purposely. When you have your staff taking the fifth amendment, taking the fifth so they are not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the fifth, I think it's disgraceful. And believe me, this country thinks it's disgraceful — really thinks it's disgraceful, also.
As far as my tax returns, you don't learn that much from tax returns. You learn a lot from financial disclosures. I'm extremely under-leveraged. The report that said 650 — by the way, my friends said boy that's not a lot of money relative to what I had. The buildings in question, actually, it wasn't a bad story, to be honest with you, but the buildings are worth $3.9 billion and the 650 isn't even on that.
But it's not 650. It's much less than that. But I could give you a list of banks, if that would help you, I would give you list of banks, these are fine institutions. I'm very under-leveraged. I have a great company and I have tremendous income.
I say that not in a braggadocios way but it's time that this country has somebody running the country who has an idea about money. When we are $20 trillion in debt and our country is a mess. It's one thing to have $20 trillion in debt and our airports and roads are good and — our airports are like from a third world country. You land at LaGuardia, Newark, LAX., and you come in from Dubai and Qatar, you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, we've become a third-world country.
So the worst of all things have happened. We owe $20 trillion and we're a mess. Whether it's six or five but it looks like it's 6 — $6 trillion in the Middle East we could have rebuilt our country twice and it's really a shame and it's politicians like Secretary Clinton that have caused this problem. Our country has tremendous problems. We're a debtor nation, we're a serious debtor nation and we need new bridges, airports, schools, new hospitals and we don't have the money because it's been squandered on so many of your ideas.
Clinton: And maybe it's because you haven't paid any federal income tax for a lot of years. And the other thing I think is important —
Trump: It would be squandered, too, believe me.
Clinton: And if your main claim to be President of the United States is your business, then I think we should talk about that.
You know, your campaign manager said that you built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys. And indeed, I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald. I've met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers like my dad was who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do.
We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It's a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn't pay what the man needed to be paid what he was charging you.
Trump: Maybe he didn't do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work, which our country should do, too.
Clinton: For the thousands of people that you have stiffed over the course of your business, not deserve some kind of apology from someone who has taken their labor, taken the goods that they've produced and then refused to pay them.
I can only say that I'm certainly relieved that my late father never did business with you. He provided a good middle-class life for us but the people he worked for, he expected the bargain to be kept on both sides. And when we talk about your business, you've taken business bankruptcy six times. There are a lot of great business people that have never taken bankruptcy once.
You call yourself the king of debt. You talk about leverage. You even at one time suggested that you would try to negotiate down the national debt —
Clinton: Of the United States. Well, sometimes there's not a direct transfer of skills from business to government but sometimes what happened in business would be really bad for government. So be very clear about that.
Trump: Look, it's all words. It's all sound bites. I built an unbelievable company, some of the greatest assets anywhere in the world, real estate assets in the world beyond the United States and it's an unbelievable company. But on occasion, four times, we used certain laws that are there and when Secretary Clinton talks about people that didn't get paid, first of all, they did get paid a lot but taking advantage of the laws of the nation.
Now, if you want to change the laws, you've been there a long time, change the laws. But take advantage of the laws of the nation because I'm running a company. My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies. And that's what I do. But what she doesn't say is the tens of thousands of people that are unbelievably happy and they love me.
I'll give you an example. We're just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the White House so if I don't get there one way, I'm going to get to Pennsylvania avenue another. But we're opening the old post office. Under budget, ahead of schedule, saved tremendous money, I'm a year ahead of schedule and that's what this country should be doing. We build roads and they cost two and three and four times what they are supposed to cost. We buy products for our military and they come at costs so far above what they are supposed to be because we don't have people that know what they are doing.
When we look at the budget, the budget is bad to a large extent because we have people that have no idea as to what to do and how to buy. The Trump International is way under budget and way ahead of schedule and we should be able to do that for our country.
Holt: We're well behind schedule so I'm going to move to our next segment. We move into our next segment talking about America's direction and let's talk about race. The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it's been in decades. Much of it amplified by shootings in Arkansas and Tulsa. How do you heal the divide? Secretary Clinton, you get two minutes on this.
Clinton: Well, you're right. Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much. Often it determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get and, yes, it determines how they are treated in the criminal justice system.
