Transcript: The most important exchanges of the presidential debate, annotated
Watch: The First Presidential Debate of 2016.
Times journalists are annotating these excerpts. If you see a passage highlighted in yellow, you can click on it to see what we have to say about it. You can also highlight passages and leave your own comments.
On trade and economic policy
CLINTON: Well, I think that trade is an important issue. Of course, we are 5 percent of the world's population; we have to trade with the other 95 percent. And we need to have smart, fair trade deals.
We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again. In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percent of the people in this country than we've ever had.
I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that's exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy.
We just have a different view about what's best for growing the economy, how we make investments that will actually produce jobs and rising incomes.
I think we come at it from somewhat different perspectives. I understand that. You know, Donald was very fortunate in his life, and that's all to his benefit. He started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father, and he really believes that the more you help wealthy people, the better off we'll be and that everything will work out from there.
I don't buy that. I have a different experience. My father was a small-businessman. He worked really hard. He printed drapery fabrics on long tables, where he pulled out those fabrics and he went down with a silkscreen and dumped the paint in and took the squeegee and kept going.
And so what I believe is the more we can do for the middle class, the more we can invest in you, your education, your skills, your future, the better we will be off and the better we'll grow. That's the kind of economy I want us to see again.
HOLT: Let me follow up with Mr.
TRUMP: Well, for one thing -- and before we start on that -- my father gave me a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that's worth many, many billions of dollars, with some of the greatest assets in the world, and I say that only because that's the kind of thinking that our country needs.
Our country's in deep trouble. We don't know what we're doing when it comes to devaluations and all of these countries all over the world, especially China. They're the best, the best ever at it. What they're doing to us is a very, very sad thing.
So we have to do that. We have to renegotiate our trade deals. And, Lester, they're taking our jobs, they're giving incentives, they're doing things that, frankly, we don't do.
Let me give you the example of Mexico. They have a VAT tax. We're on a different system. When we sell into Mexico, there's a tax. When they sell in -- automatic, 16 percent, approximately. When they sell into us, there's no tax. It's a defective agreement. It's been defective for a long time, many years, but the politicians haven't done anything about it.
Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton -- yes, is that OK? Good. I want you to be very happy. It's very important to me.
But in all fairness to Secretary Clinton, when she started talking about this, it was really very recently. She's been doing this for 30 years. And why hasn't she made the agreements better? The
HOLT: Let me interrupt just a moment, but...
TRUMP: Secretary Clinton and others, politicians, should have been doing this for years, not right now, because of the fact that we've created a movement. They should have been doing this for years. What's happened to our jobs and our country and our economy generally is -- look, we owe $20 trillion. We cannot do it any longer, Lester.
HOLT: Back to the question, though. How do you bring back -- specifically bring back jobs, American manufacturers? How do you make them bring the jobs back?
TRUMP: Well, the first thing you do is don't let the jobs leave. The companies are leaving. I could name, I mean, there are thousands of them. They're leaving, and they're leaving in bigger numbers than ever.
And what you do is you say, fine, you want to go to Mexico or some other country, good luck. We wish you a lot of luck. But if you think you're going to make your air conditioners or your cars or your cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you're wrong.
And once you say you're going to have to tax them coming in, and our politicians never do this, because they have special interests and the special interests want those companies to leave, because in many cases, they own the companies. So what I'm saying is, we can stop them from leaving. We have to stop them from leaving. And that's a big, big factor.
HOLT: Let me let Secretary Clinton get in here.
CLINTON: Well, let's stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.
In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, "Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money." Well, it did collapse.
TRUMP: That's called business, by the way.
CLINTON: Nine million people -- nine million people lost their jobs. Five million people lost their homes. And $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out.
Now, we have come back from that abyss. And it has not been easy. So we're now on the precipice of having a potentially much better economy, but the last thing we need to do is to go back to the policies that failed us in the first place.
Independent experts have looked at what I've proposed and looked at what Donald's proposed, and basically they've said this, that if his tax plan, which would blow up the debt by over $5 trillion and would in some instances disadvantage middle-class families compared to the wealthy, were to go into effect, we would lose 3.5 million jobs and maybe have another recession.
They've looked at my plans and they've said, OK, if we can do this, and I intend to get it done, we will have 10 million more new jobs, because we will be making investments where we can grow the economy.
TRUMP: Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.
CLINTON: Well, that's your opinion. That is your opinion.
