Forum puts focus on how Clinton is judged compared to Trump

Published 10:35 am Friday, September 9, 2016

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — For months, Hillary Clinton’s supporters have griped that she’s held to a higher, harder standard than Donald Trump. After Wednesday night’s forum on national security, those complaints became a rallying cry.

In the opening segment of the made-for-TV event, moderator Matt Lauer interrupted Clinton’s answer to his first question, about what it takes to be commander in chief, to set up 10 minutes of questions about her use of a private email system and her vote for the Iraq war.

Trump seemed to skate by a half hour later as he repeated — unchallenged — the false claim that he was against the war, even though he voiced support for it in a 2002 interview. When Lauer introduced a question about how the Republican nominee is boning up on issues, he told Trump, “nobody would expect you” to have delved deeply into foreign policy.

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The forum underscored a debate that’s rapidly becoming a focal point in the race: Is the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. party being judged fairly? Clinton’s answer, unsurprisingly, is no.

“I don’t understand the reason for it,” Clinton said Thursday. “I find it frustrating, but it’s just part of the landscape that we live in and we just keep forging ahead.”

Throughout his White House campaign, Trump has repeatedly defied the conventional rules of politics, winning his party’s nomination despite a history of corporate bankruptcies and lawsuits that would have sunk a more traditional candidate. With impunity, he repeats statements debunked by fact checkers.

Two months before Election Day, Trump’s policies remain largely unformed. In some cases, as with his plans to defeat the Islamic State group, Trump says they’re purposefully shrouded in secrecy. At the forum, he said the best way to address sexual assault inside the armed services would be to “set up a court system within the military” — something that has existed since the Revolutionary War.