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Crash Course 2016: Where Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Stand on the Issues

A users-guide to the 2016 presidential match-up between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton speak at the Commander-in-Chief Forum.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton speak at the Commander-in-Chief Forum.Reuters: AP

Here's the quick guide to where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on the issues.


Trump: This is Trump’s top issue, and one he’s taken 19 different stances on (as well as another five stances on visas for high-skilled workers and three stances on immigrants brought here as children by their parents as children.) Broadly, the GOP nominee supports building a physical wall on the nation’s southern border, forcing Mexico to pay for it, and deporting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. It’s still unclear if he’d let any return or create a pathway to citizenship for them. How he would carry out deportations is also unclear.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Election Day

Clinton: Clinton’s position on immigration could not be more different than Trump’s. Pushed to the left in the primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton has said she will continue President Barack Obama’s executive orders to protect some undocumented workers from deportation and expand them to include people “with a history of service” or who are victims of “extreme labor violations.” Clinton also supports immigration reform that provides citizenship and allow undocumented immigrants to receive Obamacare.

National Security

Trump: Trump emphasizes rebuilding the military and government agencies that he argues have been gutted by other politicians. He advocates against international partnerships, and towards isolationism. He’s said he's open to nuclear retaliation, and won’t rule out boots on the ground in handling conflict. He argues that unpredictability is his top advantage on the national stage.

Clinton: Clinton is often seen as a national security hawk by her critics on the left — ongoing criticism for her support of the Iraq War more than a decade ago is used as proof that she is likely to back militaristic interventions. But as Trump has evolved from an isolationist to a neoconservative over the course of this campaign, Clinton’s support of “aggressive” air campaigns in troubled regions appear more moderate. One thing that is still controversial and a place where she and Trump differ is her support for the nuclear deal with Iran, an agreement that independent voters are skeptical.

Domestic Terrorism

Trump: Trump has said he wants to ban Muslims from entering the country and later in the campaign said such a ban would instead apply to anyone seeking entry to the U.S. from countries with a history of terrorism, though who those countries are and what the exceptions to the rule would be are both unclear. Trump argues that prohibiting people from entering the country is crucial to stopping attacks.

He’s also vowed to up surveillance, endorsed racial profiling and promised to be tougher — advocating war crimes, water boarding, and treating suspected terrorists as enemy combatants.

Clinton: Clinton has called for “tough vetting” of refugees and people entering the country, but she does support accepting Syrian refugees into the country. For domestic terrorism she has called for an “intelligence surge” and the interception of terrorist activity online. She’s also called for the close partnership of police and Muslim Americans.


Trump: Trump says his economic plan can be summed up by three words: “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

He says reforming the tax code, renegotiating trade deals, and cutting back drastically on regulations will create at least 25 million jobs of that in the country, particularly in manufacturing. He advocates boosting coal production, by gutting environmental protection regulations.

Trump says under his policies the nation will reach at least 3.5 percent growth each year, a rate of growth the nation hasn’t seen in 16 years. In later debates, he argued he could reach 5, 6, maybe 7 percent growth, something experts say is extremely unlikely.

Clinton: Clinton’s plan for the economy can be found in the 18 associated plans on her website, ranging from Wall Street reform to housing to climate change. But central to her approach, like Trump, is to create jobs in infrastructure and manufacturing. But that’s where their similarities end. Clinton moved closer to many of Sen. Sanders’ progressive proposals, including expanding Social Security and Medicare, debt-free college and reforming Wall Street. To pay for her expensive plans Clinton would, in part, increase taxes for the wealthy.

Health Care

Trump: Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with giving people the ability to purchase insurance across state lines and providing tax breaks for purchasing insurance. But a new study by the RAND Corporation found that Trump’s plan would increase the number of uninsured from 24.9 million to 44.6 million, largely because Trump would roll back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and replace the federally funded program with block grants.

Clinton: Clinton, whose first attempt at universal health care coverage came when she was First Lady, has admitted that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but she says the answer is not to get rid of it but improve it. She also proposes a “public option,” a government-run insurance option as part of the Affordable Care Act, something President Obama gave up on during the year-long battle to pass the ACA.


Trump: Trump has made criticism of trade deals central to his campaign, enabling him to garner support among non-college educated white men, the largest demographic of people negatively impacted by trade deals. He calls for the renegotiation of NAFTA, which was passed in the 1990s, and the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal currently being considered.

Clinton: Despite calling it the "gold standard," before she announced her candidacy, Clinton came out in opposition of TPP during the primary. But Trump warns that Clinton would go back on a campaign promise and support it if elected, an argument that goes beyond policy and plays into the notion that her positions are politically expedient and that she can’t be trusted.

Crime and Race

Trump: Trump promises to be the "law-and-order" candidate but like most of his platform, he's offered little detail beyond enforcing laws already on the books and supporting police. Stop-and-frisk, which has been found to be unconstitutional, is the first full-fledged policy he's advocated on this front.

Clinton: While Trump sticks to the simplistic message that got him the nomination, Clinton is taking a more nuanced approach. The Democrat supports more police training, specifically when it comes to policing under-served minority communities. She wants implicit-bias training, which helps officers understand inherent bias.