Trump’s prior debates: unforgettable moments

Trump's prior debates: unforgettable moments

During the 2015-2016 US presidential race, Donald Trump’s debates provided numerous unforgettable moments that left an indelible mark on American politics. From heated exchanges to shocking statements, here are some of the most memorable moments from the Republican primary debates:

The First Republican Debate:

On August 6, 2015, at the Fox News Debate, Trump made headlines by declaring that Mexico was “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” This statement sparked controversy and set the tone for Trump’s campaign, which often focused on immigration issues.

The Second Republican Debate:

During the September 16, 2015, CNN Republican Debate, Trump was asked about his past support of single-payer healthcare. In response, he stated, “I’m a businessperson. I have no idea whether it works or not. But I tell you what: It does work in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland.” While his comment was technically true, critics argued that it demonstrated a lack of understanding about the healthcare system and its potential implications for the US.

The Third Republican Debate:

During the December 15, 2015, CNBC Republican Debate, Trump was involved in a heated exchange with moderator John Harwood. When Harwood asked if Trump had ever paid federal taxes, the real estate mogul responded angrily, “I’ve paid a lot, and I’m very proud of it.” This exchange highlighted Trump’s evasive response to questions regarding his tax history and financial dealings.

I. Introduction

Brief background on Donald Trump’s entry into the 2016 Presidential Race

In June 2015, Donald J. Trump, a real estate magnate and media personality, announced his intention to run for the Presidency of the United States in the 2016 election. Trump, known for his controversial statements and business acumen, entered the Republican primary field with a wave of media attention and fanfare. His announcement speech at Trump Tower in New York City was met with both enthusiasm from his supporters and criticism from his detractors. However, it was his performances in the upcoming debates that would shape his public perception and ultimately, his campaign’s success.

Importance of debates in shaping public perception and election outcomes

The role of presidential debates in the electoral process cannot be overstated. They provide an opportunity for candidates to directly engage with one another and present their vision, policies, and qualifications to the American people. Debates also offer a platform for voters to evaluate each candidate’s communication skills, charisma, and ability to handle pressure. As such, debates have played a significant role in shaping public perception and influencing election outcomes throughout history.


First Republican Primary Debate (August 6, 2015)
– Fox News

This debate marked the first appearance of Donald Trump on the Republican primary debate stage, an event that would forever change the course of his campaign and the entire political landscape. The night was hosted by Fox News, and the tension between the candidates and the moderators, most notably Megyn Kelly, was palpable from the start.

Trump’s debate debut:

Trump’s exchange with Megyn Kelly over his remarks about women became the most talked-about moment of the night. During the debate, Kelly asked Trump about his past derogatory comments regarding women. Trump’s response was defensive, and he fired back, labeling Kelly as “very nasty,” and implying that she had blood coming out of her eyes. This exchange not only set the tone for Trump’s campaign but also highlighted the growing frustration between candidates and the media.

Impact on Trump’s campaign:

Trump’s combative performance in this debate solidified his reputation as a political outsider and garnered him significant media attention. Despite the controversy surrounding his comments, Trump’s poll numbers continued to rise, demonstrating the appeal of his unapologetic and provocative style among some Republican voters.

Other notable moments:

The debate also featured several other memorable exchanges and incidents, including:

Jeb Bush’s “Please clap”:

During a discussion about immigration policy, Bush implored the audience to applaud his efforts in this area. The moment was captured on camera with an awkward pause and lackluster response from the crowd, earning Bush the nickname “Please clap” that would follow him throughout his campaign.

Marco Rubio’s water saga:

During a response to a question, Rubio reached for a bottle of water and took a long drink, seemingly unprepared for the issue at hand. The incident was widely criticized as a sign of weakness and inexperience, though Rubio later defended himself by stating that he had been caught off guard by the question.

Ben Carson’s comparison of Syria and Hitler:

In an attempt to illustrate the gravity of the Syrian conflict, Carson drew a comparison between the situation in Syria and the rise of Adolf Hitler. While some saw the analogy as an effective way to emphasize the importance of intervention, others criticized Carson for making an overly dramatic and potentially inaccurate comparison.


