On Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump participated in the Commander-In-Chief forum, a joint event sponsored by NBC News and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). Each candidate appeared separately for 30 minutes answering questions from active duty and retired military personnel on the topic of national security.
Air Date: Wednesday, September 7, 2016
IAVA Commander-in-Chief Forum
Candidates: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump
Moderator: Matt Lauer
Format: Candidates will appear separately on stage for about 30 minutes answering questions related to national security
Here is the full video of each candidate in the order they appeared. Hillary Clinton received the first segment, while Donald Trump took the latter.
Some highlights of the evening from the New York Times:
Here were the highlights of Mr. Trump’s segment (or check out our live analysis):
• Asked what experience has prepared him to be commander in chief, Mr. Trump began, “Well, I built a great company, I’ve been all over the world.” Pressed again, he said, “the main thing is, I have great judgment,” before arguing that he was, in fact, against the war in Iraq, citing an article from 2004, after the war began.
• Mr. Trump, confronted with past comments that he knew more about the Islamic State than generals do, said that generals under President Obama and Mrs. Clinton “have not been successful.” “I think under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble,” he said.
• Mr. Trump said that because he has “a very substantial chance of winning,” he would not detail counterterrorism plans and “broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.” He said that he might rely on “a combination of my plan and the generals’ plan” in formulating his approach.
Here were the highlights of Mrs. Clinton’s segment:
• Mrs. Clinton, taking the stage first, said that “steadiness, an absolute rock steadiness” was the most important quality in a commander in chief, in response to a question from Mr. Lauer. She has often taken pains on the campaign trail to depict Mr. Trump as too erratic to trust at the controls.
• Pressed by Mr. Lauer on her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton repeated that “it should not have been done,” insisting that she had not threatened national security.
• Asked about her vote as a senator to authorize the war in Iraq, Mrs. Clinton repeated that it was a mistake, then turned her attention to Mr. Trump, who has said he opposed the war. She cited an interview from the time in which Mr. Trump expressed support for the war. “My opponent was for the war in Iraq. He said he wasn’t,” Mrs. Clinton said. “You can go back and look at the record.”
You can read the rest of the points here. I watched the forum in full, hoping to gather some insight into how each candidate would be approaching the upcoming debates. The most contentious point of the evening had to be the portion where moderator Matt Lauer questioned Hillary Clinton on her email practices. This was an area she was clearly ready for, though it still felt awkward from a viewer standpoint. Donald Trump seemed more prepared than I thought he would be, clearly showing that perhaps he is taking the upcoming debates seriously as his chance to make inroads against Hillary.
I think the event was useful and viewers and I especially like the fact that the questions came from vets and active duty military members. Their voice is often overlooked during election cycles and this gave both candidates a venue to focus specifically on national security and foreign policy.