Sparks flew just minutes into the first presidential debate as Donald Trump went on the attack against Hillary Clinton, trying to tie her to two controversial trade deals while scolding the former Senator and Secretary of State: “You’ve been doing this for 30 years – why are you just thinking of these solutions now?”
The exchange came during the first segment of the debate, with Republican nominee Trump firmly on the offensive, forcing Clinton to explain if she supported the NAFTA trade deal passed by her husband, President Bill Clinton, and the TPP trade deal championed by her former boss, President Obama. Clinton responded to the “30 years” jab by highlighting the trade deals that she evaluated while in the senate and noting her plan, if elected president, to appoint a special prosecutor to enforce and oversee trade deals. Trump was unbowed.
“But you haven’t done it in 30 years,” he shot back. “Or 26 years. Or whatever number you want to use. You haven’t done it. You haven’t done it.”
Clinton said Trump’s assertion that NAFTA was “one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry” was “your opinion.” She also fought back when Trump mentioned her previous praise of TPP as “the gold standard” of trade deals.
“Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts,” Clinton said. “The facts are I did say I hoped it would be a good deal, but once it was negotiated, which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn’t.”
Clinton then attempted to highlight her book, “Stronger Together,” but Trump pounced on her “not responsible” remark.
“So was it President Obama’s fault?” he asked. “Is it President Obama’s fault? Secretary: Is it President Obama’s fault? He’s pushing it.”
Clinton didn’t answer directly, instead discussing “different views about what’s good for our country.”
“Secretary, you have no plan,” Trump said.
Clinton then pivoted back to saying the plan was outlined in the book she wrote.
Said Trump: “That’s about all you’ve done.”