US infrastructure not overly topical at presidential, VP debates

By |  October 5, 2016
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

A record 84 million viewers tuned in for the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and tens of millions of more viewers watched Tim Kaine and Mike Pence spar in the first and only vice presidential debate eight days later.

The candidates verbally jousted on a number of topics, from the economy, national security and illegal immigration to Clinton’s emails and Trump’s tax returns. The two debates covered a lot of ground, but one area of interest to the aggregate industry that seemingly went untouched in both debates was U.S. infrastructure.

Neither NBC’s Lester Holt, who moderated the first presidential debate, nor CBS’ Elaine Quijano, who moderated the vice presidential debate, pressed the candidates with a prepared question about transportation infrastructure.

U.S. infrastructure did at least come up on a few occasions when candidates wove it in with remarks tied to other debate topics.

But over the course of 180 minutes, no more than one or two total minutes were dedicated to U.S. infrastructure. Of the four candidates, Trump delivered the most in-depth comment about infrastructure.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

“[It] is one thing to have $20 trillion [in national] debt and our roads are good and our bridges are good [and] everything is in great shape,” Trump said. “Our airports are like from a Third World country. You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible – you come in from China – you see these incredible airports and you land … we become a Third World country. So the worst of all things has happened. We owe $20 trillion and we are a mess. We haven’t even started. And we have spent $6 trillion in the Middle East according to a report that I just saw. Whether it is $6 [trillion] or $5 [trillion], but it looks like it is $6 [trillion] – $6 trillion in the Middle East.

We could’ve rebuilt our country twice,” Trump added. “And it’s really a shame. And it’s politicians like Secretary Clinton that have caused this problem. Our country has tremendous problems. We are a debtor nation. We’re a serious debtor nation. And we have a country that needs new roads and tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals, and we don’t have the money because it has been squandered on so many of your ideas.”

Clinton responded to Trump’s remarks.

“And maybe because you have not paid any federal income tax for a lot of years,” she said.

Trump snapped back.

“It would be squandered too, believe me,” he said.

Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine

Earlier in the presidential debate, Clinton discussed infrastructure as a component of economic growth.

“First, we have to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” she said. “That means we need new jobs, good jobs with rising incomes. I want us to invest in you. I want us to invest in your future. That means jobs in infrastructure and advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean renewable energy and small business because most of the new jobs will come from small business.”

Kaine also referenced Clinton’s economic plan in the vice presidential debate.

“Hillary and I have a plan that is on the table that is a ‘you’re hired plan,” he said. “[It’s] five components. [The] first thing we do is we invest in manufacturing, infrastructure and research into clean energy jobs of tomorrow.”

Pence also raised infrastructure, discussing actions he’s taken in Indiana.

Mike Pence

Mike Pence

“I’m very proud of the fact that I come from a state that works,” he said. “The state of Indiana has balanced budgets. We cut taxes. We’ve made record investments in education and in infrastructure.”

Aside from infrastructure, another topic of interest to the aggregate industry that came up in both debates was government regulation. Trump discussed regulation in tandem with his and Clinton’s tax plans, arguing that Clinton’s approach to regulations is disastrous for small businesses.

“You are going to regulate these businesses out of existence,” Trump said, directing his comments to Clinton. “I’ve been all over. The [thing] businesses and people like the most is the fact that I’m cutting regulation. You have regulations on top of regulations and new companies cannot form. And old companies are going out of business, and you want to increase the regulation and make them even worse. I’m going to cut regulations.”

Clinton responded to Trump’s assertion but did not directly address his remarks on her regulatory approach.

Clinton and Trump meet again this Sunday, Oct. 9 for the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. The third and final debate between the two is scheduled for Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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