Forget Matt Lauer. The 10 Wild Things Clinton & Trump Said at the #CommanderinChiefForum
With less than two months to go until Election Day, all eyes are on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
And what better than a jam-packed forum to show how they'd be as commander in chief?
On Wednesday night, Clinton and Trump went on live television to discuss national security, foreign policy, and veteran affairs atop the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier stationed in New York City. They faced an audience of US veterans and national viewers.
Today a lot of attention was on moderator Matt Lauer, who got slammed pretty universally for being generally incompetent. But that doesn't mean it was a total loss. Let's take a look at the bold things the two candidates said.
What do you need to be a good commander in chief?
"Steadiness, an absolute rock steadiness," Clinton said was required to be a strong commander in chief of the United States. She threw in other words, too, like "strength," "temperament," and "judgement."
Most important characteristic for a #commanderinchief? “Steadiness” "Rock steadiness mixed with strength" - Clinton
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) September 8, 2016
steadiness, mixed with strength. three cups flour. a dash vanilla. one pint resolve.
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) September 8, 2016
— Feisty??Floridian (@peddoc63) September 8, 2016
She Clinton apologized about the email scandal.
"I have said repeatedly, it was a mistake to have a personal account. I would certainly not do it again. I make no excuses for it. It was something that should not have been done."
Will this apology help those who say they distrust her over the email fiasco?
Clinton addressed how she handled classified email again.
A naval fleet officer who once had top secret sensitive material access asked her about people like him with high-level clearance can trust her with such information. He pointed out they'd be prosecuted and imprisoned.
"You know and I know classified material is designated. It is marked. There is a header so that there is no dispute at all that what is being communicated to or from someone who has that access is marked classified. And what we have here is the use of an unclassified system by hundreds of people in our government to send information that was not marked, there were no headers, there was no statement, top secret, secret, or confidential. I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate system. I took it very seriously."
She also referred to how on her travels, she'd be sure to be in a secure room with a tent over the screen showing the classified message and her, so there would be no eavesdropping possible.
Boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria?
She said defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) would be her number one goal in counterterrorism if elected president.
"We need to wage this war against ISIS from the air, on the ground, and online, in cyberspace."
Then she said there would be no American troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria where ISIS currently has a presence.
"They are not going to get ground troops. We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again. And we’re not putting ground troops into Syria. We’re going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops. So those are the kinds of decisions we have to make on a case-by-case basis."
No ground troops in Iraq ever again, Hillary says.
There are thousands of US ground troops in Iraq now.
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 8, 2016
"We're not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again." Or Syria. Except for those thousands already there, I gather.
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) September 8, 2016
She was asked about her hawkish foreign policies.
Clinton is often viewed as hawkish (basically, she likes action; possibly the idea of war) when it comes to addressing global conflict. Someone in the audience asked her what she would do with her hawkish foreign policy as president, hinting at her decisions to go into Iraq and Libya.
I view force as a last resort, not a first choice. [...] I will also be as careful as I can in making the most significant decisions any president and commander-in-chief can make about sending our men and women into harm’s way."
Voters have a choice: They can look at her history or believe in what she said.
What makes him think he'll be a good commander in chief?
"I have great judgment," Trump said.
What makes you qualified? Trump: I've built a great business. I work with international companies. I have great judgement.
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) September 8, 2016
He used an example of how he was against the war in Iraq, citing an interview where he said he was. Except the magazine interview was published after the war.
Trump: “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine in 04.” EXCEPT THE WAR STARTED IN 2003
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 8, 2016
On behalf of Esquire, would like to say that something said in an interview in 2004 is not evidence that you were against something in 2003.
— Charles P. Pierce (@ESQPolitics) September 8, 2016
He claims he knows more than the generals of the military.
Trump was asked about that time when he said he knows more about ISIS than US generals do. He answered,
"I think under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble. They have been reduced to a point where it’s embarrassing for our country. You have a force of 30,000 or so people. Nobody really knows. But probably 30,000 people."
Then within a second, he kind of flipped the script. He said he had "great faith in the military."
Trump defended a tweet possibly standing for segregation in the military.
They were discussing the issue of sexual abuse in the military. He was asked how he'd solve it. Trump said he would set up a court system within the military--which is pretty much what is in place currently.
Trump calls military sexual assault a "massive problem," says he'd "come down very, very hard on that" but leave court system w/in military.
— Sarah McCammon NPR (@sarahmccammon) September 8, 2016
"What specifically would you do about rape in the military?"
Trump: "The court system in the military is practically non-existent."
— Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) September 8, 2016
Uh, there is a court system in the military, Donald. #NBCNewsForum
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) September 8, 2016
Then an older tweet of his, saying the integration of women in the military was inevitably going to lead to sexual assault, was referred to:
26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2013
Trump defended the tweet saying, "that is a correct tweet." Something a presidential candidate can say in 2016.
Trump just came out for separating men and women in the military. He's probably going to want that one back tomorrow.
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) September 8, 2016
He was promptly asked, "does that mean the only way to fix it is to take women out of the military?" He responded:
"No, not to take them out, but something has to be happen. Right now, part of the problem is nobody gets prosecuted. You have reported and — the gentleman can tell you, you have the report of rape and nobody gets prosecuted. There are no consequence. When you have somebody that does something so evil, so bad as that, there has to be consequence for that person. You have to go after that person. Right now, nobody’s doing anything. Look at the small number of results. I mean, that’s part of the problem."
Trump praised Russian President Putin and even cited his poll numbers.
Trump had some very nice things to say about someone often seen as a dictator: Russian President Vladimir Putin. He even cited poll numbers backing Putin.
Stop what you're doing and read this entire exchange between Lauer and Trump on Putin: pic.twitter.com/W8yewpw4xh
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) September 8, 2016
He. Just. Cited. A. Dictator's. Poll. Numbers.
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) September 8, 2016
Whoah! Trump compliments Putin, "He's been a leader far more than our president." #NBCNewsForum
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) September 8, 2016
Today, it's difficult and risky to work with Russia because of their brash and bold movements on the global stage and with harsh domestic politics. Despite this, Trump thinks he'll have a good relationship with the Russians and President Putin.
Trump made us all the more confused about his immigration plan.
Trump presented a bold immigration plan last week, calling for the deportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Then, he said he'd work with undocumented immigrants who serve in the US military. It was kind of bending his hard immigration stance:
Trump: Undocumented person wanting to serve in military & stay in U.S. legally presents "very special circumstance" https://t.co/zocQY8t7x7
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 8, 2016
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 8, 2016
Well, well, what do you think of all of this?
Patrick deHahn is a freelance international news reporter, having contributed to The Atlantic online and Mic. He's worked at CNNMoney, the New York Daily News, and Voice of America. Patrick loves tweeting, reading, and grabbing coffee in either New York or Washington D.C. Tweet anything on politics or world conflict to him! Follow: @patrickdehahn.