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Politics

US presidential debate spells trouble for globalism

HEMPSTEAD, U.S. -- Globalization appeared to be the loser Monday as the presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump made clear that the world may see a more insular America regardless of who wins.

Initially treated as a fringe candidate, Trump unexpectedly secured the Republican nomination, winning over voters with his America-first message and unorthodox approach to campaigning. Though the real estate tycoon refrained from slinging insults during Monday's debate outside New York City, his nativist views were in evidence throughout.

Trump blasted allies such as Japan, South Korea, Germany and Saudi Arabia, claiming they do not pay a "fair share" of the costs of defense, such as for Japan's hosting of U.S. troops. On trade, he contended that countries such as Mexico and China are stealing American jobs.

Clinton, on the other hand, called for maintaining existing diplomatic and security policy. The former secretary of state referred pointedly to the "questioning and worries on the part of many leaders across the globe" stirred by Trump's campaign.

"I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them," she said.

Yet both candidates oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. The overriding sentiment that free trade costs U.S. jobs evoked the image of a more inward-looking nation than the superpower that once drove globalization.

The TPP is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's diplomatic "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific region and a key part of efforts to rein in China's aggressive assertion of maritime territorial claims. Neither Trump nor Clinton offered clear solutions on how to deal with China's rise, nor on how to tackle terrorism or North Korea's nuclear development.

Barbs about personal qualifications brought the strongest responses from the crowd. "I don't believe Hillary has the stamina" for tough negotiations with other countries, Trump said, alluding to suspicions about health concerns that have dogged his rival.

Clinton, meanwhile, questioned whether Trump is qualified to lead the country. "I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate," she said at one point. "You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president," she went on, to applause from the crowd.

She later cited claims by national security officials that Trump is "unfit to be the commander-in-chief," noting his apparent coziness with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With rational discussion of policy yielding no decisive blows, the emotion-driven mudslinging drew more attention. Clinton tried to tout her wealth of political experience and connections gained as a first lady, senator and secretary of state. But she struggled to land a solid hit against Trump, who has harnessed public frustration and anger at the political establishment.

Polls show a close race as the campaign enters its final stretch. The two remaining debates likely will do much to influence the outcome of the Nov. 8 election.

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