The First Presidential Debate in 3 Minutes

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off.


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met for the first presidential debate last night at Hofstra University in New York. The major party candidates hoped to make their case to the record number of American voters expected to watch. Meanwhile, third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, despite pulling a combined double digits in national polls, were locked out.

The lack of an alternative viewpoint to the Republican-Democrat status quo led to some familiar discussions. On security, Trump emphasized his support for bringing back and expanding New York City's defunct stop-and-frisk policy while Clinton focused on the need for more restrictions on gun ownership. Trump's failure to acknowledge that stop-and-frisk was both unconstitutional and ineffective in reducing crime was only matched by Clinton's failure to mention that gun violence is at historic lows despite soaring gun sales.

For libertarians in particular, the most egregious parts of the debate may not have been the disagreements, but the times when the candidates were aligned. They nodded in agreement when it came to opposing free trade accords, increasing spending and debt, and denying gun rights to people placed on government lists without due process.

Also, NBC's Lester Holt made a brief appearance as moderator.

Reason TV boiled down 90 minutes of agony to give you the three minutes that count. Watch the video above to see the candidates discuss these issues and more, along with some of the more egregious consultant-crafted zingers they delivered.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller and Justin Monticello. Music by Polyrhythmics.

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NEXT: D.C. Council considering whether to repeal the stun gun ban

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  1. The debate in 3 seconds: “You are unfit to be President”.

    And both of them are right.

    1. Sucks to be us.

      1. Sucks to be us.

        “At least we were right,” the libertarians said as RepuDem troops herded all 259 of them into the camps.

        1. We’re not going to end up in camps, we’re gonna be be put right up against a wall and executed. Camps are for the people who can be re-educated. Those of us who actually believe in this “freedom*” crap are beyond hope.


          1. You mean liberty, not freedom. Freedom now means asking permission and obeying orders, as opposed to liberty which means the exact opposite.

            1. Oh, right. Sorry, I haven’t gotten the latest of the Newspeak Dictionary. I should probably get one. I wouldn’t want a Goodthinker to hear me use the wrong words and report me for thoughtcrime.

            2. You can’t truly be free if you have the burden of making decisions.

        2. “Avenge me!”

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  2. Hitler said he would work to help people get off the watch lists if they shouldn’t be there. That’s more than Stalin said.

    1. “work to get”…. is that the new “waste, fraud, and abuse”?

      It’s never the thing itself, it’s always that they’re just not doing it quite right.


  4. The next article is going to be a scathing criticism of CNN’s shamelessly biased moderation of the debate. Right, right???

    1. Don’t hold your breath.

    2. Oh, noes! Biased moderation between two identical, terrible candidates! The horror!

      1. I don’t care how bad the candidates are, that doesn’t excuse CNN’s shameless bias and meddling.

        1. So I’ll admit I was only half paying attention to the debates, what exactly was so shamelessly biased? I noticed a few questions phrased from a Keynesian perspective, but it’s not like either candidate has a different view of economics. Sincerely curious what your perspective was though.

          1. I didn’t see the bias either. Holt pressed Trump on a few occasions where he dodged the question.

            I think perceptions of bias are more about which team you are actually rooting for. Like fans in the NFL that bitch every single game about how bad the refs were screwing their team. Hyperion et al. are soft Team Red (despite their best efforts to deny this), and thus they’ll naturally see bias against their favorite team. It’s human nature.

            1. I heard claims of bias by asking Hillary questions first and giving Trump time to think on questions.

          2. Trump got asked about crap like “birtherism” and his taxes, but Hildog didn’t get asked a word about the illegal server, deleted emails, or Benghazi.

            You don’t think that’s a biased approach?

            1. She didn’t get asked about the Clinton Foundation, discrepancies in its records, and associated shenanigans either.

            2. If you watched the debate, you’d know she did get asked about the server.

              Due to the cage fight nature of the debate, Holt actually asked very few formal questions. In the case of Clinton’s server/emails, Trump struck first, and Holt asked Clinton to respond. They did discuss Libya, but no specifics on the Benghazi attacks.

        2. I’m not totally convinced that Clump is more than one candidate.

  5. I watched 5 minutes of the debate, and got so stressed I had to shut it off. I can’t imagine watching the whole 90 minutes.

    1. That’s 5 minutes more than I watched. I went back and forth between Star Trek TNG re-runs on BBC America and Monday Night Football. I suspect I’m better off for it.

      1. I fell asleep on the couch watching MNF. Went to bed around midnight, woke up refreshed and happy.

        Until I started reading the news this morning, but hey, for one night, all was well.

        1. The hype before the debate was that 100 million people would watch. Any est on the real number?

    2. I watched the whole thing. alcohol helped.

      1. I’m confident that the amount of alcohol that I would have needed to get through a debate between those two morons would kill me.