We've just seen those two tragic examples in both Tulsa and Charlotte. And we've got to do several things at the same time. We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they are well-prepared to use force only when necessary. Everyone should be respected by the law and everyone should respect the law. Right now, that's not the case in a lot of our neighborhoods.
So I have, ever since the first day of my campaign, called for criminal justice reform. I've laid out a platform that I think would begin to remedy some of the problems we have in the criminal justice system.
But we also have to recognize, in addition to the challenges that we face with policing, there are so many good, brave police officers who equally want reform. So we have to bring communities together in order to begin working on that as a mutual goal. And we've got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
The gun epidemic is the leading cause of death of young African-American men, more than the next nine causes put together. So we have to do two things, as I said. We have to restore trust, we have to work with the police, we have to make sure they respect the communities and the communities respect them and we have to tackle the plague of gun violence, which is a big contributor to a lot of the problems that we're seeing today.
Holt: Mr. Trump, you have two minutes. How do you heal the divide?
Trump: First of all, Secretary Clinton doesn't want to use a couple of words. And that's law and order. We need law and order. If we don't have it, we're not going to have a country. And when I look at what's going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what's going on in various parts of our country, I could keep naming them all day long, we need law and order in our country. And I just got today the — as you know, the endorsement of the fraternal order of police, it just came in.
We have endorsements from I think almost every police group — a large percentage of them in the United States. We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African-Americans, hispanics are living in hell because it's so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot. In Chicago, they've had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st. Thousands of shootings.
And I'm saying, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing? And we have to stop the violence, we have to bring back law and order in a place like Chicago where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years. In fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president, over 4 —almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed.
We have to bring back law and order. Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, worked well in New York, brought the crime way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn't be having it. We have gangs roaming the street and in many cases they are illegally here, illegal immigrants, and they have guns and they shoot people. We have to be very strong and we have to be very vigilant.
We have to know what we're doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities because African-American communities are being decimated by crime.
Holt: Your two minutes expired but I want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York because it largely singled out black and hispanic —
Trump: No, you're wrong. It went before a judge who was a very against police judge. It was taken away from her and our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won on appeal. If you look at it throughout the country, there are —
Holt: The argument is that it's a form of racial profiling.
Trump: No. The argument is that we have to take the gun ace way from these people that have them and are bad people and shouldn't have them. These are felons. These are people that are bad people that shouldn't be — when you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop and frisk.
You need more police. You need a better community, you know, relation. You don't have good community relations in Chicago. It's terrible. I have property there. It's terrible what's going on in Chicago. And Chicago's not the only one.
You go to Ferguson, so many other places. You need better relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this. You need better relationships. You need better relationships between the community and police, but you look at Dallas where the relationships were a beautiful thing. And then five police officers were killed. One night very violently. So there's some bad things going on. Some really bad things. But we need, Lester, we need law and order, and we need law and order in the inner cities. Because the people that are most affected by what's happening are African-Americans and hispanics, and it's very unfair to them what our politicians are allowing to happen.
Holt: Secretary Clinton?
Clinton: Well, I've heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it's really unfortunate that he paints such a dire, negative picture of black communities in our country.
Clinton: [He misses the] vibrancy of the black church. The black businesses that employ so many people. The opportunities that so many families are working to provide for their kids. We do always have to make sure we keep people safe. There are the right ways of doing it, then there are ways that are infective. Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional. And in part because it was infective. It did not do what it needed to do.
Now I believe in community policing. And in fact, violent crime is one half of what it was in 1991. Property crime is down 40 percent. We just don't want to see it creep back up. We've had 25 years of very good cooperation, but there were some problems, some unintended consequences. Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for non-violent offenses, and it's just a fact that if you're a young African-American man, and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated.
So we've got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We can't just say "law and order." We have to say, we have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system. Deal with mandatory minimum sentences which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little. We need more second chance programs. I'm glad we're ending prisons. There are some positive ways we can work on this. And I believe strongly that common sense gun safety measures would assist us right now.
And this is something Donald has supported, along with the gun lobby, right now, we've got too many military-style weapons on the streets in a lot of places. Our police are outgunned. We have comprehensive background checks, and we need to keep guns out of the hands of those who will do harm, and we finally need to pass a prohibition on anyone who's on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun. If you're too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun. So there are things that we can do, and we ought to do it in a bipartisan way.
Holt: You said we need do everything possible to improve policing to go right at implicit bias. Do you think police are implicitly biased against black people?
