The 2016 Presidential Debates are Now Over. Here Are Key Takeaways.

Posted: Oct 20, 2016 10:30 AM

Hillary and Trump have faced off on the debate stage for the last time; the 2016 presidential and vice presidential debates are finally over. If you feel like you’ve missed something—or simply need a refresher—here are the 15 most memorable moments from this year’s debates. 

The First Presidential Debate:

1. Trump and Hillary actually agree. 

As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that,” admitted Trump. “We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we're going to do, but perhaps we'll be talking about that later.”

Trump also seemingly agreed with Hillary on gun control in regards to the TSA’s no-fly list. 

“I agree with you,” Trump told Clinton. “When a person is on a watch list or a no-fly list. I have the endorsement of the NRA, which I’m very proud of. These are very, very good people, and they’re protecting the Second Amendment.”

“But,” he continued, “I think we have to look very strongly at no-fly lists and watch lists. And when people are on there, even if they shouldn’t be on there, we’ll help them, we’ll help them legally, we’ll help them get off. But I tend to agree with that quite strongly.”

2. The birther lieis finally put to bed.

Lester Holt asked Trump why, after so many years, he finally acknowledged that President Obama was born in the United States. 

Trump pointed out that Clinton and her staff were the ones who started the birther conversation back in 2008. 

“Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and [is a] close—very close—friend of Secretary. Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle...during...her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard,” said Trump. “And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, [a] 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.”

Holt then asked the question a second time; “The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You've continued to tell the story and question the president's legitimacy in 2012, '13, '14, ' recently as January. So the question is, what changed your mind?”

Trump’s answer: nobody was pressing the issue, or cared much about it. Trump also made sure to add that he was the one who got Obama to produce the birth certificate, something President Obama should have done a “long time before.”

“I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate,” Trump mentioned multiple times. “And I think I did a good job.”

At the end of his answer, he threw in a quick jab at Hillary: “Just like she can't bring back jobs, she can't produce.”

3. Trump says he is smartto not pay taxes.

In the weeks before the debate, Trump was being pressured to release his tax records but refused. Unsurprisingly, Holt brought it up during the debate, to which Trump fired back: "I will release my tax returns, against my lawyer's wishes, when she releases her 33,000 emails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release my tax returns.”

At this, the audience cheered. 

Naturally, Clinton ignored the email comment, placing the focus back on Trump. 

“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. Third, we don't know all of his business dealings,” she said. “Maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes.”

Trump interrupted with one of the most memorable lines of the night: "That makes me smart."

Trump’s tax returns were later released—and not by him. The New York Times published the records on October 2. 

4. Hillary renames Trumps economic plan.

After Trump explained his economic plans, Hillary was given a chance to respond. 

“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,” said Hillary. “I call it Trumped-up trickle-down, because that's exactly what it would be.”

5. Trump comments on Hillarys stamina.

Holt asked Trump about a comment he made about Hillary’s appearance earlier that month. 

“You said she doesn't have, quote, ‘a presidential look.’ She's standing here right now,” said Holt. “What did you mean by that?”

“She doesn't have the look,” replied Trump.“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.”

He later mentioned, “You have so many different things you have to be able to do, and I don't believe that Hillary has the stamina.”

The First (and Only) Vice Presidential Debate:

6. Its made known that more than half of Americans distrust Hillary.

Kaine was asked why 60 percent of voters think Hillary is untrustworthy. Pence decided to jump in.

“There’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton, and that's because they're paying attention.” 

7. Trumps taxes are brought upagain. 

“He stood on the stage last week, and when Hillary said you haven't been paying taxes, he said, ‘That makes me smart,’” mentioned Kaine. “So it's smart not to pay for our military? It's smart not to pay for veterans? It's smart not to pay for teachers? And I guess all of us who do pay for those things, I guess we're stupid.”

In the middle of Kaine’s rant, Pence pointed out that no one is going to pay more taxes than they have to. 

“Senator do you take all the deductions that you're entitled to?…I do.”

8. That Mexican thing.” 

Kaine repeatedly brought up Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexicans: 

“He started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals.”

”Trump during his campaign has called Mexicans rapists and criminals.”

“When Donald Trump says Mexicans are rapists and criminals…I can't imagine how you could defend that.”

”These guys say all Mexicans are bad.”

After the fifth time—“When Donald Trump says women should be punished or Mexicans are rapists and criminals”—Pence just had to say something. 

“Senator, you've whipped out that Mexican thing again.”

Needless to say, people weren’t impressed with the comeback. 

9. Pence shares his views on Syria and Russiaand they dont match Trumps.

During the debate, Pence discussed Russia’s role in the Syrian crisis, saying that America should “immediately establish safe zones, so that families and vulnerable families with children can move out of those areas, work with our Arab partners, real time, right now, to make that happen.”

Pence continued, saying, “The provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength. And if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime to prevent them from this humanitarian crisis that is taking place in Aleppo.”

Trump has not advocated anything Pence outlined. In fact, during the second presidential debate, Trump said he and Pence have not spoken on the issue, and that the two disagree. It became clear that Pence wishes to take a much firmer stance against Russia and the Assad regime than his running mate. 

