DemDaily: Steady and Stumped

September 8, 2016

Last night voters got their first taste of the debate season, watching both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump field questions about their qualifications at the Commander in Chief Forum hosted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

In the hour-long forum hosted by NBC's Matt Lauer, each candidate appeared separately to answer questions from the audience about foreign policy and their qualifications to lead the country's military as Commander in Chief.

Hillary Clinton went first, fending off an immediate question about the emails (so much for foreign policy), then decisively addressing questions from her track record as Secretary of State to her plan for improving the Veterans Administration.

Donald Trump, by comparison, seemed to alternate between being stumped, contradicting previous statements and being simply unwilling to expand on details, including his "secret plans" for fighting ISIS and rebuilding our apparently "depleted" military (we expected something different?)

FORUM HIGHLIGHTS

CLINTON
- On what is the most important characteristic that a commander-in-chief can possess?
Steadiness. An absolute rock steadiness, and mixed with strength to be able to make the hard decisions.

- On the prospect of US military involvement in the Middle East
"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 to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops."

- On the Iran Nuclear Deal
"I put together the coalition. We imposed the sanctions. We got them to the negotiating table. And after I left, we got the agreement. That agreement put a lid on their nuclear weapons program and imposed intrusive inspections. I have said we are going to enforce it to the letter."

- On cracking down on domestic terrorism
"Here at home, for goodness's sakes, we have to finally pass a law prohibiting people on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in the United States of America. So we've got work to do."

- On mental health issues suffered by veterans
"I rolled out my mental health agenda last week, and I have a whole section devoted to veterans' mental health. And we've got to remove the stigma. We've got to help people currently serving not to feel that if they report their sense of unease, their depression, that somehow it's going to be a mark against them."

TRUMP
- On what he has done in life to prepare him to send men and women of the US into harm's way?
"Well, I think the main thing is I have great judgment. I have good judgment. I know what's going on. I've called so many of the shots.

- On the current Generals commanding the United States Armed Forces
"I think under the leadership 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."

- On his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin"

I mean, the man [Putin] has very strong control over a country... certainly in that system he's been a leader, far more than our president [Barack Obama] has been a leader."

- On his own May 2013 tweet, "26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military - only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?"
"Well, it is-- it is-- it is a correct tweet. There are many people that think that that's absolutely correct. And we need to have a strength."

- On post-conflict strategy in the Middle East
"If we would've taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS. Because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil. We would leave a certain groups behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil... You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils."

- On his support for the war in Iraq
"I was totally against the war in Iraq. From a - you can look at Esquire magazine from '04. You can look at before that." (Lauer failed to call Trump on past statements to the contrary, but NBC's post-forum fact check noted Trump's advocacy for the war on Howard Stern's show in 2002).

The forum was a teaser to the upcoming debates, the first of which will be held at Hofstra University on September 26th. See DemDaily: Your Presidential Debate Guide and check the DemList Calendar for details!

As always, DemList will keep you informed.

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