TRUMP: You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, you go anywhere you want, Secretary Clinton, and you will see devastation where manufacture is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent. NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.
And now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it. Then you heard what I was saying, how bad it is, and you said, I can't win that debate. But you know that if you did win, you would approve that, and that will be almost as bad as NAFTA. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.
CLINTON: Well, that is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. I wrote about that in...
TRUMP: You called it the gold standard.
TRUMP: You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it's the finest deal you've ever seen.
TRUMP: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden you were against it.
CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts. The facts are -- I did say I hoped it would be a good deal, but when it was negotiated...
CLINTON: ... which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn't. I wrote about that in my book...
TRUMP: So is it
CLINTON: ... before you even announced.
TRUMP: Is it President Obama's fault?
CLINTON: Look, there are differences...
TRUMP: Secretary, is it President Obama's fault?
CLINTON: There are...
TRUMP: Because he's pushing it.
CLINTON: There are different views about what's good for our country, our economy, and our leadership in the world. And I think it's important to look at what we need to do to get the economy going again. That's why I said new jobs with rising incomes, investments, not in more tax cuts that would add $5 trillion to the debt.
TRUMP: But you have no plan.
CLINTON: But in -- oh, but I do.
CLINTON: I kind of assumed that there would be a lot of these charges and claims, and so...
CLINTON: So we have taken the home page of my website, HillaryClinton.com, and we've turned it into a fact-checker. So if you want to see in real-time what the facts are, please go and take a look. Because what I have proposed...
TRUMP: And take a look at mine, also, and you'll see.
CLINTON: ... would not add a penny to the debt, and your plans would add $5 trillion to the debt. What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have made all the gains in the economy. And I think it's time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country.
TRUMP: And look at her website. You know what? It's no difference than this. She's telling us how to fight ISIS. Just go to her website. She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don't think General Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.
HOLT: The next segment, we're continuing...
CLINTON: Well, at least I have a plan to fight ISIS.
HOLT: ... achieving prosperity...
TRUMP: No, no, you're telling the enemy everything you want to do.
CLINTON: No, we're not. No, we're not.
TRUMP: See, you're telling the enemy everything you want to do. No wonder you've been fighting -- no wonder you've been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.
CLINTON: That's a -- that's -- go to the -- please, fact checkers, get to work.
On Trump’s taxes
HOLT: Mr. Trump, we're talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns. And the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so that voters will know if their potential president owes money to -- who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don't Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?
TRUMP: I don't mind releasing -- I'm under a routine audit. And it'll be released. And -- as soon as the audit's finished, it will be released.
But you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections, where I filed a 104-page essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have. It shows income -- in fact, the income -- I just looked today -- the income is filed at $694 million for this past year, $694 million. If you would have told me I was going to make that 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been very surprised.
But that's the kind of thinking that our country needs. When we have a country that's doing so badly, that's being ripped off by every single country in the world, it's the kind of thinking that our country needs, because everybody -- Lester, we have a trade deficit with all of the countries that we do business with, of almost $800 billion a year. You know what that is? That means, who's negotiating these trade deals?
We have people that are political hacks negotiating our trade deals.
TRUMP: Excuse me.
HOLT: ... of your taxes -- you're perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. And so the question, does the public's right to know outweigh your personal...
TRUMP: Well, I told you, I will release them as soon as the audit. Look, I've been under audit almost for 15 years. I know a lot of wealthy people that have never been audited. I said, do you get audited? I get audited almost every year.
And in a way, I should be complaining. I'm not even complaining. I don't mind it. It's almost become a way of life. I get audited by the IRS. But other people don't.
I will say this. We have a situation in this country that has to be taken care of. I will release my tax returns -- against my lawyer's wishes -- when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release.
I will release my tax returns. And that's against -- my lawyers, they say, "Don't do it." I will tell you this. No -- in fact, watching shows, they're reading the papers. Almost every lawyer says, you don't release your returns until the audit's complete. When the audit's complete, I'll do it. But I would go against them if she releases her e-mails.
HOLT: So it's negotiable?
TRUMP: It's not negotiable, no. Let her release the e-mails. Why did she delete 33,000...
HOLT: Well, I'll let her answer that. But let me just admonish the audience one more time. There was an agreement. We did ask you to be silent, so it would be helpful for us. Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I think you've seen another example of bait-and- switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly, I think, 39, 40 years of our tax returns, but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you're under audit.