10. Pence and Kaine come togethersort of.

Toward the end of the night, both candidates were asked to discuss a time when they struggled to balance their faith and public policy. Kaine answered first: “That’s an easy one for me.”

He explained how he’s a devout Catholic who tries to follow the teachings of his church in his personal life. He also said that his greatest struggle has been opposing the death penalty in a state that allows it. 

When it was Pence’s turn to answer he made sure to mention his appreciation and respect for Senator Kaine's “sincere faith.” Pence then went on to discuss how his faith has dictated his views on abortion: 

“The state of Indiana has also sought to make sure that we expand alternatives in health care counseling for women, non-abortion alternatives. I'm also very pleased at the fact we're well on our way in Indiana to becoming the most pro-adoption state in America. I think if you're going to be pro-life, you should -- you should be pro-adoption.”

This is one area where Pence and Kaine agree—sort of. Kaine said in the past that he, personally, is against abortion. However, he now stands by Hillary’s pro-choice platform.

“We support Roe v. Wade,” asserted Kaine. “We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own supportive partner, their own minister, but then make their own decision about pregnancy. That's something we trust American women to do.”

The Second Presidential Debate:

11. Trump casts the most memorable line of the night.

During the debate, Hillary said, “It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

To which Trump responded: “Because you’d be in jail.

Applause erupted from the audience. However, Anderson Cooper wasn’t pleased: “We want to remind the audience to please not talk out loud. Please do not applaud. You're just wasting time.”

Earlier in the night, Trump also told Hillary that if he becomes president he’s going have the attorney general get a special prosecutor to look into her “situation, because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.”

12.  The unexpected final question makes both candidates laugh. 

Karl Becker, one of the audience members, stood up and asked each of the candidates to do something completely unexpected: say something nice about one another.

“My question to both of you is, regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

Clinton didn't have much to say. 

“Look, I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don't agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that. And I think that is something that as a mother and a grandmother is very important to me.”

Trump said he considered Clinton’s statement to be a “very nice compliment,” whether it was meant to be or not. “I'm very proud of my children. And they've done a wonderful job, and they've been wonderful, wonderful kids. So, I consider that a compliment,” said Trump.

He then went on to answer Becker’s question.

“I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter,” said Trump. “I disagree with much of what she's fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases. But she does fight hard, and she doesn't quit, and she doesn't give up. And I consider that to be a very good trait.”

The Third Presidential Debate:

13. Hillary Clinton wanted the wall.

While discussing immigration, Hillary decided to criticize Trump for his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border. 

Trump saw the opportunity to remind Clinton that she, too, had supported something similar in the past.

“Hillary Clinton fought for the wall in 2006, or there about,” noted Trump. “Now, she never gets anything done, so naturally the wall wasn't built. But Hillary Clinton wanted the wall.”

Trump then criticized Clinton’s current plan. 

“She wants to give amnesty, which is a disaster and very unfair to all of the people that are waiting on line for many, many years," he said. "We need strong borders.”

Trump also mentioned that his plan includes expediting the citizenship process so that more immigrants are willing to take the legal route. “It’s a very inefficient process,” he mentioned. 

14. Hillary becomes a supporterof gun rights.

“I support the Second Amendment…I understand and respect the tradition of gun ownership. It goes back to the founding of our country,” Clinton said in an uncharacteristic change of tune.

“I also believe that there can be, and must be, reasonable regulation,” she said. “Because I support the Second Amendment, doesn't mean that I want people who shouldn't have guns to be able to threaten you, kill you or members of your family.”

Clinton continued saying she still disagrees with the 2008 Heller decision, which established our individual right to own a firearm within a federal enclave. 

“I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in that case, because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them. And the court didn't accept that reasonable regulation.”

15. Trump raises the issues of experience.

“The one thing you have over me is experience,” admitted Trump. “But it’s bad experience.”

Trump mentioned that Hillary, no doubt, has loads of political experience; she’s been involved in politics for over 30 years. But unfortunately, she hasn't accomplished much in that time. 

“For 30 years you've been in a position to help,” Trump told Clinton. “You talk but you don’t get anything done.”

Trump then explained what he has accomplished in those 30 years. 

“I’ve built a phenomenal company, and if we could run our country the way I’ve run my company we would have a country we would be so proud of. You would even be proud of it,” he told Clinton. 

16. Both fail to answer the final question well.

Chris Wallace ended the debate with a question about entitlements. 

“The biggest driver of our debt is entitlements, which is 60 percent of all federal spending,” mentioned Wallace. “Now, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has looked at both of your plans and they say neither of you has a serious plan that is going to solve the fact that Medicare’s going to run out of money in the 2020s, Social Security is going to run out of money in the 2030s, and at that time, recipients are going to take huge cuts in their benefits. So, in effect, the final question I want to ask you…is [would you] make a deal to save Medicare and Social Security that included both tax increases and benefit cuts, in effect, a grand bargain on entitlements?”

Guy summed up both candidates’ answers for us. 

Q was about entitlement reform. Trump pretends growth will fix it all. Hillary goes to tax increases & wants to EXPAND entitlements. FML.

— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) October 20, 2016

Make sure to keep these in mind as you cast your ballot on November 8.