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Russia & Syria in the Trump & Clinton 2nd Presidential debate

Here are excerpts from transcripts of Trump's and Clinton's references to Putin and to Syria in the context of the 2nd US presidential debate (Trump vs Clinton). There is complementarity between the Putin references and the Syria ones. We have put the moderator input in black, but Trump in red and Clinton in blue. I think people will find them interesting and get the sense of Trump being better on Syria and Russia than Clinton, by a mile, therefore less likely to start WW3. The debate was less real responses to questions or to the other candidate's arguments than a platform for each candidate. Readers may also be interested in a link to many on-line polls about the debate, collected here: The majority of these polls place Trump squarely as the winner of the debate, whereas Foxnews and one or two others placed Clinton as the winner. The comments under these polls are often interesting to read. We have also embedded the full debate inside the article.



MARTHA RADDATZ (Moderator) 9:54 PM

Thank you, Mr. Trump. I want to move on. This next question comes from
the public through the bipartisan open debate coalitions online form where
Americans submitted questions that generated millions of votes. This question
involves Wikileaks release of reported excerpts as Secretary Clinton paid
which she has refused to release and one line in particular in
which you, Secretary Clinton, reportedly say you need both a public and private
position on certain issues. So Tiu from Virginia asks is it okay for
politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a
private stance on issues? Secretary Clinton, your two minutes.


Well, as I recall, that was something I said
about Abraham Lincoln after having seen the wonderful Steven Spielberg movie
called Lincoln. It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the
Congress to approve the 13th amendment. It was principled and it was strategic.

And I was making the point that it is hard
sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do and you have to keep
working at it and yes, President Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he
used some arguments, convincing other people, he used other arguments. That was
a great -- I thought a great display of presidential leadership.

But you know, let's talk about what's really
going on here Martha, because our intelligence community just came out and said
in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning Putin and the Russian
government, are directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts, to
influence our election. And WikiLeaks is part of that as our other sites, where
the Russians hack information, we don't even know it's accurate information,
and then they put it out.

We have never in the history of our country been
in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to
influence the outcome of the election, and believe me, they’re not doing it to
get me elected. They're doing it to try to influence the election for Donald

Now maybe because he has praised Putin, maybe
because he says he agrees with a lot of what Putin wants to do, maybe because
he wants to do business in Moscow -- I don't know the reasons that we deserve
answers. And we should demand that Trump release all of his tax returns so that
people can see what are the entanglements and the financial relationships --


Well, I think I should respond because, so
ridiculous. Look, now she's blaming - she got caught in a total lie her papers
went out to all her friends at the banks, Goldman Sachs and everybody else, and
she said things, WikiLeaks that just came out and she lied.

Now she's blaming the lie on the late great Abraham
Lincoln. That's one that I haven’t - okay Honest Abe never lied. That’s the
good thing that's a big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you. That's a
big big difference, we're talking about some difference. But as far as other
elements of what she was saying I don't know Putin. I think would be great if
we got along with Russia because we could fight ISIS together as an example.
But I don't know Putin. But I notice anytime anything wrong happens they like
to say the Russians we don't know if it's Russian.

She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the
hacking, maybe there is no hacking. But they always blame Russia and the reason
they blame Russia because they think they are trying to tarnish me with Russia.
I know nothing about Russia. I know, I know about Russia but I know nothing
about the inner workings of Russia.

I don't deal there, I have no businesses there have
no loans from Russia.

Have a very very great balance sheet, so great that
when I did the old post office on Pennsylvania Avenue, the United States government,
because of my balance sheet, which they actually know very well, chose me to do
the old post office between the White House and Congress, chose me to do the
old post office, one of the primary things in fact perhaps the primary thing
was balance sheet.

But I have no loans with Russia. You could go to
the United States government and they would probably tell you that because they
know my sheet very well in order to get that development I had to have -- now
the taxes are very simple thing. As soon as -- first of all, I pay hundred of
millions of dollars in taxes. Many of her friends took bigger deductions.
Warren Buffett took a massive deduction. Soros, who is a friend of hers, took a
massive deduction. Many of the people that are giving her all this money that
she could do many more commercials than me gave her took massive deductions. I
pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes but but as soon as my routine
audit is finished, I'll release my returns I'll be very proud to. They’re
actually quite good.



MARTHA RADDATZ (moderator): The heartbreaking video of a five -year-old
Syrian boy named Omran sitting in an ambulance after being pulled from the
rubble after an airstrike in Aleppo, focused the world’s attention on the
horrors of the war in Syria, with 136 million views on Facebook alone.


But there are much worse images coming out of Aleppo every day now where
the past few weeks alone four hundred people have been killed, at least one
hundred of them children. Just days ago, the State Department called for a war
crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its allies
Russia for the bombardment of Aleppo. So this next question comes from social
media through Facebook. Diane from Pennsylvania asked, if you were president,
what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn't it a
lot like the Holocaust when the U.S. waited too long before we helped?
Secretary Clinton, we will begin with your two minutes.


Well, the situation in Syria is catastrophic.
And every day that goes by, we see the results of the regime by Assad in
partnership with the Iranians on the ground, the Russians in the air,
bombarding places, in particular Aleppo, where there are hundreds of thousands
of people, probably about 250,000 still left. And there is a determined effort
by the Russian Air Force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of
the Syrian rebels who are really holding out against the Assad regime. Russia
hasn't paid any attention to ISIS. They’re interested in keeping Assad in
power. So I, when I was Secretary of State, advocated. And I advocate today a
no-fly zone in safe zones.

We need some leverage with the Russians because
they're not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution
unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with
our partners and allies on the ground. But I want to emphasize that what is at
stake here is the ambitions and the aggressiveness of Russia.

