Skip to navigationSkip to content

All of the questions Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump evaded during the three US presidential debates

  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

During the final US presidential debate, thanks to focused moderating by Chris Wallace, the country finally had a chance to hear Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump explain some of their positions on important policy matters. However, in all three debates, despite efforts by the moderators to get the candidates to actually answer hard questions, both Clinton and Trump routinely managed to dodge the more uncomfortable ones.

In some cases, the lack of answers was blatant: When asked what he would do to combat Islamophobia, for instance, Trump instead addressed radical Islamic terrorism. Clinton, when questioned about having different public and private stances on issues, found a way to reference the movie, Lincoln.

Overall, Trump was more evasive. From Syria to social security reforms, his shortage of answers appeared to stem more from lack of preparation than a calculated attempt to dodge questions. He was also pushed more by the moderators in all three debates. Clinton provided answers to many more questions than Trump in the first two debates, but dodged as many as he did in the last.

Here is a roundup of all the questions each candidate successfully evaded, and how many times they were asked it. Questions have been shortened for brevity and clarity.

First debate, moderated by Lester Holt

Questions evaded by Donald TrumpTimes asked
In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged that the president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?3
How are you going to bring back the industries that have left this country for cheaper labor overseas? How, specifically, are you going to tell American manufacturers that you have to come back?2
How you would prevent homegrown attacks by American citizens, Mr. Trump?1

Questions evaded by Hillary ClintonTimes asked
On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation’s longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy?1

Second debate, moderated by Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper

Question evaded by Donald TrumpTimes asked
What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls?3
Are you going to have a mandate that Americans have to have health insurance?2
What would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo?2
In the days after the first debate, you sent out a series of tweets from 3 am to 5 am, including one that told people to check out a sex tape. Is that the discipline of a good leader?2
[Reading submission from Facebook:] Trump says the campaign has changed him. When did that happen?1
How will you help [Muslims] deal with the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country after the election is over?1

Question evaded by Hillary ClintonTimes asked
What will you do to bring [health care] cost down and make coverage better?1
Is it OK for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance on issues?1

Third debate, moderated by Chris Wallace

Question evaded by Donald TrumpTimes asked
Would make a deal to save Medicare and Social Security that included both tax increases and benefit cuts?2
If we are able to push ISIS out of Mosul and out of Iraq, would you be willing to put US troops in there?1

Questions evaded by Hillary ClintonTimes asked
Why isn’t what happened and what went on between you and the Clinton Foundation [in Haiti], why isn’t it what Mr. Trump calls “pay to play”?2
You said this, “My dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders.” Is that your dream, open borders?1

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.