Clinton: I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other. And therefore I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions about, why am I feeling this way?
But when it comes to policing, since it can have literally, fatal consequences, I have said in my first budget, we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias, by retraining a lot of our police officers. I've met with a group of very distinguished, experienced police chiefs a few weeks ago. They admit it's an issue.
They've got a lot of concerns. Mental health is one of the biggest concern, because now police are having to handle a lot of really difficult mental health problems on the street. They want support. They want more training. They want more assistance. And I think the federal government could be in a position where we would offer and provide that.
Trump: I'd like to respond to that. Police. First of all, I agree, and a lot of people even within my own party want to give certain rights to people on watch lists and no fly lists. A person is on a watch list or no-fly list, and I have the endorsement of the NRA. But we have to look very strongly at no-fly lists and watch lists, and when people are on there, even if they shouldn't be on there, we'll help them legally, we'll help them get off , but I tend to agree with that.
But I want to bring up the fact that you were the one who brought up the term super predator about young black youth. And that's a term that's been horribly met. I think you've apologized for it. But I think it was a terrible thing to say, and when it comes to stop and frisk, you know, you're talking about taking guns away, I'm talking about taking guns away from gangs and people that use them. And I don't really think you disagree with me on this if you want to know the truth.
Maybe there's a political reason why you can't say it, but I really don't believe — in New York City we had 2,200 murders and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five-hundred is a lot of murders, hard to believe, like 500 is supposed to be good? But we went from 2,200 to 500, and it was continued on by [former New York] Mayor Bloomberg, discontinued by the current mayor. So when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very, very big impact.
Clinton: It's also fair to say, if we're going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders.
Trump: You're wrong.
Clinton: No, I'm not.
Trump: Murders are up. You check it.
Clinton: I give credit, across the board, going back two mayors, two police chiefs, because it has worked. And other communities need to come together to do what will work as well. Look, one murder is too many. But it is important that we learn from things that were effective but not from things that sound good but don't have the impact that we would want. Who disagrees with keeping neighborhoods safe, but let's also add, no one should disagree about respecting the rights of young men who live in those neighborhoods. So we need to do a better job of working, again, with the communities, faith communities, business communities, as well as the police, to try to deal with this problem.
Holt: This conversation is about race.
Trump: I'd like to respond if I might.
Holt: Please respond, then I have a follow up question.
Trump: Look, the African-American community has been let down by our politicians. They talk good around election time, like right now. And after the election they say see you later, I'll see you in four year of the African American community, they've been abused and used in order to get votes by Democrats and politicians.
They've controlled these communities for up to 100 years. I'll tell you, you look at the inner cities, and I left Detroit and Philadelphia and you've seen me. I've been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that's okay. But I will tell you. I've been all over, and I've met some of the greatest people I'll ever meet within these communities, and they are very, very upset with what their politicians have told them and what their politicians have done.
Clinton: I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that's a good thing.
Holt: Mr. Trump, for five years you've perpetuated a false claim of the nation's first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy.
In the last couple weeks you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years, the president was born in the united States, can you tell us what took you so long?
Trump: I'll tell you, very simple to say. Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and close are, very close friend of secretary Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patty Doyle, went to, during the campaign, her campaign against Obama — Patty Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer, saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter to Kenya to find out about it.
They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate. When I got involved, I didn't fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. So I'm satisfied with it, and I'll tell you why I'm satisfied with it, because I want to get on to defeating ISIS. Because I want to get on to creating jobs. Because I want to get on to having a strong border. Because I want to get on to things that are very important to me, and that are very important to the country.
Holt: I'll let you respond, it's important, but I just want to get answer — the birth certificate was produced in 2011. You continued to tell the story and question the president's legitimacy in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, as recently as January. So the question is, what changed your mind?
Trump: Well, nobody was pressing it. Nobody was caring much about it figured you'd asked question tonight, but I was one that got them to produce the birth certificate, and I think I did a good job. Secretary Clinton also fought it, you know everyone in mainstream's going to say that's not true. It's true. Sidney Blumenthal sent the reporter. You just have to take a look at CNN, the interview with your former campaign manager, and she was involved. But just like she can't bring back jobs, she can't produce.
Holt: I'm sorry, I will let you respond to that. There's a lot there. But we're talking about racial healing in this statement.
