The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was as intense as we expected. You should watch the complete video for the finer points (transcript here), but if you just want to read the sharpest, jabbiest, pithiest barbs, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the seven hardest punches thrown Monday night:
1. Trump: “Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry. You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation.” Trump was on his firmest footing at the start of the debate talking about trade, hammering the legs of Bill Clinton’s legacy as Hillary tried to lean on it. Lines like this one delivered with emphatic passion for Rust Belt workers were the Republican candidate’s strongest moments.
2. Clinton: “I have a feeling by the end of this evening I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened.” After being struck by Trump on a few topics, this was an effective lifeline quip that re-framed his criticism as part of an overall strategy for painting the former Secretary of State as responsible for things far beyond her control (such as, most notably, ISIS; Trump claimed the 68-year-old candidate has been fighting the terror group her “entire adult life”).
3. Trump couldn’t have known how effectively he was setting up Clinton while discussing race issues and taking a shot at Clinton’s recent travel schedule: “I just left Detroit, and I just left Philadelphia. I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home.” That gave Clinton the opening to fire back with this boom-stick: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”
4. Trump gave a backhanded dismissal of Clinton’s detailed economic plan with this summerizing putdown featured a cadence that sounded like it could have been said by George H.W. Bush: “Typical politician. All talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work. Never going to happen.”
5. This one goes to moderator Lester Holt. When Trump tried to make it sound like he stopped accusing President Obama of not being born in America after Obama produced his birth certificate in 2011, Holt went into fact-check mode with extra-detailed gusto: “I will let you respond. It’s important. But I just want to get the answer here. The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You’ve continued to tell the story and question the president’s legitimacy in 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15 [and] as recently as January. So the question is, what changed your mind?”
6. Trump accused Clinton of not having the “stamina” to be president after her recent health woes. In fact, he said it four times, trying to drill home the word: “She doesn’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. I don’t believe she does have the stamina. You have to be able to negotiate our trade deals …I don’t believe that Hillary has the stamina.” Clinton clearly had this response ready to fire, but it still packed a wallop that made her supporters in the audience break the no-applause rule: “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.”
7. Right on top of that, Clinton fired another strong shot when she attacked Trump for insulting a beauty contest pageant contestant. This one was particularly effective because it showed Clinton defending a regular person instead of just herself: “… one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado. And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she’s going to vote this November.”
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