      2. Your liver must be wrecked now.

      3. I didn’t. Alcohol helped.

      4. I watched 2 secs. Weed did not help.

    3. I heard a little on the radio. I have to admire those with the perseverance and fortitude to be able to stick it out through the entire debate. I suppose a bottle of Scotch couldn’t hurt.

  6. Journalists really don’t understand what these debates are. They think they are like high school debates and to be judged on who scored the most points attacking their opponents. Partisans like that because they want to see the other guy humiliated and journalists like like it because seeing it as a prize fight makes for good copy. The public, however, doesn’t see it that way. They really are not debates as much as comparative speaking engagements. So, you don’t judge them by which side attacked the other more effectively, you judge them by which side gave the better justification for voting for them. Attacking the other side doesn’t usually help much because “I hate my opponent” really doesn’t convince anyone who isn’t already convinced.

    As far as last night goes, this is the impression I got was that Hillary Clinton thinks that other than race relations things are going pretty well in the country and she wants to be President so she can do more of what the government is doing now. Trump thinks the country is going off the rails and he wants to be President so he can change things and try to put things in a different and better direction. Which justification is “better” depends on the public. Do they want more of the same or do they really think the country is going off the rails and want to try something different? That is really what it comes down to.

    1. I think Hillary won because she didn’t look sick or cough. And Trump also won because he didn’t make any huge fuck-ups. Aside from journalists and people who read political sites like Reason, nobody else gives a shit about details. That’s why these debates are useless.

      1. I wouldn’t go that far but I think you are right that the details don’t matter. Time and again losing candidates have lit up their opponents in this things only to find out the public doesn’t care. Walter Mondale ran up the score against Reagan in 1984. Reagan really didn’t even bother to prepare for the debate because unlike Mondale he understood these things are not about scoring points against your opponents. Reagan knew that his first term had been successful and that all he had to do was stand up and tell the country he was ready to give them more of the same. Mondale’s debating skill just created the impression that he was a smart guy who couldn’t admit Reagan had done a good job.

        I wouldn’t say they are totally useless though. I do think they allow candidates to define themselves to the public in ways they are not able to campaigning and at the convention. Reagan won the 1980 election by showing the country he wasn’t some crazy war monger in the debates. I think Trump had a good night. He established himself as the outsider and made Hillary claim to be the insider who thinks things are going just fine. Moreover, this morning no one that I am aware of is talking about all of the craziness of the last six months, the claims that he hates Mexicans and women and is going to start nuking people and all that. All that stuff has fallen away and we are left with the two candidates and why they want to be President. Trump did what he needed to do.

      2. Agreed. People see what they want to see. I literally just overheard a woman in my office say, “I think Trump won the debate, because I really don’t like Hillary.” I mean, that pretty much sums it all up (and you could obviously swap the names depending on the person’s rooting interests)

        1. There is largely true. That is why attacking your opponent in these things doesn’t do you any good. Anyone who thinks whatever attack or zinger you have disqualifies your opponent for office, is already voting for you. So bringing it up and rubbing it in isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. The undecideds or people who support the other candidate but are open to change their mind don’t consider that to be disqualifying and are looking to you to give them a positive reason to switch their vote. You can’t win an election based on how much you loath your opponent, no matter how justified that loathing is.

          This is why the Clintosn have spent the last 25 years handing conservatives their asses. The Clintons get up and shamelessly lie, wait for conservatives to lose their minds over it, and then explain to the country how they care about them while all conservatives can say is how much they hate the Clintons. Conservatives never understand that the point of politics is to influence people and win elections not win arguments. They seem to be untrainable in this regard.

          1. I’m not so sure about that last point. Wouldn’t Reagan or anybody voted in as a Tea Party member be evidenced against it?

      3. I think Hillary lost by default because of the moderator. If he would have been even handed, she might have won. But if you look at every other poll besides CNN, she lost badly.

        1. I am not sure how much effect the moderator had. Holt was so obviously one sided, I can’t believe there was anyone watching it who didn’t notice that. And if the public realizes you are being one sided, it doesn’t likely have much effect. Beyond that, I am not sure the ways in which Holt was one sided really make any difference. Is anyone not already voting for Hillary really going to now because of Trump’s tax returns and all of the birther nonsense? I don’t think so. All Holt did was keep it from being a complete disaster for Hillary by refusing to confront her with her scandals and spend the entire debate explaining why she is not a crook rather than why she should be President. That helped her but only so much.

    2. “Do they want more of the same or do they really think the country is going off the rails and want to try something different? That is really what it comes down to.”