Trump: I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it. He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing, but when you talk about healing, I think that I've developed very, very good relationships, over the last little while with the African-American community, I think you can see that. And I feel that they really wanted me to come to that conclusion, and I think I did a great job and a great service, not only for the country, but even for the president in getting him to produce his birth certificate.
Holt: Secretary Clinton?
Clinton: Well, just listen to what you heard. [ Laughter ] And clearly, as Donald just admitted, he knew he was going to stand on this debate stage and Lester holt was going to be asking us questions, so he tried to put the whole racist/birther lie to bed, but it can't be dismissed that easily. He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted.
He persisted year after year, because some of his supporters, people that he was trying to bring into his fold, apparently believed it or wanted to believe it. But remember, Donald started his career back in 1973, being sued by the justice department for racial discrimination.
Because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans, and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy.
He actually was sued twice by the justice department. So he has a long record of engaging in racist behavior. And the birther lie was a very hurtful one. And you know, Barack Obama is a man of great dignity. And I could tell how much it bothered him and annoyed him that this was being touted and used against him, but I like to remember what Michelle Obama said in her amazing speech at our democratic national convention. When they go low, we go high. And Barack Obama went high. Despite Donald Trump's best efforts to bring him down.
Holt: Mr. Trump, you can respond. And we're going to move on to the next segment.
Trump: I'd like that respond. I got to watch in preparing for your debates for Barack Obama you treated him with terrible disrespect. And I watch the way you talk now about how lovely everything is. It doesn't work that way. Were you after him, you were trying to, you even sent out pictures of him in a certain garb, very famous pictures, I don't think you can deny that. But just last week your campaign manager said it was true. So when you try to act holier than thou, it really doesn't work. As far as the lawsuit, yes, when I was very young, I went into my father's company.
And we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country were sued. We settled the suit with no admission of guilt. Zero. I notice the nasty commercials that you do on me in so many different ways, which I don't do on you, maybe I'm trying to save the money, but frankly, I look at that, and I say, isn't that amazing, because I settled that lawsuit, with no admission of guilt. But that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it's just one of those things, I'll go one step further. In Palm Beach, Florida, tough community, a brilliant community, probably the wealthiest in the world. I opened a club, and really got great credit for it. No discrimination against African-Americans, against Muslims, against anybody.
And it's a tremendously successful club, and I'm so glad I did it, and I have been given great credit for what I did. And I'm very, very proud of it. And that's the way I feel. That is the true way I feel.
Holt: Our next segment is called securing America. We want to start with a 21st century war happening every day in this country, our institutions are under cyber attack, and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is who's behind it and how do we fight it? Secretary Clinton, this goes to you.
Clinton: I think cyber security, cyber warfare will be one of the greatest challenges facing the next president, because clearly we're facing at this point, two different kinds adversaries. There are the independent hacking groups that do it mostly for commercial reasons to try to steal information that they then can use to make money. But increasingly, we are seeing cyberattacks coming from states.
The most recent and troubling of these has been Russia. There's no doubt now that Russia has used cyberattacks against all kinds of organizations in our country, and I am deeply concerned about this. I know Donald very pie, praiseworthy of Vladimir Putin.
But Putin is playing a very tough, long game here. And one of the things he's done is to let loose cyber attackers to hack into government files, to personal files, the democratic national committee. And we recently learned that this is one of their preferred methods of trying to wreak havoc and collect information. We need to make it very clear, whether it's Russia, China, Iran, or anybody else, the United States has much greater capacity.
And we are not going to sit idly by and permit state actors to go after our information, our private sector information or our public sector information, and we're going to have to make it clear that we don't want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don't want to engage in a different kind of warfare.
But we will defend the citizens of this country, and the Russians need to understand that. I think they've been treating it as almost a probing, how far would we go? How much would we do? And that's why I was so, I was so shocked when Donald publicly invited Putin to hack into Americans. That is, that is just unacceptable. It's one of the reasons why 50 national security officials who served in Republican information, administration have said that Donald is unfit to be the commander in chief. It's comments like that that really worry people who understand the threats that we face.
Holt: Mr. Trump, you have two minutes in the same question.
Trump: I do want to say that I was just endorsed and more are coming next week, it will be over 200 admirals. Many of them are here, admirals and generals endorsed me to lead this country. That just happened. And many more are coming. And I'm very proud of it. In addition, I was just endorse the by ice. So when Secretary Clinton talks about I'll take the admirals and generals any day over the political hacks.
