The Cable

Battleground ’16: Not Up For Debate

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican pick Donald Trump faced off for the first presidential debate, setting the stage for the next six weeks of battle.

TOPSHOT - Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican nominee Donald Trump leave the stage after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican nominee Donald Trump leave the stage after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican pick Donald Trump faced off for the first presidential debate in New York on Monday night, potentially setting the stage for the next six weeks of battle. 

The forum was sparse on foreign policy details, and full of political platitudes and personality clashes. And yet in exchanges over trade, Russian-linked cyberwarfare, the Iran deal, and more, Clinton put Trump on defense by painting him as a man full of rhetoric — with no plan to make it reality. 

There are plenty of urgent questions left unanswered — and not just why the Republican nominee was sniffling. For example, how will the next president deal more successfully with Russia than the Obama administration has to stop the carnage in Syria, now that the ceasefire has collapsed and amidst a renewed push to sanction Damascus for using chemical weapons. At least some of those pressing questions are likely to be asked at the next, foreign policy-focused debate on Oct. 9. 

But after Trump and Clinton’s first faceoff, undecided members of the American public may spend the next few weeks leading up to Election Day demanding more answers of the candidates — particularly of Trump, for whom not preparing has been a point of pride.

“I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did,” Clinton said in New York. “And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

Sign up for FP’s Editors’ Picks newsletter here to receive Battleground ’16, our take on the presidential race, each Wednesday through November.


 

Clinton’s Debate Take on Trump: ‘Only Secret Is He Doesn’t Have a Plan’

Short on details but long on criticism, Trump is put on the defensive in a test of his preparedness to be commander in chief.

 


 

“When the president of the United States speaks, the world expects substance. Not a blistering tweet.”

The Arizona Republic, a newspaper in the Southwestern U.S., endorsed Hillary Clinton — its first time it has backed a Democrat over a Republican in a presidential contest since it began its publication around 1890.

 


 

From Reset to Realpolitik, Clinton’s New Hard Line on Moscow

As president, Hillary Clinton is prepared to take a much tougher stance on Russia than Trump — or even Obama. Syria’s civil war will be the first test.

Clinton’s aggressive approach to Moscow — that Putin cannot be trusted and must be met with force — diverts sharply from Trump’s cozy take. But it also commits her to a far more confrontational policy in Syria if elected, giving the clearest indication yet that there and elsewhere, she’d try to handle the Russian bear head-on.

 


 

Debate Gaffes, Platitudes and Absurdities On National Security

On nuclear weapons, war strategy and cyber threats, Trump stumbled and Clinton avoided specifics.

 


 

55.7%

Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the 2016 presidential election, compared to Trump’s 44.2% odds, according to FiveThirtyEight.

 


 

Trump and Clinton Try to Out-Israel the Other Ahead of New York Debate

In meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, the GOP nominee blames the Palestinians for the conflict and promotes his “wall,” while the Democratic nominee recommits to the two-state solution.

Sign up for FP’s Editors’ Picks newsletter here to receive Battleground ’16, our take on the presidential race, each Wednesday through November.

Photo credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Molly O’Toole is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, covering immigration, refugees, and national security. She was FP’s sole 2016 presidential campaign reporter, on the trail from New Hampshire to Nevada. Previously, she covered the politics of national security for Atlantic Media’s Defense One, where she reported from Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Before that, she was a news editor at the Huffington Post. Molly has also reported on national and international politics for Reuters, the Nation, The Associated Press, and Newsweek International, among others, from Washington, New York, Mexico City, and London. She received her dual master’s degree in journalism and international relations from New York University and her bachelor’s from Cornell University and in 2016 was a grant recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She will always be a Californian. @mollymotoole

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