Russia has decided that it's all in in Syria.
And they also decided who they want to see become president of the United
States, too. And it's not me. I've stood up to Russia. I've taken on pollutant
and others. And I would do that as president. I think wherever we can cooperate
with Russia, that's fine. And I did at Secretary of State, that’s how we got a
treaty reducing nuclear weapons. It’s how we got the sanctions on Iran that put
a lid on the Iranian nuclear program without firing a single shot. So I would
go to the negotiating table with more leverage that we have now. But I do
support the effort to investigate for crimes -- war crimes committed by the
Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.



First of all, she was there as the secretary of
state with the so called line in the sand.


No, I wasn’t. I was gone. I hate to interrupt
you but at some point, we need to do some fact checking.


Excuse me. You were in total contact with the White
House. And perhaps, sadly Obama probably still listened to you. I don't think
he would be listening to you very much anymore. Obama draws the line in the
sand, it was laughed at all over the world what happened. Now with that being
said, she talks tough against Russia. But our nuclear program has fallen way
behind. And they have gone wild with their nuclear program. Not good. Our
government should not have allowed that to happen. Russia is new in terms of
nuclear. We are old. We are tired. We are exhausted in terms of nuclear. A very
bad thing. Now, she talks tough, she talks really tough against Putin. And
against Assad. She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t even know who the
rebels are. Every time we take rebels. Whether it's in Iraq or anywhere else.
We are arming people. And you know what happens? They end up being worse than
the people. Look what she did and Libya with Gaddafi. Gadhafi is out. It’s a
mess. And by the way ISIS has a good chunk of their oil.

I’m sure you probably have heard that. It was a disaster.
Because the fact is that everything that she has done an foreign-policy has
been at the stake and it has a been a disaster. And if you look at Russia -- is
take a look at Russia and look at what they did this week. Where I agree she
was not there, but possibly she was consulted. We sign a peace treaty,
everyone's all excited. Well what Russia did with Assad, and by the way with
Iran who made very powerful with the dumbest deal I have ever seen in the
history of dealmaking with the Iran deal. With the 1.7 in cash, which is enough
cash to fill this room.

But look at that deal. Iran now and Russia are now
against us. So she wants to fight, she wants to fight for rebels. There’s only
one problem. You don’t even know who the rebels are.

And those three have now lined up because of our
weak foreign policy.


Mr.Trump, let me repeat the question. If you were president, what would
you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? And I want to remind
you what your running mate said. He said provocations by Russian need to be met
with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved with
airstrikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States
of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military
targets, of the Assad regime.


Okay. He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.


You disagree with your running mate?


We have to knock out ISIS. Right now Syria is
fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same. But Syria's
no longer Syria. Syria’s Russia and it’s Iran which she made strong, and Kerry,
and Obama made into a very powerful nation. And a very rich nation. Very, very
quickly. I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we
can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria.
They had a chance and that was the line.


What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls?


I think Aleppo is a disaster humanitarian-wise.


What do you think it will happen if it falls?


I think that it basically has fallen. OK? It
basically has fallen.

Let me tell you something, you take a look at
Mosul. The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy. We
have Mosul. They think a lot of the ISIS leaders are in Mosul. So we have a lot
of announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq, we will be
attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks. All of these bad leaders from
ISIS are leaving Mosul. Why can't they do it quietly why can't they do the
attack, make it a sneak attack. After the attack is made, inform the American
public that we have knocked out the leaders, we’ve had tremendous success.
People leave. Why do they have to say we're going to be attacking Mosul within
the next four to six weeks? Which is what they are saying. How stupid is our


There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological


I can't think of any.


It might be to help get civilians out.


Look, I have two hundred generals and admirals who
endorsed me. I have twenty one Congressional medal of honor recipients who
endorsed me. We talk about it all the time. They understand why can't they do
something secretively? Where they go in and they knock out the leadership. How
-- why would these people stay there? I’ve been reading now for weeks...


Tell me what your strategy is.


I have a reading for weeks about Mosul that is the
harbor between Raqqa and Mosul. This is where they think the ISIS leaders are.

Why would they be - they’re not staying there
anymore. They are gone. Because everybody is talking about how Iraq, which is
us with our leadership, goes in to fight Mosul. With these two hundred admirals
and generals, they can't believe it. All they say is this. General George Patton,
General Douglas MacArthur are spinning in their grave at the stupidity of what
we're doing in the Middle East.

You talk about diplomatic efforts, those have
failed. Ceasefires have failed. Would you introduce the threat of U.S. military
force beyond the no-fly zone against the Assad regime, to back up diplomacy?



I would not use American ground forces in Syria.
I think that would be a very serious mistake. I don't think American troops
should be holding territory, which is what they would have to do as an
occupying force. I don't think that is a smart strategy. I do think the use of
special forces, which we're using, the use of enablers and trainers in Iraq,
which has had some positive effects, are very much in our interest. And so I do
support what is happening. But let me --


So what would you do differently than the President Obama is doing?


Well, Martha, I hope that by the time I -- hope
by the time I am president that we will have pushed ISIS out of Iraq. I do
think that there is a good chance that we can take Mosul. And you know Donald
says he knows more about ISIS than the generals. No, he doesn't.


There are a lot of very important planning going
on. And some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area, as well as Kurdish
fighters that we all need to be in this. And that takes a lot of planning and
preparation. I would go after Baghdadi. I would specifically target Baghdadi
because I think our targeting of Al Qaeda leaders, I was involved in a lot of
those operations, highly classified ones, made a difference. So I think that
could help.


I would also consider arming the Kurds. The
Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there
is a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think that they should
have the equipment they need so that the needs of Kurdish and Arab fighters on
the ground are the principal way that we take Rocco after pushing ISIS out of

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