Look at the mess that we're in. Look at the mess that we're in. As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what secretary Clinton said, we should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we're not. I don't know if we know it was Russia who broke into the DNC.
She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. It could also be China, it could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. You don't know who broke into DNC, but what did we learn? We learn that Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of by your people. By Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Look what happened to her. But Bernie Sanders was taken advantage of. Now, whether that was Russia, whether that was China, whether it was another country, we don't know, because the truth is, under president Obama we've lost control of things that we used to have control over. We came in with an internet, we came up with the internet.
And I think Secretary Clinton and myself would agree very much, when you look at what ISIS is doing with the internet, they're beating us at our own game. ISIS. So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a, it is a huge problem.
I have a son. He's 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it's unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it's hardly do-able. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing, but that's true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better, Lester and certainly cyber is one of them.
Holt: Secretary Clinton?
Clinton: Well, I think there are a number of issues that we should be addressing. I have put forth a plan to defeat ISIS. It does involve going after them online.
I think we need do much more with our tech companies to prevent ISIS and their operatives from being able to use the internet, to radicalize, even direct people in our country and Europe and elsewhere, but we also have to intensify our airstrikes against ISIS and eventually support our Arab and Kurdish partners to be able to actually take out ISIS in Raqqa and their [inaudible] of being a caliphate.
We're making progress. Our military is assisting in Iraq. And we're hoping within a year we'll be able to push them out of Iraq and really squeeze them in Syria. But we have to be cognizant of the fact that they've had foreign fighters coming to volunteer for them, foreign money, foreign weapons, so we have to make this the top priority.
And I would also do everything possible to take out their leadership. I was involved in a number efforts to take out Al Qaeda leadership when I was secretary of state, including of course taking out bin laden, and I think we need to go after Baghdadi as well, make that one of our organizing principles. Because we've got to defeat ISIS and do everything we can to disrupt their propaganda efforts online.
Holt: You mentioned ISIS, and we think of ISIS certainly as "Over there", but there are American citizens who have been inspired to commit acts of terror on American soil. For instance the recent attacks in New Jersey and New York and deadly attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando. Tell us specifically how you would prevent home-grown attacks by American citizens. Mr. Trump?
Trump: First I have to say one thing very important. Secretary Clinton is talking about taking out ISIS. We will take out ISIS. Well, president Obama and secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out, they shouldn't have been in, but once they got in, the way think got — they got out was a disaster. She's been trying to take them out for a long time. But they wouldn't even have been formed if they left some troops behind. Like 10,000 or maybe something more than that.
And then you wouldn't have had them. Or, as I've been saying for a long time, and I think you'll agree, because I said it to you once, had we taken the oil, and we should have taken the oil, ISIS would not have been able to form either, because the oil was their primary source of income. And now they have the oil all over the place, including the oil, a lot of the oil in Libya. Which was another one of her disasters.
Clinton: Secretary Clinton?
Clinton: Well, I hope the fact checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard. Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.
Clinton: That is absolutely --
Clinton: Proved over and over again.
Clinton: He actually advocated for the actions we took in Libya and urged that Gaddafi be taken out after actually doing some business with him one time. But the larger point, he says this constantly, is George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq.
Not Barack Obama. And the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then Iraqi government that would have protected our troops. And the Iraqi government would not give that. But let's talk about the question you asked, Lester.
The question you asked is what do we do here in the united States. That's the most important part of this. How do we prevent attacks. How do we protect our people? And I think we've got to have an intelligent surge, where we are looking for every scrap of information. I was so proud of law enforcement in New York, in Minnesota, in New Jersey, you know, they responded so quickly, so professionally to the attacks that occurred I and they brought him down. And we may find out more information because he is still alive, which may be an intelligence benefit.
So we need to do everything we can to vacuum up intelligence from the Middle East, from Europe, that means we have to work more closely with our allies, and that is something that Donald has been very dismissive of. We're working with nato, the longest military alliance in the history of the world to turn our attention to the Middle East.
Our Muslim majority nations, Donald has consistently insulted muslims abroad, muslims at home, when we need to be cooperating with Muslim nations and with the American Muslim community. They're on the front lines. They can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else. They need to have close, working, cooperation with law enforcement in these communities. Not be alienated and pushed away as some of Donald's rhetoric, unfortunately, has led to.
