Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head-to-head Wednesday in a debate that focused more on policy than scandal and touched on everything from immigration to abortion.
The substantive debate kept the KHOU Verify fact checkers busy. They started with the candidates’ debate over immigration.
“Hillary wants to give amnesty. She wants to have open borders,” Trump said early on in the debate. “We have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out. We’re going to get them out; we’re going to secure the border and then at a later date we’ll make a determination as to the rest.”
Clinton followed up by saying, “I don’t want to rip families apart. I don’t want to see the deportation force that Donald has talked about in action in our country.”
Our fact checkers found that Trump told the Wall Street Journal he would call for the “deportation of millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and for the end of automatic citizenship for children born to foreigners on U.S. soil."
Clinton, meanwhile, has laid out her immigration plan on her website. She hasn’t gone as far as to advocate for amnesty, but has said there should be a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants.
As for Trump’s “open borders” claim, in an email released in the last few days by WikiLeaks, a speech transcript revealed that Clinton did call for a different kind of open borders, saying, “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, sometime in the future.”
The debate continued down the road of foreign policy and whether the ability for the two candidates to fill the position of commander in chief.
Clinton said people with the nuclear codes said they wouldn’t trust Trump to lead.
“Ten people who have had that awesome responsibility have come out and in an unprecedented way they said they would not trust Donald Trump to have access to the nuclear codes or his finger on the button,” she said.
Our fact checkers found that is true. The Washington Post reported that 10 former nuclear launch control officers did sign a letter saying, “He should not be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes. He should not have his finger on the button.”
But Trump countered by saying, “I have 200 generals and admirals, 21 endorsing me, 21 congressional medal of honor recipients.”
Although Trump has received many endorsements, Wednesday, those numbers appear exaggerated. Eighty-eight retired U.S. generals and admirals sent an open letter of endorsement for him, and only 14 medal of honor recipients endorsed him, according to the Military Times.
The night then turned to a topic that hasn’t been touched much this election cycle: abortion.
“He has said that there should be some form of punishment for women who get some kind of abortion, and I couldn’t be more opposed to that kind of thinking,” Clinton said of Trump’s anti-abortion stance.
It is true that in a March town hall on MSNBC, Trump had this back and forth with Chris Matthews:
“MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
However, Trump later backtracked and said that he misunderstood the question. He issued a statement saying he meant doctors who perform illegal abortions should be punished.
As for Clinton, she said she would protect women’s right to choose, but Trump said she takes it too far with her support of late-term partial birth abortion.
“If you go with what Hilary is saying, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. You can say that’s OK, but it’s not OK with me...You can take the baby and rip the baby in the 9th month, on the final day and that’s not acceptable,” Trump said.
Clinton countered with: “Well, that’s not what happens in these cases, and using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate.”
However, our fact checkers found that Clinton supports late-term abortions – abortions after 20 weeks -- but with restrictions. In an interview with Meet the Press, Clinton said she could support third-trimester abortions if the health of the mother and child are in danger. It’s not clear whether that would reach to nine months.