Commander-in-Chief Forum: Clinton Talks Emails, Trump Defends Stance on ISIS

Donald_Trump_Hillary_Clinton_NBC_Commander in Chief Split - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of NBC

Donald_Trump_Hillary_Clinton_NBC_Commander in Chief Split - Publicity - H 2016

Clinton and Trump fielded questions Wednesday for the first joint-candidate event of the general election.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each sat down with Matt Lauer on Wednesday for the first joint-candidate event of the general election, discussing national security, military and once again, Clinton's emails. 

NBC's Lauer moderated the Commander-In-Chief Forum, broadcast from New York's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, located in the Intrepid aircraft carrier on the Hudson River. The event was hosted by service organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Clinton and Trump each fielded questions from Lauer as well as a live audience comprising active-duty service members and veterans. 

The event began with Clinton onstage with the NBC host, who was first asked by Lauer, "What is the most important characteristic that a commander-in-chief can possess?"

Clinton answered "steadiness" and "temperament," which led Lauer to question her about her email.

"It was a mistake to have a personal account, I would certainly not do it again," said Clinton. But "none of the emails sent or received by me" were classified, she reiterated. 

On the Iraq War, Clinton told Lauer that "the decision to go to war in Iraq was a mistake," and her vote "was, from my perspective, my mistake."

She added: "We must learn what led us down that path so that it never happens again. I am asking to be judged on the totality of my record."

Responding to an audience question about military intervention, Clinton stressed that "I view force as a last resort, not a first choice." 

When it was Trump’s turn, Lauer told the GOP presidential candidate to “keep the attacks to a minimum” and began by asking him what prepares him to be commander-in-chief. “Can we afford to take that risk with you?” asked Lauer. 

“I think absolutely,” Trump said, referencing his recent trip to Mexico. “The people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government, that’s how well we did.”

Lauer pressed him on his past statements, including how he claims to know more about ISIS than President Barack Obama and Clinton. “She’s been there for 30 years," Trump said, pointing to Clinton's recent comments that she would have made different decisions in regards to Iraq.

"We need change, Matt,” he replied.

On Vladimir Putin, Lauer asked the GOP candidate what he thinks about getting a compliment from the Russian leader, which Trump stood by. "We're losing our jobs like we're a bunch of babies," Trump said. "He is really very much of a leader. The man has very strong control over a country.

"If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him." He concluded: "I think I'll be able to get along with him." 

What kind of homework is Trump doing now to prepare to be the commander-in-chief? Lauer asked. "How much time are you spending on this?"

"A lot," Trump said. "I feel I have a common sense on the various issues you're talking about." 

Lastly, Trump defended his judgment on military decisions, saying that he would be "a lot slower" in making decisions than Clinton, who "has a happy trigger." 

He also said a court system "almost doesn't exist" when asked about his plan to reduce sexual assaults in the military.

Social media was quick to latch onto Trump's remarks, with Clinton sharing the 2013 tweet that Lauer asked Trump about during the forum.

“It is a correct tweet. There are many people that think that’s absolutely correct,” Trump said about the post, which reads: "26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?"

He continued: “When you have somebody that does something so evil, so bad as that, there has to be consequences for that person. You have to go after that person. Right now, nobody is doing anything.”