Trump: Well, I'd have to respond.
Trump: The secretary said I have strongly about working with, we've been working with them for many years, and we have the greatest mess anyone's ever seen. Under your direction, to a large extent. But you look at the Middle East.
You started the Iran deal. That's another beauty where you have a country that was ready to fall, they were doing so badly. They were choking on the sanctions, and now they're probably going to be a major power at some point the way they're going. But when you look at NATO, I was asked on a major show. You have to understand I'm a business person, I did well, but I have common sense.
I said well, I'll tell you, I haven't given lots of thought to nato, many of them aren't paying their fair share. That bothers me, because yes, we're defending them, they should be at least paying us what they are supposed to be paying by treaty and contract. And number two, I said in very strongly, NATO could be obsolete, because, and I was very strong on this, and it was actually covered very accurately in the New York Times, which is unusual for the New York Times, to be honest, but I said they do not focus on terror. And I was very strong. And I said it numerous times.
And about four months ago, I read on the front page of the Wall Street journal that NATO is opening up a major terror division, and I think that's great. And I think we should get, because we pay approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO. It's a lot of money to protect other people. But I'm all for NATO. But I said they have to focus on terror also. And they're going to do that. And that was, believe me, I'm sure I'm not going to get credit for it, but that was largely because of what I was saying and my criticism of NATO.
I think we have to get nato to go into the Middle East with us. In addition to surrounding nations, and we have to knock the hell out of ISIS. And we have to it fast. When ISIS formed in this vacuum created by Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton, and believe me, you were the ones that took out the troops. Not only that, you named the day. They sat back and —
Clinton: We've covered this ground.
Trump: When they formed, this is something that never should have happened. It should never happened. Now you're talking about taking out ISIS. But you were there, and you were secretary of state when it was a little infant. Now it's in over 30 countries, and you're going to stop them? I don't think so.
Holt: Mr. Trump, a lot of these judgment questions. You supported the War in Iraq.
Trump: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media. Would you like to hear? I was against the war, wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.
Clinton: The record shows otherwise, but.
Trump: It does not show that. The record shows that I'm right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anybody's asked me, I said who knows. Essentially, I then did an interview Neil Cavuto. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox, and he called me the other day and I spoke to him about it. He said you were totally, because he was for the war.
Holt: Why --
Trump: And that is before the war started. Sean Hannity said very strongly, to me and other people, he's willing to say, but nobody wants to call him, I was against the war. He said you used to have fights with me, because Sean was in favor of the war. And I understand that side also. Not very much, because we should have never been there, but nobody called Sean Hannity. And then they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started. I think in '04. But they did an article, which had me totally against the War in Iraq.
And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, trump was, because if you read this article, there's no doubt. But if somebody, and I'll ask the press, if somebody would call up Sean Hannity, this was before the war started. He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said it's a terrible and a stupid thing. It's going to destabilize the Middle East. And that exactly what this's done.
Holt: My reference is to what you said in 2002.
Trump: You didn't hear what I said.
Holt: Why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton's?
Trump: I have better judgment, I also have a much better temperament than she does, you know? I have a much better. She spent, let me tell you. She spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising, you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room. Temperament, let's go after. I think my strongest asset, maybe by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not.
Holt: Secretary —
Trump: The AFL-CIO, the other day, behind the blue screen, I don't know who you were talking to, Secretary, Clinton, but you were totally out of control. I said there's a person with a temperament that's got a problem.
Holt: Secretary Clinton?
Clinton: Woo, okay. [ Laughter ] Let's talk about two important issues that were briefly mentioned by Donald. First, NATO. NATO, as a military alliance, has something called Article V. And basically it says this. An attack on one is an attack on all. And do you know the only time it's ever been invoked after 9/11.
When the 28 nations said that they would go to Afghanistan with us to fight terrorism. Something that they still are doing by our side. With respect to Iran, when I became secretary of state Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb. They had mastered the nuclear fuel cycle under the bush administration. They had built covert facilities, stocked them with centrifuges that were whirling away. And we had sanctioned them. I voted for every sanction against Iran when I was in the senate, but it wasn't enough.
