Here are some key issues Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump didn't discuss in the first debate

Getty Images

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seemed to discuss (or shout about) a whole raft of major issues during the first presidential debate on Monday night, from the Iraq War to American manufacturing to tax returns to emails. But there are some key topics that were either almost or entirely overlooked by both the candidates and moderator Lester Holt. Here are some big issues that got left out of the conversation.


Trump's views on immigration are fairly well-known: he would like to build a wall. Lots of things have shifted for him—how many people are leaving, how they'll leave—but his plan, which would cost about a hundred and a half billion dollars, has always included the wall. It's pretty shocking he didn't bring up the wall at the debate, to be honest, given how much he likes talking about the wall—or that Holt didn't bring up the topic, since it's been so central to his campaign. Clinton has supported a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants and said she would focus immigration raids on violent criminals. She has also said she would welcome Syrian refugees. But in a town hall with CNN in 2014, she said she would send unaccompanied children that cross the southern border back to their countries.



This has been a perennially overlooked topic during 2016 debates. It came up so rarely during Clinton's primary debates with Bernie Sanders that she wound up raising the issue herself when she got tired of not being asked about it. On Monday night, abortion was once again left unmentioned.


Trump has wavered over the years on his views on abortion, but has seemingly solidified his position during his campaign, going as far as to suggest that there should be "some sort of punishment" for women who have abortions. Last week, he announced a Catholic advisory group lead by former Sen. Rick Santorum, an infamously hardline anti-abortion politician, and released positions that affirm his belief that public funding for abortions are an "insult" to people of faith. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has been endorsed by NARAL, the largest reproductive rights organization in the country.

LGBTQ Rights

It was only a few months ago that 49 people were murdered at a gay nightclub in Florida, but you wouldn't know that if you were watching the debate, where the issue of queer rights never came up.


Clinton has a mixed record on LGBTQ issues; she has mostly come down firmly on the side of the queer community during her 2016 campaign, but she was very late in supporting same-sex marriage, only backing it when it was seemingly politically beneficial to her, and her comments on Nancy Reagan and AIDS were instantly infamous.  Despite whatever awful slogans some white gay men come up with, many queer people of color have serious issues with Clinton's policies.

Though he is more openly friendly to queer people than many other politicians—awkwardly proclaiming his love for "LGBTQ Americans" during the Republican National Convention in July—Trump's actual positions are not so tolerant. That  Catholic advisory group, along with many of his stated policies, are both extremely hostile; the "issue of importance to Catholics" Trump endorses is "religious liberty," a codeword for laws that legalize discrimination against queer people on "religious" grounds.


Gun Control

Guns only came up tangentially during the debate, and the issue of what to do about gun violence was never seriously tackled.


Clinton favors expanding background checks for potential gun buyers, closing legal loopholes that allow people to be sold guns before their background check is completed, when they are, and banning assault weapons. Trump says she wants to repeal the Second Amendment and that "she's coming for your guns."

Opioid Epidemic

This issue dominated both the Democratic and Republican primaries, but was left unaddressed on Monday.


Clinton has proposed a federal program that would encourage states to invest more money in fighting addiction, including providing first responders with naxolone and criminal justice reform that would divert nonviolent drug users to addiction programs. Trump, when asked, reaffirmed that he would build a wall.

Public Education

Trump's ideas on public education line up with many conservatives: Pro-charter schools, anti-Common Core, "get Washington out of our schools." He has suggested making student loans market-driven. Clinton is rhetorically pro-investment in public education, but has many ideological and personal ties to pro-charter reform movements.




Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.

Share This Story