Trump and Clinton square off in first debate; WV political leaders react

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — For the first time this election season, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took the stage Monday night for a debate at Hofstra University.

The debate was the first of three scheduled between the two presidential nominees, along with one scheduled between vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kane.

Mike Stuart, Trump’s West Virginia campaign manager, said the contrast between Trump and Clinton was obvious in the first debate.

“Ultimately I would say that Hillary Clinton spoke in political talk the entire evening,” he said. “What Donald Trump has done throughout this entire campaign is speak with ordinary language, and I think that probably connected with voters this evening. What we heard out of Hillary Clinton is exactly what we expected: a great political performance.”

The debate was divided into six segments, ranging from national security, to race relations, to the economy. There were several heated exchanges between both candidates, often interrupting each other.

“We went in expecting both candidates to perform a certain way, and what we ended up with was a fiery debate from both sides,” Stuart said.

Former state Democratic Party chairman George Carenbauer thought Clinton did a better job sticking to facts, while the GOP nominee Trump made many gross exaggerations.

“I think that Hillary Clinton showed that she is in command of the facts. She has facts and he has fantasy,” said Carenbauer.

One argument that came up during the debate was whether Trump was in favor of the Iraq war, which Trump adamantly claimed he wasn’t, despite saying he was during an interview with Howard Stern many years ago.

“The public record is that he favored the war in Iraq. He was just saying things that were demonstrably false. Very easy to show they were false,” Carenbauer said.

Other spats between the two during the debate included Hillary’s controversial emails, the alleged hacking of the DNC by Russia and Trump’s stance on the release of President Obama’s birth certificate. Moderator Lester Holt had the chance to say very little during the debate, which Stuart said was fair to both sides.

“For the most part he stayed out of it. He let both candidates engage, and engage they did. I think for the most part Lester Holt had a good evening.”

The next debate is Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

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