I Second Republican Primary Debate (September 16, 2015) – CNN

The second Republican primary debate held on September 16, 2015, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, hosted by CNN, became a pivotal moment in the race for the Republican nomination. One of the most controversial exchanges during the debate revolved around Donald Trump’s stance on immigration and his comments regarding Mexican immigrants. With bold assertions, Trump declared, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime.”

Reactions from fellow candidates and audience

The comments sparked heated reactions from both the fellow candidates and the audience. Jeb Bush, who has a personal connection to the issue as a former Florida governor, stated, “We’re not going to be demeaning people because of their nationality.” Marco Rubio, who is also of Cuban descent, remarked, “Donald, you’re tapping into something here with anger and frustration. But the reality is it is not accurate.”

Long-term impact on Trump’s campaign

Trump’s comments had a long-lasting effect on his campaign. Although he maintained his frontrunner status, the remarks solidified his image as a divisive figure within the party. Many pundits and political observers contended that the debate moment served to galvanize opposition against Trump, setting the stage for a contentious nomination process.

Other notable moments

The debate also featured other significant exchanges that shaped the race. Carly Fiorina, in response to Trump’s disparaging comments about women, presented a scathing critique of his business practices and character. She challenged Trump to release the controversial tapes from “The Apprentice” featuring disparaging remarks about women. Fiorina’s performance was well-received by many, and her standing in the polls saw a noticeable boost.

Rand Paul’s assertion of a government spy in his campaign

Another notable exchange involved Rand Paul’s accusation that there was a government spy in his presidential campaign. He confronted the FBI Director, James Comey, during the debate and demanded an investigation into the matter. Although no evidence has surfaced to support Paul’s claim, it underscored growing concerns among Republican voters about government interference in the political process.


Third Republican Primary Debate (October 28, 2015) – CNBC

The third Republican primary debate, hosted by CNBC on October 28, 2015, turned out to be a lively and contentious event. One of the most notable moments came during the exchange between Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly. After the debate, Trump made headlines with his criticism of Kelly, referring to her as having “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon.

Trump’s “misogynist” remark towards Megyn Kelly

The comment, which was widely criticized as being misogynistic, sparked a firestorm of controversy. Kelly responded to Trump’s remarks on her Fox News show, saying “You could not possibly be more wrong about me, and I’m going to be watching what you say very closely from now on.” Other candidates also weighed in, with Jeb Bush calling Trump’s comment “disgusting,” while Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both distanced themselves from the remark.

Response from Kelly and other candidates

Kelly, who had previously moderated the first Republican debate in August, did not back down from her questioning of Trump during the debate. She asked him about his past insults towards women and his treatment of women in business deals. Trump’s response was to dismiss Kelly as being on her menstrual cycle, a comment that many saw as an attempt to belittle and intimidate her.

Criticisms from the media and public

The media and public were swift in their condemnation of Trump’s comment. The Republican National Committee even issued a statement saying that “the sexist, demeaning attacks on Megyn Kelly are not acceptable in any venue.” Trump’s comments also drew criticism from his Republican primary opponents, who saw it as a distraction from the issues and an opportunity for Hillary Clinton to paint all Republicans as misogynistic.

Other notable moments

Despite the controversy surrounding Trump’s comments, there were other notable moments during the debate as well. Ben Carson made waves when he defended his past claims about lying by stating that “lying is a part of life,” and that “we’ve all lied at one point or another.” John Kasich defended his support for Obamacare, arguing that it was necessary to expand Medicaid in Ohio. Marco Rubio made headlines when he took a sip of water during his response to a question, leading to memes and jokes about the incident.


Sixth Republican Primary Debate (February 26, 2016) – Detroit, Michigan

The sixth Republican primary debate, held on February 26, 2016, in Detroit, Michigan, was marked by a contentious exchange between the frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz over Cruz’s eligibility to be President of the United States. This issue had been simmering for weeks, with Trump raising doubts about Cruz’s citizenship status due to his Canadian-born wife and his own eligibility concerns, given that he was born in Scotland.