So you've got to ask yourself, why won't he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he's not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he's not as charitable as he claims to be.
CLINTON: Third, we don't know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody's ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax.
TRUMP: That makes me smart.
CLINTON: So if he's paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health. And I think probably he's not all that enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons are, because it must be something really important, even terrible, that he's trying to hide.
And the financial disclosure statements, they don't give you the tax rate. They don't give you all the details that tax returns would. And it just seems to me that this is something that the American people deserve to see. And I have no reason to believe that he's ever going to release his tax returns, because there's something he's hiding.
And we'll guess. We'll keep guessing at what it might be that he's hiding. But I think the question is, were he ever to get near the White House, what would be those conflicts? Who does he owe money to? Well, he owes you the answers to that, and he should provide them.
On Clinton’s emails
HOLT: He also -- he also raised the issue of your e-mails. Do you want to respond to that?
CLINTON: I do. You know, I made a mistake using a private e- mail.
TRUMP: That's for sure.
CLINTON: And if I had to do it over again, I would, obviously, do it differently. But I'm not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake, and I take responsibility for that.
HOLT: Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: That was more than a mistake. That was done purposely. OK? That was not a mistake. That was done purposely. When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, taking the Fifth so they're not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the Fifth, I think it's disgraceful. And believe me, this country thinks it's -- really thinks it's disgraceful, also.
As far as my tax returns, you don't learn that much from tax returns. That I can tell you. You learn a lot from financial disclosure. And you should go down and take a look at that.
The other thing, I'm extremely underleveraged. The report that said $650 -- which, by the way, a lot of friends of mine that know my business say, boy, that's really not a lot of money. It's not a lot of money relative to what I had.
The buildings that were in question, they said in the same report, which was -- actually, it wasn't even a bad story, to be honest with you, but the buildings are worth $3.9 billion. And the $650 isn't even on that. But it's not $650. It's much less than that.
But I could give you a list of banks, I would -- if that would help you, I would give you a list of banks. These are very fine institutions, very fine banks. I could do that very quickly.
I am very underleveraged. I have a great company. I have a tremendous income. And the reason I say that is not in a braggadocios way. It's because it's about time that this country had somebody running it that has an idea about money.
When we have $20 trillion in debt, and our country's a mess, you know, it's one thing to have $20 trillion in debt and our roads are good and our bridges are good and everything's in great shape, our airports. Our airports are like from a third world country.
You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible -- you come in from China, you see these incredible airports, and you land -- we've become a third world country.
So the worst of all things has happened. We owe $20 trillion, and we're a mess. We haven't even started. And we've spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, according to a report that I just saw. Whether it's 6 or 5, but it looks like it's 6, $6 trillion in the Middle East, we could have rebuilt our country twice.
And it's really a shame. And it's politicians like Secretary Clinton that have caused this problem. Our country has tremendous problems. We're a debtor nation. We're a serious debtor nation. And we have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals. And we don't have the money, because it's been squandered on so many of your ideas.
HOLT: We'll let you respond and we'll move on to the next segment.
CLINTON: And maybe because you haven't paid any federal income tax for a lot of years. (APPLAUSE)
And the other thing I think is important...
TRUMP: It would be squandered, too, believe me.
CLINTON: ... is if your -- if your main claim to be president of the United States is your business, then I think we should talk about that. You know, your campaign manager said that you built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys.
And, indeed, I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald. I've met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers, like my dad was, who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do.
We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It's a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn't pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do...
TRUMP: Maybe he didn't do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work...
CLINTON: Well, to...
TRUMP: Which our country should do, too.
CLINTON: Do the thousands of people that you have stiffed over the course of your business not deserve some kind of apology from someone who has taken their labor, taken the goods that they produced, and then refused to pay them?
I can only say that I'm certainly relieved that my late father never did business with you. He provided a good middle-class life for us, but the people he worked for, he expected the bargain to be kept on both sides.
And when we talk about your business, you've taken business bankruptcy six times. There are a lot of great businesspeople that have never taken bankruptcy once. You call yourself the King of Debt. You talk about leverage. You even at one time suggested that you would try to negotiate down the national debt of the United States.
TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.
CLINTON: Well, sometimes there's not a direct transfer of skills from business to government, but sometimes what happened in business would be really bad for government.
HOLT: Let's let Mr. Trump...
CLINTON: And we need to be very clear about that.
