7 questions Hillary Clinton should have to answer in the first presidential debate


The first televised prime time presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is just days away.

The debate will take place at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday at Hofstra University in New York. NBC's Lester Holt will moderate.

These are some questions from Mic that we'd like to see asked and answered by the Democratic candidate.

1. As former secretary of state, how do you think U.S. policy contributed to the instability we see in the Middle East today?

In 2003, as New York senator, Clinton voted for the war in Iraq. She was opposed to the surge of U.S. troops there in 2007. And she supported the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, which many blame for the rise of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. As secretary of state, she pushed for intervention in Libya and has been widely blamed for the attack in Benghazi.

Trump blames policies pursued by Clinton and President Barack Obama for the unrest in the Middle East today, and Clinton played a vital role in his administration as his secretary of state.

During a speech in San Diego in June, according to Time, Clinton laid out a six-point plan for national security and fighting terrorism. "I have sat in the Situation Room and advised the president on some of the toughest choices he faced," she said.

2. You've been in politics for decades. What's wrong with our current political system?

Clinton has been involved in politics since her days as a student at Wellesley College in the 1960s. She became the first lady of Arkansas in 1979 when her husband, Bill Clinton, was sworn in as governor. Then she was in the White House as first lady from 1993 to 2001.

From there Clinton went to Congress, as a junior senator for New York. She ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008, and went on to become Obama's secretary of state.

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Now she's back on the presidential campaign trail. "I want to fix our political system," Clinton said during a visit to Iowa in 2015. "I want to get things done. We have to start breaking down the divisions that have paralyzed our politics."

At a Democratic primary debate in February, opponent Bernie Sanders said Clinton was part of the problem. "Secretary Clinton does represent the establishment. I represent, I hope, ordinary Americans, and by the way, who are not all that enamored with the establishment," he said, according to the Washington Post.

3. You were for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now you are opposed to it. What exactly are your plans for trade reform?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

That group of nations, according to the New York Times, has "an annual gross domestic product of nearly $28 trillion that represents roughly 40% of global GDP and one-third of world trade."

In 2012, then-Secretary of State Clinton called the TPP "the gold standard" for trade deals, according to Politifact. CNN identified 45 instances of Clinton supporting the agreement.

The deal was completed in 2015, as Clinton began running for president. She then said she did not approve of the deal because it wasn't exactly what she was hoping for. "We have failed to provide the basic safety net support that American workers need in order to be able to compete and win in the global economy," she said, according to Politifact.


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4. How will Americans know that you aren't using a private server in the White House?

The investigation into Clinton's use of a private server at her home in New York while she was secretary of state has been widely covered by the media.

In 2015, Clinton said she used the private server "for convenience."

"It would have been better had I used a second email account," she said, according to Politico. "Looking back, it would have been smarter to use two devices." It was recently revealed that Clinton actually used up to 13 devices.

In the fall, Clinton apologized. "I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier. I really didn't perhaps appreciate the need to do that," she told ABC News. "What I had done was allowed, it was above board. But in retrospect, as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts. One for personal, one for work-related emails. That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility."

5. What role will your husband, Bill Clinton, play in your administration?

While it's still unclear what Bill Clinton will be called if Hillary Clinton is elected president, it's clear that the former president will remain in the spotlight.

"With respect to my own husband, I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that. But I will certainly turn to him as prior presidents have for special missions, for advice," Clinton said, according to NPR.

During a speech in May, Clinton said she would put her husband "in charge of revitalizing the economy, 'cause he knows what he's doing," CNNMoney reported then.

Mark Lennihan/AP

Bill Clinton's future role in the Clinton Foundation, which has come under scrutiny for alleged pay-to-play deals while Hillary Clinton was at the State Department, is still unclear.

Bill Clinton said the foundation did nothing wrong. "I have said, to the best of my knowledge, nobody ever got anything from the State Department because they supported the Clinton Foundation," he told PBS' Charlie Rose. "If they did and it was inappropriate, I would say that was wrong too."

An important policy role for the president's spouse wouldn't be unprecedented in a Clinton administration: Hillary Clinton played a major role in health care reform during her husband's presidency.

6. What would you do differently than President Barack Obama?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For voters looking to elect a Republican as president, Clinton's ties to the Obama administration and her agreement with him on many issues is great ammunition for the Trump campaign.

Obama and Clinton clashed when they ran against each other in the 2008 Democratic primary. After he won the election, he appointed her secretary of state. Now, in 2016, her record on the issues has been fairly in line with with the current, two-term president. Obama's job approval rating is 58%, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, the highest it's been since July 2009.

Clinton does differ with Obama on trade. The president supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while Clinton opposes it. And she is often regarded as being more hawkish than Obama when it comes to foreign affairs and military intervention.

7. In a recent poll, only 11% of respondents said they thought the term "honest and trustworthy" best describes you. Why do you think that is?

According to RealClearPolitics, Clinton's unfavorable rating is 54.6% among an average of several national polls.

In a recent interview for Humans of New York, Clinton said she knows she can come off as "cold or unemotional."

"I had to learn as a young woman to control my emotions," she said. "And that's a hard path to walk. Because you need to protect yourself, you need to keep steady, but at the same time you don't want to seem 'walled off.' And sometimes I think I come across more in the 'walled off' arena. And if I create that perception, then I take responsibility. I don't view myself as cold or unemotional. And neither do my friends. And neither does my family. But if that sometimes is the perception I create, then I can't blame people for thinking that."