Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took turns Wednesday night discussing national security issues and each had their moments of awkwardness.
Clinton was peppered by NBC host Matt Lauer about her use of a private e-mail server and over her vote to authorize the war in Iraq. On both occasions the Democratic nominee for president admitted making a mistake.
For Trump, Lauer led him down a path that saw the Republican nominee praise Russian leader Vladimir Putin, disavow America’s current military leadership and claim that his 2013 statement that allowing men and women to serve together in the military would lead to sexual assault was “correct.”
It was an illustrative event and yet a frustrating one. NBC and Lauer took pains to squeeze as many questions into the hour-long forum as possible. Yet it led to awkward moments like when Clinton was asked how she would defeat ISIS and Lauer whispered, “as quickly as you can.”
Still, there were moments of clarity. Clinton vowed that, if elected, the U.S. would never again send troops into Iraq and no American boots would be on the ground in Syria. On the continuing controversy over her use of a private email server, Clinton said: ” I communicated about classified material on a wholly different system. I took it very seriously … I did exactly what I should have done. I take it very seriously.”
The two candidates appeared separately, with Clinton going first. In Trump’s portion of the program, he said his business experience qualifies him to be commander in chief.
“I built a great company,” he said. “I’ve been all over the world, tremendously well dealing with China and other countries that are just ripping this country.”
On the Iraq War, Trump said President Barack Obama failed in pulling U.S. troops from the country. We should not have pulled out with “the oil,” he said.
If we’re going to get out, take the oil.,” he said. “You wouldn’t have ISIS.”