Trump’s attacks on Ted Cruz’s eligibility to be President

During the debate, Trump renewed his attacks on Cruz, stating that “I’ve been watching him, he doesn’t have the temperament to be president.” He went on to question Cruz’s eligibility, asking “Was his mother a United States citizen when he was born?” and suggesting that Cruz might not be eligible due to his wife’s Canadian citizenship.

Legal and political implications

The debate exchange highlighted the potential legal and political implications of the ongoing controversy. The Constitution requires that the President be a “natural born Citizen” of the United States, but there is no clear definition of what that means in terms of birthplace or parents’ citizenship status. Some legal experts suggested that Cruz could face challenges to his eligibility if he were the nominee, but others argued that his Canadian-born wife would not affect his eligibility as long as he was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth.

Reactions from Cruz, other candidates, and the audience

Cruz responded to Trump’s attacks by reiterating his eligibility and accusing Trump of engaging in “nasty personal attacks.” He also criticized Trump for his business record, highlighting the controversy over Trump’s failed ventures and bankruptcies. Other candidates, including Marco Rubio and John Kasich, weighed in on the issue as well, with Rubio delivering a passionate defense of the Republican Party and Kasich criticizing Trump’s business record. The audience reacted with boos and jeers whenever Trump spoke, indicating their frustration with his attacks on Cruz.

Other notable moments:

The debate also featured other notable moments, including a heated exchange between Rubio and Cruz over immigration policy and Rubio’s assertion that Cruz had “lied” about his position on the issue. Kasich criticized Trump for not having a specific plan to address the national debt and defended his record as governor of Ohio. Ben Carson, who had been lagging in the polls, focused on policy issues and avoided getting drawn into the back-and-forth between Trump and Cruz. The debate ended with the candidates making closing statements and emphasizing their differences on key issues, setting the stage for the next round of primary contests.


VI. First Presidential Debate (September 26, 2016) – Hofstra University

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, held at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016, proved to be a pivotal moment in the election campaign. One of the most notable moments came when moderator Lester Holt asked Trump to condemn white supremacists and the “alt-right”. Trump’s response left many stunned. Instead of explicitly denouncing these groups, he stated that he knew “nothing about” the alt-right and added that there were “many sides” to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Reactions from Clinton, moderators, and the public

Clinton seized this opportunity to condemn white supremacists, stating that they “should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.” Moderators were critical of Trump’s response as well. The public reaction was swift and fierce, with many prominent Republicans distancing themselves from Trump’s statement.

Impact on Trump’s campaign

The fallout from this exchange damaged Trump’s campaign significantly. Many voters saw his refusal to condemn white supremacists as a sign of tacit support for their racist views. This incident further eroded Trump’s standing among undecided voters, making it increasingly difficult for him to close the gap with Clinton in the polls.

Other notable moments

The debate also featured other notable exchanges. Clinton pressed Trump on his tax returns, accusing him of being the first presidential candidate in decades not to release his taxes. Trump countered by claiming that he couldn’t release his taxes because they were under audit, a claim later debunked by the IRS. The candidates also clashed over economic and foreign policy issues. Clinton accused Trump of not having a plan for creating jobs, while Trump criticized her handling of the Benghazi attack and her support for free trade deals.


V Second Presidential Debate (October 9, 2016) – Washington University in St. Louis

The second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, held at Washington University in St. Louis on October 9, 2016, was marked by several noteworthy moments, the most prominent of which was Trump’s comment about women in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.

Trump’s “locker room talk” comment about women

“I’ve said some foolish things,” Trump admitted during the debate, referring to the recording where he bragged about groping women without consent. “But there’s a big difference between the words and the actions.” Clinton reacted firmly, accusing Trump of “talking about women like they’re pieces of meat.” The moderators pressed Trump on his behavior, but he defended himself by insisting that the words were just “locker room talk” and not representative of his actions. The public reaction was swift and severe, with many condemning Trump’s comments and expressing concern about the implications for his character and fitness for office.

