Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off Monday night in one of the most anticipated debates in US history. The debate was held at Hofstra University on Long Island and moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt. Throughout the 90-minute, often antagonistic, debate, Clinton and Trump sparred on everything from foreign policy to trade deals to personal stamina. But third-party candidates, including Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, were excluded from the debate stage under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. For more, we air excerpts from the presidential debate and get response from Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: While the Green Party’s Jill Stein was escorted off the campus at Hofstra, what would it sound like if she actually participated in the debate? Well, today, as is our tradition, Democracy Now! expands the debate. Debate moderator Lester Holt will ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump questions. After their responses, we stop the tape to give Dr. Jill Stein a chance to answer the same question from her own podium. We invited Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson to join us, as well, but he couldn’t make it. NBC News host Lester Holt, take it away.
LESTER HOLT: 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 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.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, I’ll start just by thanking Democracy Now! for holding a real debate, which the American people are clamoring for. Over 75 percent of Americans are saying they want an open debate. The two candidates of the establishment parties are the most disliked and untrusted in our history, so we owe the American people a full debate.
On this question of prosperity, I think Donald Trump knows what he’s talking about, about the offshoring of jobs, because, in fact, Donald Trump has offshored all of his jobs, aside from his real estate. All of the products that he manufactures and markets, in fact, are produced offshore. And he, in fact, has been an advocate of closing factories, moving them offshore or down south, and then moving them back — in this case, to Michigan — so that workers’ wages could be suppressed. So, indeed, he does exemplify the very problem that he is talking about.
The prosperity issue has really reached crisis proportions, because prosperity has gone to the top, not to American workers who are struggling. Half of Americans are basically in poverty or near poverty and struggling to survive. So we need truly transformative solutions. This won’t be solved around the margins.
My campaign is calling for a Green New Deal, which is an emergency jobs program that will create 20 million good-wage, living-wage jobs as part of solving the emergency of climate change. So we — we call for 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030, in time to actually solve the climate crisis. And in doing so, we would revive the economy, turn the tide on climate change and actually improve our health so much by phasing out fossil fuels, which in fact kill 200,000 people every year and cause lots more illness in addition to that, but we gain so much money by saving on these needless sick care expenditures that that savings alone is enough to pay the costs of the Green New Deal.
And in addition, 100 percent renewable energy makes wars for oil obsolete. And we call for cutting the military budget from this bloated, dangerous budget, in fact, which is bankrupting us, and putting our dollars into true security here at home.
AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton?
HILLARY CLINTON: I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports that help to create more new jobs.
LESTER HOLT: Very quickly —
DONALD TRUMP: But you haven’t done it in 30 years or 26 years, any number you want to —
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve been a senator, Donald.
DONALD TRUMP: You haven’t done it. You haven’t done it.
HILLARY CLINTON: And I have been a secretary of state.
DONALD TRUMP: And excuse me.
HILLARY CLINTON: And I have done a lot —
DONALD TRUMP: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that’s your opinion. That is your opinion.
DONALD TRUMP: You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacture 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. Then you heard what I was saying, how bad it is, and you said, “I can’t win that debate.” But you know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that — that is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about that in —
DONALD TRUMP: You called it the gold standard.
HILLARY CLINTON: I wrote about — well, I hope — I —
DONALD TRUMP: You called it the gold standard of trade deals.
HILLARY CLINTON: And you know what?
DONALD TRUMP: You said it’s the finest deal you’ve ever seen.
HILLARY CLINTON: No.
DONALD TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden you were against it.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality —
DONALD TRUMP: Oh, yeah.
HILLARY CLINTON: — 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 —
DONALD TRUMP: Not.
HILLARY CLINTON: — which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn’t. I wrote about that in my book —
DONALD TRUMP: So is it President Obama’s fault?
HILLARY CLINTON: — before you even announced.
DONALD TRUMP: Is it President Obama’s fault?
HILLARY CLINTON: Look, there are different — there —
DONALD TRUMP: Secretary, is it President Obama’s fault?
HILLARY CLINTON: There are different —
DONALD TRUMP: Because he’s pushing it.
HILLARY CLINTON: There are different views about what’s 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 —
DONALD TRUMP: But you have no plan.
HILLARY CLINTON: — but in — oh, I do. In fact, I have written —
DONALD TRUMP: Secretary, you have no plan.
AMY GOODMAN: Jill Stein?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, clearly more heat than light coming out of much of the discussion in last night’s debate. In addition to establishing an emergency jobs program, we need to do another major initiative, and that is to end the predatory student loan debt, which has basically held an entire generation hostage, unable to actually participate in the economy and create a decent future for themselves. So we call for bailing out the students, as the Democrats and Republicans bailed out Wall Street. After Wall Street had crashed the economy through their waste, fraud, and abuse, we say it’s about time to bail out the victims of that abuse. This would be the stimulus package of our dreams, to unleash an entire generation that is already trained. They have the skills. They have the passion and the vision. They need to be turned loose by canceling that debt.