      Trump’s problem is that it’s not enough for people to be dissatisfied with the status quo and wanting to head into a different direction. He needs people to think he’s the right guy to fix it, that his direction is the right one, or at least a better one. And there are a lot of people who aren’t thrilled about the status quo who nonetheless don’t think Trump’s the right guy to change things. His best chance is that people aren’t enthused about Hillary and enough of them don’t bother to vote. It’s a better chance than he’d have against any half-decent Democratic candidate.

      1. That would be his problem if he were running against Bernie Sanders or someone other than Hillary. Hillary is the ultimate insider and everyone knows it. A vote for her is a vote for the status quo. All Trump has to do is establish himself as the candidate of change and that he is not crazy or untrustworthy and he will likely win.

        1. My response was specifically a response to that assertion. Again, it doesn’t matter for Trump if people want change if they don’t want his brand of change. And that’s a big portion of the electorate.

          1. Sure, they are called Democrats and were going to vote for Hillary. That however is no more than 35%. The people who will decide this election are the 15 or 30% in the middle who may or may not want change but are not ideological about it one way or another. Those are the people that being the outsider will appeal to. I get it that you hate Trump’s guts and would never vote for him. But, only a minority of the electorate feel that way. All you are telling me is “well I don’t like him and no one else will” Maybe but that is not really my point.

          2. I guess what you are not getting is that the part of the electorate that isn’t partisan and ideological doesn’t really care about the details of a candidates position. What they want is a candidate that they feel like cares about and understands their problems. So that fact that you and other ideologues think “but what about his brand of change” doesn’t really matter because that is not how those people view it.

  7. your “gun violence is at historic lows” url is invalid

  8. Two questions.

    1) Can ANYONE actually be president as it is defined today?

    2) Who is this wunderkind?

  9. Every debate for the last 40 years:

    She’s wrong, I’m right.
    He’s wrong, I’m right.

    Taxes are too high.
    Taxes are too low.

    We have to have a strong military.

    I cannot believe I was stupid enough to watch it.
    I just wanted to see her cough herself to death. Anything is better than listening to that shrill bitch for 4 years.

    1. Anything is better than listening to that shrill bitch for 4 years.

      Here, have some mind rape.

      MWUH HA HA

      1. She is starting to look like Verne Lundquist with that massive cranium and fat neck.

        I would like to see a flare explode in her mouth like in Dead Calm.

        1. …a flare explode in her mouth…

          These euphemisms are getting more abstract by the day.

          1. Perhaps the de-compression chamber scene from “License to Kill”, I think, is a better analogy. Either way, it looks like a horrible way to go. Few evil people on earth could deserve worse than her.

            1. As long as it involves a head explosion, it’s all good.

              1. Precisely. Her extinction is the main goal here.

        2. Has anyone ever seen her and Verne Lundquist in the same room?

          1. Yeah. They morphed into Jabba the Hut.

            1. Jabba wearing Dr. No’s suit no doubt.

      2. I think the last four letters in the URL are instructive:

    2. I say your 3 cent titanium tax goes too far!
      And I say your 3 cent titanium tax doesn’t go too far enough!

  10. After months of lies, email scandals, health issues, and a power-hungry personality on display, what little I watched of the debate reminded me that there is no problem, no issue, no sparrow on a tree, that Hillary doesn’t think can be cured with more government intervention. I needed that.

    1. She does provide a high level of comfort in that everything Obama did will be replicated with the same disastrous results and further economic malaise. Only this time with a heavier dose of blatant corruption and friendly favors, perhaps sprinkled with a few destroyed lives and careers in the process. Oh, and the wars and death.

      These two assholes should be running together, not opposing each other.

      1. “These two assholes should be running together, not opposing each other.”


        Their prescriptions are exactly the same: More government. I expect this from the Democrats. The fact that Republicans and “Conservatives” are lining up behind Trump shows their complete and utter lack of principles.

        1. The lack of principles is shocking but what I have come to read today is far more frightening. The robot republicans are ignoring one of the scariest things that trump repeatedly says. I think you have to have a brain to have principles.

          There is a WSJ article about the ford CEO defending their private enterprise plans to make money, maximize profit, and sell cars affordably. The journal, which one would think might be read by a few people who understand capital markets, is rife with commenters praising trump for squashing free market principals, distorting major economic engines, favoring a few players, and downright threatening an entire industry with regulation. Basically what Obama does. And the sheep rejoice en masse.

          This whole thing is a fine exercise illuminating the stupidity of the American electorate and forecasting our further demise. These two dolts wouldn’t understand free markets and personal liberty if it was free solar panels or stolen casino land. They also both love censoring the internet and war.