So I spent a year and a half putting together a coalition that included Russia and China, to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran, and we did drive them to the negotiating table. And my successor, John Kerry and President Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran's nuclear program. Without firing a single shot. That's diplomacy. That's coalition building. That's working with other nations. The other day I saw Donald saying that there were some Iranian sailors on a ship in the waters off of Iran, and they were taunting American sailors who were on a nearby ship. He said, you know, if they taunted our sailors, I'd blow them out of the water and start another war. That's —
Trump: That would not start a war.
Clinton: That's bad judgment. That is not the right temperament to be commander in chief, to be taunted and the worst part —
Trump: They were taunting us —
Clinton: I heard Donald say has been about nuclear weapons. He has said repeatedly he didn't care if other countries got nuclear weapon, Japan, Saudi Arabia. It has been the policy of the United States, Republicans and Democrats to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He even said if there were nuclear war in east Asia, that's fine, you know.
Clinton: Have a good time, folks.
Trump: That's lies.
Clinton: And in fact, his cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons is so deeply troubling. That is the number one threat we face in the world, and it particularly threatening if terrorists get their hands on a nuclear weapon. So a man who can be as easily tweaked should not have his hands anywhere near the nuclear codes.
Trump: This argument is getting a little old.
Clinton: It's a good one, though, well describes the problem.
Trump: It's not an accurate one at all. Not an accurate one. I want to give a lot of things. I agree with her on one thing. The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons. Not global warming, like you think and your president thinks. Nuclear is the greatest threat. Just to go down the list, we defend Japan. We defend Germany. We defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us, because we are providing tremendous service and losing a fortune. We lose on everything. I say who makes these? We lose on everything. What I said, it's very possible that if they don't pay a fair share, because this is isn't 40 years ago where we could do what we're doing. We can't defend Japan, a behemoth selling us cars by the millions.
Holt: We need to move on.
Trump: All I said is they may have to defend themselves or help us out. We're a country that owes $20 trillion. They have to help us out. Nuclear is concerned, I agree. It is the single greatest threat.
Holt: Which leads to the last subject. We're on the subject of securing America. On nuclear war, President Obama considered changing the policy on first use. Do you support that?
Trump: I have to say, what Secretary Clinton was saying about nuclear aggression. Russia has been expanding there, they have a much newer capability than we do. We have not been updating from the new standpoint. I looked the other night, I was seeing B-52s that your father, your grandfather could be flying them. We are not keeping up with other countries. I'd like everybody to end it, just get rid of it, but I would certainly not do first strike. I think once the nuclear alternative happens, it's over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can't take anything off the table. Because you look at some of these countries. You look at North Korea, we're doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us. China should go into north Korea, China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.
And by the way, another one is the worst deal, I think, I've ever seen negotiated that you started as the Iran deal — Iran is one of their biggest trading partners. Iran has power over North Korea. And when they made that horrible deal with Iran, they ought to have included the fact that they do something with respect to North Korea and Yemen and all these other places, and when asked of Secretary Kerry, why didn't you do that? One [inaudible] of all time, including $400 million in cash. Nobody's ever seen that of about, that turned out to be wrong, it was actually $1.7 billion in cash. Obviously, I guess for the hostages, it certainly looks that way. Why didn't they make the right deal? This is one of the worse deal the made by any country in history. The deal with Iran will lead to nuclear problems, all they have to do is sit back 10 years, and they don't have to do much. I met with [Prime Minister of Israel] Bibi Netanyahu. He's not a happy camper.
Clinton: Let me start by saying words matter. Words matter when you run for president, and they really matter when you are president.
We have mutual defense treaties, and we will honor them. It is essential that America's word be good. And so I know that this campaign has caused some questioning and some worries on the part of many leaders across the globe. I've talked with a number of them. But I want to, on behalf of myself and, I think on behalf of a majority of the American people say that, you know, our word is good. It's also important that we look at the entire globe situation.
There's no doubt that we have other problems with Iran, but personally, I'd rather deal with the other problems having put that lid on their nuclear program than still to be facing that. And Donald never tells you what he would do. Would he have started a war? Would he have bombed Iran? If he's going to criticize a deal that has been very successful in giving us access to Iranian facilities that we never had before, then he should tell us what his alternative would be. But it's like his plan to defeat ISIS. He says it's a secret plan, but the only secret is that he has no plan. So we need to be more precise in how we talk about these issues.
