Delaware – Measured, competent, thoughtful and engaging – these are the words Delaware Senator Christopher Coons used to describe his experience with Hillary Clinton who, in his view, will be a win for Africa should she be the next president of the United States of America.
Coons recalled how he joined Clinton when she was secretary of state at the swearing in of the first female president in Africa. He is now hoping that he can once more join her in celebrating the first female president of the most powerful country in the world.
“It was Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second inauguration and it was an uncertain security situation because several of her opponents in the presidential election, who were previous combatants in a brutal civil war that lasted more than a decade, had not accepted her winning the presidential campaign. There were questions about whether or not it was safe for Hillary to go to the inauguration,” explained Coons.
He said he met Clinton on a plane after she had just returned from a trip to China and Germany. Coons said she was exhausted since she had travelled half way around the world in about a week or 10 days.
A red-eye flight
“Her aides sort of ran up to the plane and brought a change of clothes. We left late in the evening and arrived at 08:00 the next morning. It was a red-eye flight. If she slept more than eight hours I would be surprised; I didn’t,” he added.
Coons said when they landed in Monrovia it was hot, and despite a difficult political environment they attended the actual inauguration, meetings and an event at the American embassy.
“She was measured, competent, thoughtful and engaging. Her role at the inauguration was appropriately understated. Her role in meetings with President Sirleaf and members of the cabinet was constructive and forward-leaning. Her role with some of the political forces in Liberia that were not supportive was constructive.
“Here is someone who worked hard, who worked a long full day and she then got onto the plane and went on to Togo, Nigeria and another country,” said Coons.
A win for Africa
“If Clinton is our next president, we will have a president who deeply understands Africa – who understands diplomacy, who understands how to lead in a complex and dangerous world environment and how to lead with America’s values and strengths in a way that I respect. I cannot say the same about Donald Trump.”
Coons said there are plenty of reasons to question or challenge the foundations on which real estate mogul Trump built his campaign.
“The things that are suppose to be his greatest strengths and accomplishments, I think you can find questions or reasons to challenge each one of them, from his conduct as a businessman to his truthfulness in the campaign.”
He said what troubles him most about Trump is his combination of casually questioning and tossing aside critical foreign commitments. Coons said this includes the Nato alliance, the nuclear umbrella provided to Japan and South Korea and the place of the US in the world as a country committed to tolerance and inclusion.
Coons also took issue with Trump’s bullying tactics and insults, particularly against war hero John McCain and the American-Muslim army captain who was killed in Iraq.
He noted that he found it “deeply troubling that this is a close election”.
Although Trump, who is a political novice, unexpectedly claimed the Republican presidential nomination, he is nearly tied in recent polls against Clinton who has strong political credentials.
Round one done – presidential debate
Americans are digesting the first of three presidential debates between Clinton and Trump, who for the first time in the campaign came face to face.
First debates are considered powerful, because it’s a time when some voters begin to pay close attention to the presidential hopefuls.
Clinton looked confident in a red pants suit, and Trump seemed upbeat in a grey suit and bright blue tie.
The 90-minute debate focused on forging a new economy that can create jobs and the challenge of overhauling America’s tax system.
Trump promoted tax cuts and blamed Clinton for bad trade deals, saying he would renegotiate with companies to keep them from closing shop to move abroad. “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us”, he said.
‘Trumped up trickle-down economics’
Clinton said his “trumped up trickle-down economics” only aim to benefit wealthy people, as she tried to portray herself as a champion for the middle class with plans to raise the minimum wage, close the gender pay gap and support debt-free college.
Trump criticised Clinton for using her private email account while she served as secretary of state, accusing her of dodgy dealings.
She responded with a simple apology. “I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake and I take responsibility for that.” But Trump responded by saying it was done on purpose. “That was not a mistake.”
Clinton went on to take a swipe at Trump for refusing to release his income tax forms, suggesting he has something to hide. “Maybe he is not as rich as he says he is,” she said. “Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people to know that he has paid nothing in federal taxes.”
When Trump said Clinton didn’t have the stamina to be president, she pointed out that he “is a man who called women pigs, slobs and dogs”.
Two more presidential debates are slotted for October 9 and 19.
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