Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tore down another wall for women Monday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York when she clashed with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the 2016 election season’s first presidential debate. Clinton, who in July became the first woman nominated to run for president by a major political party in U.S.history, became the first woman to take part in a presidential debate.
Clinton and Trump began cordially enough — she walked onstage wearing a red pantsuit, while Trump sported a dark suit and a blue tie — with the two shaking hands and greeting one another with wide smiles. The moment hearkened back to another simpler time, some 10 years ago, immortalized in a famous photo, when Clinton attended Trump’s wedding. The pleasantries, however, did not last long.
The two attacked one another, often ignoring debate moderator Lester Holt to the point where some observers said he seemed invisible. Trump awkwardly made a spectacle out of addressing his opponent as “Secretary Clinton,” a reference to her tenure as U.S. secretary of state, in the first few moments of the debate. After that, on numerous occasions, Trump interrupted Clinton as she tried to answer, a behavior men seem to be especially prone to exhibiting. One tally counted 25 Trump interruptions in the first 26 minutes of the debate. (It’s worth noting that Trump routinely interrupted his male opponents during the 11 Republican primary debates). As the debate wore on, Trump became increasingly agitated, but there were relatively no major gender issues or topics to arise until near the very end of the debate.
Holt questioned Trump on a statement he made earlier this month about Clinton not having a “presidential look.” Trump deflected the question by insisting he meant Clinton didn’t have the stamina to be president. Here’s a highlight of the first portion of Clinton’s response, in which she discussed her rigorous travel schedule while secretary of state.
Then, Clinton unleashed a bombshell attack on Trump, calling into question the sexist language he’s used while discussing women over the years, and revealing an anecdote that many may not have been previously familiar with. Clinton told the story of 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado, then of Venezuela. Machado won the beauty pageant, which was owned and judged by none other than Donald Trump. Machado claims Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeper,” a disparaging reference to her Latina ethnicity, according to NBC News. Watch a highlight below.
As Clinton mentioned, Machado recently became a U.S. citizen and will be voting in her first presidential election in November. NBC News reports that Trump also once called her an “eating machine,” so it is not the least bit surprising that when she goes to the polls in about 50 days, she’ll pull the lever for Hillary Clinton. Machado has become an outspoken public supporter of Clinton, using her social media presence to stump for the nominee. Trump never saw the attack coming. “Where did you find this?” he asked incredulously.
Trump also used the occasion to defend some of the harsh language he’s used in the past to describe Rosie O’Donnell.
The debate ended with Trump vowing that if Clinton wins the election, becoming the first woman president in American history, he would indeed support her.
Clinton, in a deft move to appeal to young, internet savvy voters, turned her campaign website into a fact-checking site for the event, where people could look up the truth about claims that Trump has made throughout his campaign and during the debate.
Pundits will debate ad infinitum who won and who lost the debate and polls won’t reflect the debate’s impact for another week or so, but until then, perhaps a look out how Google users’ searches changed from before the debate began Tuesday evening until just after it wrapped up. Searches overwhelmingly favored Clinton.