People around the world follow our presidential campaigns so closely, trying to get hints about what we will do. Can they rely on us? Are we going to lead the world with strength on our values? That's what I intend to do. I intend to be a leader of our country that people can count on both here at home and around the world to make decisions that will further peace and prosperity but also stand up to bullies, whether they're abroad or at home. We cannot let those who would try to destabilize the world, to interfere with American interests and security —
Holt: Two minutes is expired.
Trump: One thing I'd like to say.
Holt: Very quickly.
Trump: But I will tell you, Hillary tell you to go to her website and read all about how to defeat ISIS. Right now it's getting tougher and tougher to defeat them, because they're in more and more places and it's a big problem, and as far as Japan is concerned, I want to help all of our allies. But we are losing billions and billions of dollars. We cannot be the policeman of the world. We cannot protect countries all over the world.
Holt: We have just a —
Trump: Where they're not paying us what we need.
Holt: We have just a few final questions.
Trump: She didn't say that, because she has no business ability. We need heart, we need a lot of things, but you have to have some basic ability. And sadly, she doesn't have that. All of the things that she's talking about could have been taken care of during the last 10 years, let's say, while she has great power, but they weren't taken care. And if she ever wins this race, they won't be taken care of.
Holt: This year, Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated from a major party. Earlier you said she doesn't have a presidential look, she's standing here what did you mean by that?
Trump: She doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina. I said shy doesn't have the stamina, and I don't believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.
Holt: The quote was I just don't think she has a presidential look.
Trump: Did you ask me a question? You have to be able to negotiate our trade deals. You have to be able to negotiate. That's right. With Japan, with Saudi Arabia. I mean, can you imagine, we're defending Saudi Arabia and with all of the money they have, we're defending them, and they're not paying, all you have to do is speak to them. You have so many different things, you have to be able to do, and I don't believe that Hillary has the stamina.
Holt: Let's let her respond.
Clinton: Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.
Trump: The world. [Cheers and applause] Let me tell you. Let me tell you. Hillary has experience, but it's bad experience. We have made so many bad deals during the last — [cheers and applause] So she has experience I agree. But it's bad experience, whether it's the Iran deal you're so in love with where we gave them $150 billion back.You almost can't name a good deal. She's got experience, but it's bad experience. And this country can't afford to have another four years of that kind of bad experience. [Cheers and applause]
Holt: We are at the final question.
Clinton: One thing, Lester. He tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs. And someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said —
Trump: I never said that.
Clinton: Women don't deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men. And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called they woman Ms. Piggy. Then he called her Ms. Housekeeping, because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
Trump: Where did you find this?
Clinton: She has become a US Citizen, and you can bet, she's going to vote this November.
Trump: Let me just tell you.
Holt: Ten seconds.
Trump: Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it's in entertainment. Somebody who's been very tough to me, Rosie O'Donnell. But you want to know the truth? I was going to say something --
Holt: Please, very quickly.
Trump: Extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate. It's not nice. But she's hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads even me, many of which are untrue, and they're misrepresentations, and I will tell you this, Lester, it's not nice, and I don't deserve that, but it's certainly not a nice thing that she's done. Hundreds of millions of ads. The only gratifying thing is I, and with $200 million spent, and I'm either winning or tied.
Holt: One of you will not win this election, are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voters?
Clinton: I support our democracy. And sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. But I certainly will support the outcome of this election. And I know Donald's trying very hard to plant doubts about it. It's not about us so much as it is about you and your families and the kind of country and future you want. So I sure hope you will get out and vote as though your future depended on it because it does.
Holt: Will you accept the outcome as the will of the voters?
Trump: I want to make America great again. The other day we were deporting 800 people. Perhaps they pressed the wrong button, or perhaps worse than that, it was corruption. These people we were going to deport ended up becoming citizens. End the up becoming citizens, and it's 800, and now it turns out, it might be 1,800, and they don't even know.
Holt: Will you accept the outcome of the election?
Trump: I'm going to make America great again. I will be able to do it. If she wins, I will absolutely support her.
Holt: That is going to do it for us. That concludes our debate for this evening, a spirited one. We covered a lot of ground. Not everything as I suspected we would. The next presidential debates are scheduled for October 9th at Washington University in St. Louis and October 19th at the University of Las Vegas. A vice presidential debate is October 4th in Farmville, Virginia. Many thanks to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Hofstra University for hosting us tonight, good night, everyone.