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Clinton Hits Trump in Debate for Setting Bad Example for Children

By Alyson Klein — October 09, 2016 3 min read
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Democrat Hillary Clinton attacked her GOP rival for the White House, Donald Trump, for setting a bad example for the nation’s school children through derogatory rhetoric, as the two tangled in the second presidential nominees’ debate on Sunday.

Teachers, said Clinton, have seen an uptick in bullying in schools, thanks to Trump’s remarks on the campaign trail, which have included mimicking a reporter with a disability, as well as comments about Latinos and Muslims. Her criticism came on the heels of a National Education Association press conference, which criticized Trump for inspiring bullying in schools. (NEA has endorsed Clinton.)

But at least one researcher, Deborah Temkin, the director of education research for the nonpartisan Child Trends, told my colleague Evie Blad that it’s too early to say whether there has actually been an increase in bullying in schools during the campaign—or that Trump is to blame. More here.

And earlier in the evening, Clinton circled the issue of who would be a better role model, when one prospective voter at the town hall-style event asked both candidates if they thought they were setting a good example for children with their behavior in the campaign. Clinton asked the questioner if she was a teacher.

“I’ve heard from lots of teachers and parents about some of their concerns,” Clinton said. “About some of the things that are being said and done in this campaign. And I think it’s very important to make clear to our children that our country really is great because we’re good.”

Other than that, there were only brief nods to K-12 education during the debate, which was held at Washington University in St. Louis.

Clinton quickly referenced her plan for education, saying that part of her plan for national unity was making “sure we have the best education system from preschool to college and making it affordable and so much else.” She didn’t delve into her own plans to revamp K-12 policy, but you can read about them and see how they compare to Trump’s here.

And later in the debate, in response to a question about her record of public service, Clinton touted some of her work as first lady and in the Senate on behalf of children. She referenced her role in creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helps low-income kids get access to health care, as well as her efforts to bolster educational outcomes for children in foster care. And she showcased her early work with the Children’s Defense Fund, a non-profit organization, investigating educational opportunities for minority children and students in special education. More on Clinton’s record on education here.

For his part, Trump also gave a quick nod to education, saying that Clinton had failed during her time in the Senate to help “the inner cities” where education is “terrible.” And he added, “I’m going to help African-Americans, help Latinos, Hispanics. I’m going to help the inner cities.” (He didn’t get into his plan, which would call for taking $20 billion in current federal funding and creating a voucher program, but you can read about it here.)

The lack of policy specifics wasn’t really a surprise, given that just days before the debate, the Washington Post published a video from 2005 showing Donald Trump making lewd comments about women.

The video kicked off a surge of soul-searching within the GOP. Dozens of lawmakers—including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee—withdrew their support for Trump. And the controversy dominated the early part of the debate.

There’s just one more presidential debate to go before the election on Nov. 8. Clinton and Trump will meet for the last time on Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, Nev.


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