Posted by Nadia Aziz on September 27, 2016 in Blog

Yesterday we shared information on what the candidates have said about issues we expected to arise during the first presidential debate – and many of the topics were in fact discussed over the course of the 95 minute debate. That includes the government’s use of watch lists, profiling, surveillance, and domestic countering violent extremism programs. We’ve provided a brief snap shot of some of the candidates’ statements from the first debate and how AAI views the issues.


Civil Rights and Profiling:

Hillary Clinton: 

“Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think unfortunately too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other. And therefore I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions about, you know, why am I feeling this way?”  [NPR, 09/26/16]

But when it comes to policing, since it can have literally fatal consequences, I have said in my first budget we would put money into that budget to help us deal with implicit bias by re- training a lot of our police officers. I've met with a group of very distinguished, experienced police chiefs a few weeks ago. They admit it's an issue. They’ve got a lot of concerns. Mental health is one of the biggest concerns because now police are having to handle a lot of really difficult mental health problems on the street. They want support, they want more training, they want more assistance. And I think the federal government could be in a position where we would offer and provide that.” [NPR, 09/26/16]

“Stop and frisk was found to be unconstitutional. And in part because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do. Now I believe in community policing and in fact violent crime is one half of what it was in 1991; property crime is down 40 percent. We just don't want to see it creep back up.” [NPR, 09/26/16


Donald Trump:

“I do want to bring up the fact that you were the one that brought up the word super predator about young black youth. And that's a term that I think was that's been horribly met as you know. I think you've apologized for it. But I think it was a terrible thing to say. And when it comes to stop and frisk, you know, you're talking about taking the guns away. Well, I'm talking about taking guns away from gangs and people that use them.” [NPR, 09/26/16]

“In New York City, stop and frisk, we had 2,200 murders and stop and frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five hundred murders is a lot of murders. Hard to believe 500 is like supposed to be good? But we went from 2,200 to 500 and it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg. And it was terminated by our current mayor. But stop and frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City, tremendous beyond belief, so when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very big impact.” [NPR, 09/26/16]


AAI’s Take:

A wave of legislation following the September 11th attacks ushered in a new culture of government secrecy with the simultaneous abandonment of several core constitutional guarantees, including due process, privacy, and equal protection. In the U.S. our government uses profiling as a matter of policy in programs like the TSA SPOT program which is based on the idea of so-called “predictive profiling.” Read more about TSA SPOT and Post-9/11 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties


“No Fly, No Buy:"

 Hillary Clinton:

“Right now, and this is something Donald has supported, along with the gun lobby. Right now, we've got too many military-style weapons on the streets in a lot of places, our police are outgunned. We need comprehensive background checks and we need to keep guns out of the hands of those who will do harm and we finally need to pass a prohibition on anyone who is on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in our country. If you are too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun. So there are things we can do and we ought to do it in a bipartisan way.” [NPR, 09/26/16]


Donald Trump:

“First of all, I agree and a lot of people even within my own party want to give certain rights to people on watch lists and no-fly lists. I agree with you when a person is on a watch list or a no-fly list, and 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 I think we have to look very strongly at no-fly lists and watchlists and when people are on there, even if they shouldn’t be on there, we’ll help them, we’ll help them legally, we will help them get off. But I tend to agree with that. Quite strongly.” [NPR, 09/26/16


AAI’s take:

A lot of misinformation has been circulated about watch lists in connection to this renewed debate on gun control in the political sphere—stigmatizing Arab and Muslim Americans in the process. Rhetoric about preventing “suspected terrorists” or “anyone on the terror watch list” from buying guns, as well as the “No Fly, No Buy” catchphrase, are incredibly misleading. Read more here.

Please visit AAI’s Election Central to view complete Candidate Profiles. 

In case you missed the debate, fact-checkers heeded the calls of candidates to check their opponent’s claims and many major news outlets conducted extensive fact-checks of the debate claims. NPR has provided the debate transcripts with fact checks built right in - you can read it here.  Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight provided a post-debate synopsis of polls indicating that Secretary Clinton won the debate, however he cautioned that it will be a few days before the more reliable post-debate polls are released. Stay tuned to see how Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump’s performances played among voters.


The next debate will be between Vice Presidential Candidates Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine on October 4. Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate again on October 9 in St Louis, Missouri.