Other notable moments

The debate also saw other significant exchanges between Clinton and Trump.

Clinton’s health

During the debate, Trump questioned Clinton’s stamina and raised concerns about her health, leading to a heated exchange. Clinton responded by releasing her medical records and challenging Trump to do the same.

Trade policies

Another contentious topic was trade policies, with Clinton arguing for free trade and Trump advocating for protectionist measures. Their exchange over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was particularly notable, with Clinton defending her support of the agreement and Trump criticizing it as a “disaster” for American workers.

Their exchange over NATO and the Iraq War

Lastly, Clinton and Trump clashed over their views on NATO and the Iraq War. Clinton criticized Trump for his past opposition to NATO, while Trump accused her of making a mistake by supporting the invasion of Iraq. This exchange highlighted the stark differences between their foreign policy positions.


VI Third Presidential Debate (October 19, 2016) – University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Trump’s Refusal to Commit to Accepting Election Results and His Claims About a Rigged System

The third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on October 19, 2016, was marked by a contentious exchange over the issue of election integrity. Trump, refusing to commit to accepting the results of the election, asserted that the system was “rigged” against him. This claim, which had been a recurring theme throughout his campaign, drew sharp reactions from both Clinton and the moderators.

Reactions from Clinton, Moderators, and the Public

Clinton responded forcefully to Trump’s claims, stating that “the election isn’t rigged. And every expert agrees that early voting and absentee ballots are no more likely to be manipulated than any other kind of vote.” Moderator Chris Wallace pressed Trump for evidence to support his allegations, but the Republican nominee was unable to provide any. The public reaction to Trump’s statement was mixed, with some expressing concern over the potential for voter fraud and others viewing his comments as a dangerous assault on democracy.

Other Notable Moments

Despite the heated discussion over election integrity, there were other notable moments during the debate. Clinton‘s stance on immigration was a major point of contention, with Trump accusing her of supporting “sanctuary cities” and Clinton arguing for comprehensive reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. They also engaged in a heated exchange over the Supreme Court, with Clinton emphasizing her belief in upholding precedent and Trump criticizing her for her past support of certain justices. Additionally, Trump’s comments about Putin and NATO raised eyebrows, as he expressed admiration for the Russian president and questioned the value of U.S. commitments to European security.


IX. Conclusion

Summary of the most unforgettable moments from Trump’s debates during his 2016 Presidential campaign:

The First Debate: “Nasty Woman”

In the first debate, then-candidate Donald Trump made headlines when he called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman.” This moment highlighted the tone of their debates, which were often contentious and personal.

The Second Debate: “Isis and Rosie O’Donnell

During the second debate, Trump brought up his past criticism of Rosie O’Donnell and suggested that she was the real cause of radical Islamic terrorism. This moment showcased Trump’s penchant for making off-the-wall comments and distracting from the issues at hand.

The Third Debate: “Lock Her Up”

Perhaps the most infamous moment came during the third debate when Trump urged his supporters to “lock her up” if he were elected and Clinton was found to have broken the law. This comment underscored Trump’s promise to be a law-and-order president and his willingness to use political rhetoric to incite crowds.

The Third Debate: “The Wall”

Another memorable moment was Trump’s insistence on building a wall between the United States and Mexico to stop illegal immigration. This promise became a rallying cry for his supporters and helped solidify his base of support.

5. The Final Debate: “I’ll Tell You at the Time”

In the final debate, Trump refused to answer whether or not he would accept the results of the election if he lost. This moment raised concerns about the integrity of the democratic process and added to the already heightened tension surrounding the election.

Significance of these moments in shaping public perception and the election outcome:

These unforgettable moments from Trump’s debates during his 2016 Presidential campaign played a significant role in shaping public perception and the election outcome. They highlighted Trump’s divisive rhetoric, his willingness to make off-the-wall comments, and his promise to be a law-and-order president. These moments helped solidify Trump’s base of support while alienating many other voters. Ultimately, they contributed to the highly polarized political climate that surrounded the election and the intense emotions that followed Trump’s victory.