In the lead-up to the first presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump on Monday, many noted the stark difference in debate style between the two. Clinton is traditionally prepared, concise, and logical, while Trump seems to prefer an emotion-driven, extemporaneous approach. As for how both of those approaches fared on Monday night, at least one thing was clear: Hillary Clinton's closing statement at the first presidential debate was fierce and on point, and it certainly spoke to the preparation that the candidate put into it.
Clinton's remarks were an especially important aspect of the debate because they provided one of the few times that she was unmolested by Trump, who is notorious for flaring emotions and flagrant departures from fact. According to The Washington Post, Clinton's campaign team even hired a mock Trump as part of their debate preparations. This mock Trump — a.k.a. longtime aide Phillippe Reines — reportedly "deeply studied Trump's personality" and attempted to imitate Trump's demeanor during practice debate sessions.
At the end of the day, though, Clinton's desire was to communicate her policy objectives to the American public, not battle with a sophomoric personality. Clinton's team told The Post that they saw the debate "as a chance for her to present what she actually hopes to accomplish as president and to ease voters’ deep concerns about her likability and trustworthiness." Luckily, Clinton's penultimate remarks on the topic of the U.S.'s responsibilities as a nuclear-armed country provided her a two-minute space to do just that.
Clinton's overall performance at Monday's debate was an echo of her successful performance at the final primary debate back in February, when she went on the offense against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton somehow managed to fit every issue in the book into her closing words at that debate: LGBT equality, equal pay for equal work, the struggles of the middle class, Wall Street, big oil, and increased wages. She even threw in a stark mental image: She closed her hand emphatically around an imaginary heart while talking about "governors like Scott Walker and others trying to rip out the heart of the American middle class."
That, of course, was a memorable performance. But tonight's was even better. As the debate was winding down, moderator Lester Holt alerted the candidates that they were now entering the "last segment here, on the subject of securing America." Holt then asked the candidates whether they support the country's "current policy" on nuclear weapon "first use."
As it would unexpectedly turn out, Holt's question about nuclear weapon policy became the last clear question of the night, because the debate took a bizarre turn at the very end, with the candidates sidetracking into a disorganized discussion of whether Clinton has a "presidential look."
Below is a full transcription of Clinton's closing remarks about the United States and global nuclear policy. The remarks show that Clinton is a strong and self-assured world leader with a clear grasp of the global political situation:
Let me start by saying: Words matter. Words matter when you run for president, and they really matter when are are president. And I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, that we have mutual defense treaties, and we will honor them. It’s essential that America’s word be good. And I know that this campaign has caused some questioning and some worries on the part of many leaders across the globe; I’ve talked with a number of them. But I want to, on behalf of myself, and I think on behalf of the majority of the American people, say that, you know, our word is good.
It’s also important that we look at the entire global situation. There’s no doubt that we have other problems with Iran, but personally, I’d rather deal with the other problems having put that lid on their nuclear program than still to be facing that.
And Donald never tells you what he would do. Would he have started a war? Would he have bombed Iran? If he's going to criticize a deal that has been very successful in giving us access to Iranian facilities that we never had before, then he should tell us what his alternative would be. But it's like his plan to defeat ISIS -- he says it's a secret plan, but the only secret is that he has no plan. So we need to be more precise in how we talk about these issues.
People around the world follow our presidential campaigns so closely, trying to get hints about what we will do. Can they rely on us? Are we going to lead the world with strength and in accordance with our values? That's what I intend to do. I intend to be a leader of our country that people can count on, both here at home and around the world. To make decisions that will further peace and prosperity. But also to stand up to bullies, whether they are abroad or at home. We cannot let those who would try to destabilize the world interfere with American interests and security.
It's pretty clear to see just how power-packed Clinton was tonight.