Hillary Clinton got grilled, again, about her email practices, and Donald Trump got asked why he is going to order generals to devise a defeat-ISIS plan if he already knows more about ISIS than they do. This time around, the questions were posed by Matt Lauer when the candidates appeared tonight on NBC News’s first Commander-in-Chief Forum.
“I have a lot of experience dealing with classified material,” Clinton insisted stoutly during the MSNBC live telecast, adding that “classified material has a header which has ’top secret,’ ’secret,’ ‘confidential’ on it.
“Nothing — and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice – none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header,” she maintained.
As to his primary claim he knows more about ISIS than the generals, Trump blamed President Obama and Clinton for reducing said generals to “rubble.” The reality-TV stars insisted his “secret plan” to squash ISIS is not Ask The Generals.
“But when I do come up with a plan that I like,” he added, the generals’ plan may agree with his plan, “or maybe it doesn’t. I may love what the generals come back with.”
Wait. When he comes up with a plan?
Lauer too seemed confused by his answer and asked Trump if he really does have his own plan.
“I have a plan. But I don’t want to – look, I have a very substantial chance of winning,” Trump pivoted.
At one point, Lauer told Clinton she was using too many words, instructing her to “be as brief as you can” after she’d answered a question at greater length than he had hoped. He had many more questions on his list, he explained.
Answering a beauty-pageant question as to whether a President Hillary Clinton could guarantee people will be safer in four years than they are now, Clinton was again met with an impatient Lauer, who said, “We’ve got 30 seconds.”
During Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show that followed the forum, Col. Andrew Bacevich expressed disappointment with the event.
“As a discussion of national security issues and the sort of things we want to hear from a prospective commander-in-chief, it’s really been a missed opportunity,” Bacevich scolded.
“Questions they should have been asked on that score, they simply were not asked. And the couple of occasions that the question was posed, they evaded it. Before we wrap things up it seems to me it would be useful to surface the things that ought to be discussed when we are trying to understand the qualifications of somebody to be commander in chief. We did not hear that,” Bacevich continued.
Among the questions Bacevich said he did not hear:
— What have you learned from our unsuccessful wars of the past couple decades, and how would you apply those lessons?
— How do you feel about the Obama administration’s plan to spend a trillion dollars modernizing our nuclear weapons?
— How do you measure military power in a cyber age?
— What is your understanding of the complexities of the Syrian civil war?
“Those are the items that ought to be on a commander-in-chief’s agenda, and they weren’t even asked,” he said.
Tonight’s Commander-in-Chief Forum was billed as voters’ first chance to see Trump and Clinton head-to-head, even though they were not in the same place at the same time.
Lauer wasn’t the only one asking questions; a live audience of service members and veterans also got a crack at Clinton and Trump. Trump won the coin toss and chose to go second.
The live one-hour event, co-hosted by NBC News and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, took place at New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.