Donald Trump roared out of the gate early in tonight’s presidential debate, accusing Hillary Clinton of failing to deliver on improving the country’s many problems despite a lifetime spent in politics.

“I’d just ask you this,” Trump charged. “You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking of these solutions now? … You’re just starting to think of solutions. I will bring back jobs. You can’t bring back jobs.”

“I have thought about this quite a bit,” responded Clinton.

“Yeah, for 30 years,” Trump chided.

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Trump also vowed to finally release his tax returns — but only if Clinton makes public the 33,000 emails from her private email server that have been deleted.

Clinton acknowledged again she had made a mistake by using a private server while secretary of state and said she wouldn’t do it again.

“That was more than a mistake,” Trump said. “That was done purposely. When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment … so they’re not prosecuted. … I think it’s disgraceful and believe me, this country really thinks it’s disgraceful also.”

But Clinton accused Trump of keeping secret important details in his tax returns that could shine an important spotlight on past dealings that could affect his presidency, and tried to go after Trump on a subject he’s sensitive about — his wealth.

“Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is,” Clinton said. “There’s something he’s hiding. … Were he ever to get to the White House, what would be those conflicts? Who does he owe money to?”

In the opening stretch, Clinton joked she’d be getting “blamed for everything” by the end of the debate.

“Why not?” Trump retorted.

“Just join the debate by saying more crazy things,” Clinton said.

One of the most anticipated debates in modern politics began with a handshake.

“How are ya, Donald?” Clinton greeted the brash billionaire.

Some 100 million people were expected to watch the showdown at Hofstra University in New York, which would make it the highest-rated televised debate in political history.

Lester Holt of NBC News moderated.

Both campaigns played the expectations game in the days and weeks leading up to the faceoff.

Clinton was said to have spent hours in twice-a-day cramming sessions and mock debates, studying briefing books and even videos, trying to tap into the mind of the unpredictable and often brash billionaire.

Trump on the other hand laughed off the idea of extensively prepping for debates, opting instead to order cheesesteaks Thursday night in Philadelphia and continuing to campaign over the weekend.

Clinton’s team suggested Mark Cuban, the billionaire sports owner who has mocked Trump in recent months, would be sitting in the front row. That led to Trump countering he might consider saving a similar seat for Gennifer Flowers.

The debate is expected to have a major impact on the deadlocked race.

About 86 percent of likely voters were expected to watch the debate, according to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll released yesterday.

Some 16 percent said the debate could change their minds — a significant number in a race where both Clinton and Trump have consistently been separated by only a few points.

Clinton has done a better job of convincing people within her party to vote for her, but Trump hoped to close that gap in part with his endorsement from hard-line conservative Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Clinton struggles to connect with young voters who flocked to President Obama in 2008 and 2012. Clinton is hoping to fix that tomorrow when she campaigns alongside millennial darling Bernie Sanders at the University of New Hampshire.


(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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