TRUMP: So, yeah, I think -- I do think it's time. Look, it's all words, it's all sound bites. I built an unbelievable company. Some of the greatest assets anywhere in the world, real estate assets anywhere in the world, beyond the United States, in Europe, lots of different places. It's an unbelievable company.
But on occasion, four times, we used certain laws that are there. And when Secretary Clinton talks about people that didn't get paid, first of all, they did get paid a lot, but taken advantage of the laws of the nation.
Now, if you want to change the laws, you've been there a long time, change the laws. But I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I'm running a company. My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies. And that's what I do.
But what she doesn't say is that tens of thousands of people that are unbelievably happy and that love me. I'll give you an example. We're just opening up on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the White House, so if I don't get there one way, I'm going to get to Pennsylvania Avenue another.
On the birther debate
HOLT: Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation's first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: The president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?
TRUMP: I'll tell you very -- well, just very simple to say. Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and close -- very close friend of Secretary Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle, went to -- during the campaign, her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. And you can go look it up, and you can check it out.
TRUMP: And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She failed to get the birth certificate.
When I got involved, I didn't fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. So I'm satisfied with it. And I'll tell you why I'm satisfied with it.
HOLT: That was...
TRUMP: Because I want to get on to defeating ISIS, because I want to get on to creating jobs, because I want to get on to having a strong border, because I want to get on to things that are very important to me and that are very important to the country.
HOLT: I will let you respond. It's important. But I just want to get the answer here. The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You've continued to tell the story and question the president's legitimacy in 2012, '13, '14, '15...
HOLT: .... as recently as January. So the question is, what changed your mind?
TRUMP: Well, nobody was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it. I figured you'd ask the question tonight, of course. But nobody was caring much about it. But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job.
Secretary Clinton also fought it. I mean, you know -- now, everybody in mainstream is going to say, oh, that's not true. Look, it's true. Sidney Blumenthal sent a reporter -- you just have to take a look at CNN, the last week, the interview with your former campaign manager. And she was involved. But just like she can't bring back jobs, she can't produce.
HOLT: I'm sorry. I'm just going to follow up -- and I will let you respond to that, because there's a lot there. But we're talking about racial healing in this segment. What do you say to Americans, people of color who...
TRUMP: Well, it was very -- I say nothing. I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it. He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing.
But let me just tell you. When you talk about healing, I think that I've developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African-American community. I think you can see that.
And I feel that they really wanted me to come to that conclusion. And I think I did a great job and a great service not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate.
HOLT: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, just listen to what you heard.
And clearly, as Donald just admitted, he knew he was going to stand on this debate stage, and
But it can't be dismissed that easily. He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted, he persisted year after year, because some of his supporters, people that he was trying to bring into his fold, apparently believed it or wanted to believe it.
But, remember, Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the
So he has a long record of engaging in racist behavior. And the birther lie was a very hurtful one. You know, Barack Obama is a man of great dignity. And I could tell how much it bothered him and annoyed him that this was being touted and used against him.
But I like to remember what Michelle Obama said in her amazing speech at our Democratic National Convention: When they go low, we go high. And Barack Obama went high, despite Donald Trump's best efforts to bring him down.
HOLT: Mr. Trump, you can respond and we're going to move on to the next segment.
TRUMP: I would love to respond. First of all, I got to watch in preparing for this some of your debates against Barack Obama. You treated him with terrible disrespect. And I watched the way you talk now about how lovely everything is and how wonderful you are. It doesn't work that way. You were after him, you were trying to -- you even sent out or your campaign sent out pictures of him in a certain garb, very famous pictures. I don't think you can deny that.
But just last week, your campaign manager said it was true. So when you tried to act holier than thou, it really doesn't work. It really doesn't.
Now, as far as the lawsuit, yes, when I was very young, I went into my father's company, had a real estate company in Brooklyn and Queens, and we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country -- it was a federal lawsuit -- were sued. We settled the suit with zero -- with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do.
TRUMP: I notice you bring that up a lot. And, you know, I also notice the very nasty commercials that you do on me in so many different ways, which I don't do on you. Maybe I'm trying to save the money.
But, frankly, I look -- I look at that, and I say, isn't that amazing? Because I settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt, but that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it's just one of those things.