        2. To be fair, not all Conservatives are toeing the red line, myself included.

      2. The Kleptocracy IS running together. Now that this is the Unionized States of Altruria, the kleptocrat looters The Accumulation (cronies and mercantilists) struggled to keep off the soapboxes in 1892 now runs the soapbox as The Kleptocracy. Heads you lose, tails… But now you can vote LP and repeal bad laws with 35 times the clout…

    2. “no problem, no issue, no sparrow on a tree, that Hillary doesn’t think can be cured with more government intervention”


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  12. I watch a couple of minutes where Hillary fell back to its all Bush’s fault. so I turned it off.

    1. Which Bush?

    2. George Waffen Bush did dust off and even before 2007 deploy the 1987 asset forfeiture tactics Daddy Bush inherited from Herbert Hoover’s 1929 and 1933 demonstrations of prohibitionist efficacy. And the spaghetti had ALREADY hit the fan before the Go-Pee party lost the black vote to the traditional party of the ku-klux klan. Whose fault was that?

  13. How many goddamn times did Hillary make reference to the factcheckers?

    1. She knows she has an army of them in the media willing to spin the “facts” to her favor. She was sending out the call like the dinner bell.

    2. How many times did she reference her daddy, the drapery maker?

      I think he still dresses her…


    Meanwhile Howard Dean claims Trump must be on coke because he had a runny nose. Way to raise the level of the national conversation there Howard. What a putz.

    1. He should know.


    2. Well I suspect if anyone can recognize the signs of cocaine use it would be ol’ Howard “Vacuum Nose” Dean*. /sarc

      *I have no idea if Howard Dean has ever used cocaine, I’m just assuming that he did. It would explain a lot if he killed half his brain cells with coke.

      1. So I guess the real point of debates is for dinosaur loser politicians to get 5 more minutes of fame?

        Then get back to stealing and bribing and f*cking whores with tax payer money.

  15. My favorite bits were where Hillary claimed polar opposites as her own…. and nobody noticed.

    Immediately after Trump (semi-incoherently) pointed out that Hillary first used the birther thing during her primary race against Obama, she went full retard by saying only a racist who was courting racist voters would use the birther thing. And no one noticed.

    She said she wanted to get all that capital held overseas repatriated… immediately followed by vows to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations…… Uh, exactly why do you think that money is parked overseas?

    She crowed about bringing good jobs (in innovation!) back to America right in the middle of a screed about how much she was going to raise taxes on corporations, how great past free trade agreements were and how many new mandates she was going to place on American employers (more paid time off, higher wages, equal pay mandates, etc. etc.). Why exactly do you think those Ford plants are moving to Mexico? For the excellent logistics? No, it is because of labor costs and tax incentives, which can be taken advantage of because of tariff limitations due to said trade agreements.

    Trump was kinda playing the same tune, but he was difficult to listen to – at once rambling and repetitive, which is quite the trick – that I have a hard time coming up with examples.

    1. Trump left a lot of low hanging fruit out there. He could have pounced were he articulate enough to squash her.

      1. The Republican Orangutan is reciting what’s in their platform. At least SOME candidates read the furshlugginer manual!

    2. Trump rarely put out thoughts coherent enough to actually conflict.

    3. The thing that stood out to me is how Hillary spent 45 minutes lecturing the country on how good things are and they just didn’t realize it and then when it got to the subject of race suddenly everything was gloom and doom. I can’t be the only person who found that a bit odd. Jump could have jumped on that but I think he was better off not doing so. Everyone knows race relations have gotten much worse despite there being a black President. I can’t see how he would have benefitted by pointing out the obvious.

      Whether you like what either candidate had to say depends on your point of view. If you think that the country is doing pretty well sans race relations and that the way to make it better is by taxing and regulating even more, then Hillary crushed Trump. If you think the country is not doing so swell and or think taxes and regulations is one of the reason, then you have to wonder what planet Hillary lives on.

      1. “Everything is wonderful” seems like a pretty tough sell to any remotely aware, sane person at a time when there’s a Muslim terror attack on the homeland about every other weeks and cities are being burned down to the ground by the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” brownshirt army.

  16. RE: The First Presidential Debate in 3 Minutes
    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off.

    The first presidential debate can be explained in one second.
    They both suck.

  17. I also think Hillary won since she didn’t look wiped out or hack. Furthermore, Trump additionally won since he didn’t make any immense fuck-ups. Beside columnists and individuals who read political destinations like Reason, no one else cares the slightest bit about subtle elements. That is the reason these civil arguments are futile.

    1. Paddypower bookies are offering you 2 to 1 odds if you are seriously convinced voters are going to let God’s Own Prohibitionists cause another asset forfeiture crash and bully pregnant women again. Free money! Go for it!

  18. The hag walks like she’s knocked up. Why is that?

  19. I don’t know who’s going to win, but I can tell you who’s going to lose. We the people.

  20. Isn’t there something ageist about only letting the more elderly candidates onstage? Gary is younger than Don Fuehrer, the Soviet Lady and even the Econazi grrrl they also excluded.

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