There are many ways we can pay for it. It’s $1.3 trillion. We came up with $16 trillion to bail out Wall Street when they needed it. We can pay for ending student debt by creating a small tax on Wall Street, for example, or by increasing the income tax on the highest bracket of earners up to, say, 60 or 65 percent. We also call for making higher education free, because, in fact, it pays for itself. For every dollar that we put into higher education, in fact, we get back $7 in return in improved benefits and in actual increased revenues. So, we simply cannot afford not to make public higher education free.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Jill Stein, joining Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Democracy Now!’s special, “Expanding the Debate,” based on last night’s debate at Hofstra University, the first presidential debate. This is Democracy Now! This is what democracy sounds like. Back with the debate in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to our “Expanding the Debate” special, as we air excerpts from the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and expand the debate by giving Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein a chance to respond to the same questions posed to the major-party candidates. NBC News anchor Lester Holt, take it away.
LESTER HOLT: I want to move to our next segment. We move into our next segment talking about America’s direction. And let’s start by talking 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 of African Americans by police, as we’ve seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. 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? Secretary Clinton, you get two minutes on this.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, you’re right. Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much, often determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get. And, yes, it determines how they’re 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’re 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.
LESTER HOLT: All right, Mr. Trump, you have two minutes. How do you heal the divide?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, first of all, 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.
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 throughout various parts of our country, whether it’s — I mean, I can just 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. We just — just came in. We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group, very — I mean, 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 four — 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 very well in New York. It brought the crime rate 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’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant. We have to be — 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. Decimated.
LESTER HOLT: Your two minutes is — your two minutes expired.
AMY GOODMAN: Jill Stein?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, first, just to be clear, immigrants are among the most peaceful and nonviolent populations in the United States, so one should not be misled by Donald Trump’s efforts to do fear mongering and create animosity towards immigrants.
Where we need to start in addressing this crisis of police violence and the issues of the Black Lives Matter campaign, we need to begin with accountability. We need to ensure that police do not have impunity to wreak havoc in communities of color. And that needs to start with police review boards, or so-called citizen review boards, where the community actually has the ability to control their police rather than having the police control the communities. And those review boards should have the power to hire and fire police chiefs. They should also have the power of subpoena.
In addition, communities should have independent investigators who are available to look into every case of death or serious injury at the hands of police, so that every person who dies in — with — due to police actions, their family has a right to know what happened. Each case should be investigated.
And in addition, we call for a truth and reconciliation commission, because we are a society that is divided by fear, that is divided by suspicion, long-standing hatred. In fact, it’s known that when slavery was ended, it simply transformed into lynchings, which then led to Jim Crow, which then led to redlining and segregation, and then the war on drugs and then this epidemic of police violence. So there’s a long-standing and cumulative legacy of racism and violence that we must come to terms with as a society. So we call for a truth and reconciliation commission in order to truly have a conversation about race, so that we can transcend this history of division and violence and racism.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. Lester Holt?
LESTER HOLT: But I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.
DONALD 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 many places where it’s allowed.
LESTER HOLT: The argument is that it’s a form of racial profiling.
DONALD TRUMP: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and that are bad people that 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. But when you look — and Chicago’s not the only — you go to Ferguson, you go to so many different places. You need better relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this. You need better relationships between the communities and the police, because in some cases it’s not good.
But you look at Dallas, where the relationships were really studied, the relationships were really 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.
LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton, you want to weigh in?
DONALD TRUMP: 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-American and Hispanic people. And it’s very unfair to them what our politicians are allowing to happen.
LESTER HOLT: Secretary Clinton?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve heard — 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.
DONALD TRUMP: Ugh.
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, 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 — there’s a lot that we should be proud of and we should be supporting and lifting up.
But we do always have to make sure we keep people safe. There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are ways that are ineffective. Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional, and in part because it was ineffective. 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 nonviolent 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 cannot 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.
AMY GOODMAN: Jill Stein?
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, let me just comment that Hillary Clinton knows what she’s talking about when she refers to the injustices and the racial biases in our criminal justice system. Indeed, it was Bill Clinton’s omnibus crime bill of the 1990s, which Hillary supported, that opened the floodgates to mass incarceration and to this assault by police and the criminal injustice system on communities of color. So, indeed, that bill, that she herself promoted, saying how we needed to, quote, “bring them to heel,” referring to African-American communities and youth, that indeed does need to be put behind us.
When Donald Trump talks about law and order, the place where law and order is most needed in our society, the place of greatest lawlessness and crime, is actually Wall Street. In fact, all the cops on the beat were laid off prior to the Wall Street crash in the years leading up to it; that is, from the Department of Justice, the FBI investigators, the security and exchange watchdogs had all been laid off. So, we call for actually bringing back the cops on the beat. Wall Street does not regulate itself. It needs people on Wall Street watching Wall Street, so we can in fact catch the crooks before they crash the economy again.
Stop-and-frisk was indeed unconstitutional and was indeed a flagrant case of racial profiling. It’s also true that it was not effective. In fact, crime rates were dropping in cities all over the country while they were also dropping in New York. So, to attribute that to stop-and-frisk, which was not causing the reduction around the country, is just wrong thinking.
And then, let me say also, regarding policing, we need to end the broken windows policing, which is confrontational, aggressive policing that results in the kinds of tragedies we saw last week, particularly with Keith Scott, who in fact was just sitting in his car reading a book. It’s disputed that he had a gun, as the police claimed, but in fact it is legal to have a gun and to carry a gun openly in North Carolina. So, this is really a classic study of the violence, the inherent violence, of this broken windows policing. Police need to be trained in de-escalation techniques. We need to be demilitarizing our police and changing the hiring practices so that police actually look like the communities that they should be a part of.
AMY GOODMAN: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, joining Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Democracy Now!’s special, “Expanding the Debate” special. And we’ll continue with it in a minute.