I'll go one step further. In Palm Beach, Florida, tough community, a brilliant community, a wealthy community, probably the wealthiest community there is in the world, I opened a club, and really got great credit for it. No discrimination against African- Americans, against Muslims, against anybody. And it's a tremendously successful club. And I'm so glad I did it. And I have been given great credit for what I did. And I'm very, very proud of it. And that's the way I feel. That is the true way I feel.
On national security
HOLT: You mention ISIS, and we think of ISIS certainly as over there, but there are American citizens who have been inspired to commit acts of terror on American soil, the latest incident, of course, the bombings we just saw in New York and New Jersey, the knife attack at a mall in Minnesota, in the last year, deadly attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando. I'll ask this to both of you. Tell us specifically how you would prevent homegrown attacks by American citizens, Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: Well, first I have to say one thing, very important. Secretary Clinton is talking about taking out ISIS. "We will take out ISIS." Well, President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out -- what, they shouldn't have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.
So she talks about taking them out. She's been doing it a long time. She's been trying to take them out for a long time. But they wouldn't have even been formed if they left some troops behind, like 10,000 or maybe something more than that. And then you wouldn't have had them.
Or, as I've been saying for a long time, and I think you'll agree, because I said it to you once, had we taken the oil -- and we should have taken the oil -- ISIS would not have been able to form either, because the oil was their primary source of income. And now they have the oil all over the place, including the oil -- a lot of the oil in Libya, which was another one of her disasters.
HOLT: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard. Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.
CLINTON: That is absolutely proved over and over again.
TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.
CLINTON: He actually advocated for the actions we took in Libya and urged that Gadhafi be taken out, after actually doing some business with him one time.
CLINTON: But the larger point -- and he says this constantly -- is George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama.
And the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that.
But let's talk about the question you asked, Lester. The question you asked is, what do we do here in the United States? That's the most important part of this. How do we prevent attacks? How do we protect our people?
And I think we've got to have an intelligence surge, where we are looking for every scrap of information. I was so proud of law enforcement in New York, in Minnesota, in New Jersey. You know, they responded so quickly, so professionally to the attacks that occurred by
So we've got to do everything we can to vacuum up intelligence from Europe, from the Middle East. That means we've got to work more closely with our allies, and that's something that Donald has been very dismissive of.
We're working with
They're on the front lines. They can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else. They need to have close working cooperation with law enforcement in these communities, not be alienated and pushed away as some of Donald's rhetoric, unfortunately, has led to.
HOLT: Mr. Trump...
TRUMP: Well, I have to respond.
HOLT: Please respond.
TRUMP: The secretary said very strongly about working with -- we've been working with them for many years, and we have the greatest mess anyone's ever seen. You look at the Middle East, it's a total mess. Under your direction, to a large extent.
But you look at the Middle East, you started the Iran deal, that's another beauty where you have a country that was ready to fall, I mean, they were doing so badly. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they're going to be actually probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they're going.
But when you look at NATO, I was asked on a major show, what do you think of NATO? And you have to understand, I'm a businessperson. I did really well. But I have common sense. And I said, well, I'll tell you. I haven't given lots of thought to NATO. But two things.
Number one, the 28 countries of NATO, many of them aren't paying their fair share. Number two -- and that bothers me, because we should be asking -- we're defending them, and they should at least be paying us what they're supposed to be paying by treaty and contract.
And, number two, I said, and very strongly, NATO could be obsolete, because -- and I was very strong on this, and it was actually covered very accurately in the New York Times, which is unusual for the New York Times, to be honest -- but I said, they do not focus on terror. And I was very strong. And I said it numerous times.
And about four months ago, I read on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that NATO is opening up a major terror division. And I think that's great. And I think we should get -- because we pay approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO. It's a lot of money to protect other people. But I'm all for NATO. But I said they have to focus on terror, also.
And they're going to do that. And that was -- believe me -- I'm sure I'm not going to get credit for it -- but that was largely because of what I was saying and my criticism of NATO.
I think we have to get NATO to go into the Middle East with us, in addition to surrounding nations, and we have to knock the hell out of ISIS, and we have to do it fast, when ISIS formed in this vacuum created by Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton. And believe me, you were the ones that took out the troops. Not only that, you named the day. They couldn't believe it. They sat back probably and said, I can't believe it. They said...
CLINTON: Lester, we've covered...
TRUMP: No, wait a minute.
CLINTON: We've covered this ground.
