Excerpts from the presidential debate at Hofstra University Monday night:
“The central question in this election is really what kind of country we want to be and what kind of future we’ll build together. Today is my granddaughter’s second 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.
“Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product. They’re devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them ... We have to renegotiate our trade deals, and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.
“ ... 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 all over again. I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that’s exactly what it would be.
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.
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 only because that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs.
Our country’s 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’re the best, the best ever at it. What they’re doing to us is a very, very sad thing.
Lester Holt, moderator:
How do you bring back — specifically bring back jobs, American manufacturers? How do you make them bring the jobs back?
Well, the first thing you do is don’t let the jobs leave. The companies are leaving. They’re leaving, and they’re 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. But if you think you’re going to make your air conditioners or your cars or your cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you’re wrong.
Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax 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.
That’s called business, by the way.
Independent experts have looked at what I’ve proposed and looked at what Donald’s proposed ... They’ve looked at my plans and they’ve said, OK, if we can do this, and I intend to get it done, we will have 10 million more new jobs. 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.
I did not. I did not. I do not say that.
Clinton: 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 — their debt from college at a lower rate. Those are the kinds of things that will really boost the economy.
Trump: Typical politician. All talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work.
Holt: Mr. Trump, we’re talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns. Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?
I don’t mind releasing — I’m under a routine audit. And it’ll be released. And — as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released ... I will release my tax returns — against my lawyer’s wishes — when she releases her 33,000 emails that have been deleted.
Clinton: Well, I think you’ve seen another example of bait-and- switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. 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.
Holt: He also — 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 e- mail. 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.
Trump: That was more than a mistake. That was done purposely. OK? That was not a mistake. That was done purposely. When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they’re 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 — really thinks it’s disgraceful, also.
Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap. So how do you heal the divide?
“We have to restore trust between communities and the police. Everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should respect the law. And we’ve got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
“Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words, and that’s law and order. And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.