Here is the full transcript of the first Presidential Debate: Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton. This event occurred on September 26, 2016 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Speakers at the event:
Lester Holt – NBC News (Moderator)
Hillary Clinton – Democratic nominee for president of the United States
Donald Trump – Republican nominee for president of the United States
Right click to download the MP3 audio:
Lester Holt – NBC News (Moderator)
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 tonight are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This debate is sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. 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 topic areas 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 each have up to two minutes to respond.
From that point until the end of the segment, we’ll have an open discussion. The questions are mine and 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.
Hillary Clinton: How are you, Donald?
Lester Holt: Good luck to you.
Well, I don’t expect us to cover all 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 incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation. However, income inequality remains significant, and nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
Beginning with you, Secretary Clinton, why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers?
Hillary Clinton: Well, 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 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. 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.
Lester 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’re going to Mexico. They’re going to many other countries. 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. And we have a very good fight. And we have a winning fight. Because they’re 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’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants. With the United States, as he said, not so much. So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re 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 left — fired 1,400 people. They’re 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% to 15% 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.
Lester Holt: Secretary Clinton, would you like to respond?
Hillary Clinton: Well, I think that trade is an important issue. Of course, we are 5% of the world’s population; we have to trade with the other 95%. 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 all over again. In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percent of the people in this country than 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-businessman. He worked really hard. He printed drapery fabrics on long tables, where he pulled out those fabrics and he went down with a silkscreen and dumped the paint in and took the squeegee 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.
Lester Holt: Let me follow up with Mr. Trump, again. You’ve talked about creating 25 million jobs, and you’ve promised to bring back millions of jobs for Americans. How are you 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?