TRUMP: When they formed, when they formed, this is something that never should have happened. It should have never happened. Now, you're talking about taking out ISIS. But you were there, and you were secretary of state when it was a little infant. Now it's in over 30 countries. And you're going to stop them? I don't think so.
HOLT: Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your...
TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.
HOLT: In 2002...
TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she -- frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.
HOLT: My question is, since you supported it...
TRUMP: Just -- would you like to hear...
HOLT: ... why is your -- why is your judgment...
TRUMP: Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.
HOLT: The record shows otherwise, but why -- why was...
TRUMP: The record does not show that.
HOLT: Why was -- is your judgment any...
TRUMP: The record shows that I'm right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone's asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don't know, maybe, who knows? Essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox. And Sean Hannity said -- and he called me the other day -- and I spoke to him about it -- he said you were totally against the war, because he was for the war.
HOLT: Why is your judgment better than...
TRUMP: And when he -- excuse me. And that was before the war started. Sean Hannity said very strongly to me and other people -- he's willing to say it, but nobody wants to call him. I was against the war. He said, you used to have fights with me, because Sean was in favor of the war.
And I understand that side, also, not very much, because we should have never been there. But nobody called Sean Hannity. And then they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started. I think in '04. But they did an article which had me totally against the war in Iraq.
And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, Trump was definitely -- because if you read this article, there's no doubt. But if somebody -- and I'll ask the press -- if somebody would call up Sean Hannity, this was before the war started. He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said, it's a terrible and a stupid thing. It's going to destabilize the Middle East. And that's exactly what it's done. It's been a disaster.
HOLT: My reference was to what you had said in 2002, and my question was...
TRUMP: No, no. You didn't hear what I said.
HOLT: Why is your judgment -- why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton's judgment?
TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There's no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?
HOLT: Mr. Trump, this year Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major party. Earlier this month, you said she doesn't have, quote, "a presidential look." She's standing here right now. What did you mean by that?
TRUMP: She doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina. I said she doesn't have the stamina. And I don't believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.
HOLT: The quote was, "I just don't think she has the presidential look."
TRUMP: You have -- wait a minute. Wait a minute, Lester. You asked me a question. Did you ask me a question?
You have to be able to negotiate our trade deals. You have to be able to negotiate, that's right, with Japan, with Saudi Arabia. I mean, can you imagine, we're defending Saudi Arabia? And with all of the money they have, we're defending them, and they're not paying? All you have to do is speak to them. Wait. You have so many different things you have to be able to do, and I don't believe that Hillary has the stamina.
HOLT: Let's let her respond.
CLINTON: Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.
TRUMP: The world -- let me tell you. Let me tell you. Hillary has experience, but it's bad experience. We have made so many bad deals during the last -- so she's got experience, that I agree.
But it's bad, bad experience. Whether it's the Iran deal that you're so in love with, where we gave them $150 billion back, whether it's the Iran deal, whether it's anything you can -- name -- you almost can't name a good deal. I agree. She's got experience, but it's bad experience. And this country can't afford to have another four years of that kind of experience.
HOLT: We are at -- we are at the final question.
CLINTON: Well, one thing. One thing, Lester.
HOLT: Very quickly, because we're at the final question now.
CLINTON: You know, he tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said...
TRUMP: I never said that.
CLINTON: .... women don't deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.
TRUMP: I didn't say that.
CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman "Miss Piggy." Then he called her "Miss Housekeeping," because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
TRUMP: Where did you find this?
CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet...
TRUMP: Oh, really?
CLINTON: ... she's going to vote this November.
TRUMP: OK, good. Let me just tell you...
HOLT: Mr. Trump, could we just take 10 seconds and then we ask the final question...
TRUMP: You know, Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it's said in entertainment. Some of it's said -- somebody who's been very vicious to me, Rosie O'Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.
But you want to know the truth? I was going to say something...
HOLT: Please very quickly.
TRUMP: ... extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, "I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate. It's not nice." But she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. They're untrue. And they're misrepresentations.
And I will tell you this, Lester: It's not nice. And I don't deserve that.
But it's certainly not a nice thing that she's done. It's hundreds of millions of ads. And the only gratifying thing is, I saw the polls come in today, and with all of that money...
HOLT: We have to move on to the final question.
TRUMP: ... $200 million is spent, and I'm either winning or tied, and I've spent practically nothing.
Get our Essential Politics newsletter
The latest news, analysis and insights from our bureau chiefs in Sacramento and D.C.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.