Among the many things that stood out in Monday night’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the extent to which Trump congratulated himself, repeatedly and lavishly, for things that reveal much about his character (“Candidates battle over taxes, race and trade,” Sept. 27).

He congratulated himself for avoiding his fair share of taxes (no doubt expecting the rest of us to happily pick up the slack, since we’re not “smart” like he is). He congratulated himself for getting President Obama to “produce” his birth certificate in 2011 (but kept flogging the issue for five more years). He ended the debate by congratulating himself for restraining himself even though he really, really wanted to say something really, really nasty about Clinton and her family. Such unbelievable restraint, considering her campaign actually had the gall — the audacity! — to air ads critical of him.

What do we have to look forward to if he becomes president? Weekly speeches in which he congratulates himself for refraining from, say, criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s appearance or launching a nuclear missile at whichever random prime minister, emperor or emir failed to sufficiently flatter him? Lord help us all.

Anne Hamre, Roseville

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No, Mr. Trump, paying no federal income taxes does not make you “smart.” It makes you selfish, greedy, unpatriotic, sleazy, immoral, disgusting, freeloading, ridiculous, hypocritical, appalling, contemptible and, for someone with political ambitions, shortsighted and, yes, stupid. Another one I’ll give you is “gutsy.” It certainly takes guts for you to stand on the debate stage with Hillary Clinton and pretend that you are anything close to qualified to be president.

Elisa Cross, Woodbury

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If America were a true democracy, the debates would have four participants. Instead, with the two participants at hand, this is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy.

Richard Tietz, Golden Valley

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Like millions of Americans, I watched the presidential debate Monday night in concerned bemusement as Donald Trump sneered, rambled, interrupted, denied and blatantly lied for 90 minutes. It was a generally appalling performance made worse for Trump by the assured, respectful, informed and passionate appeals of Hillary Clinton.

On Tuesday, Trump blamed his poor performance in part on his microphone. His chief complaint is likely that his microphone was functioning too well and the American people heard exactly what he’s all about.

Peter Rebuffoni, Minneapolis

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If we can learn one important thing from Monday night’s debate, Donald Trump cannot be quieted by mild moderator requests. He is so bent on his idea that if he says things often enough, many people will believe they are true. Unfortunately, that is too often true. What is needed at the next debates are switches controlled by the moderator so that when a person doesn’t yield when politely asked, his or her mike is shut off. Once or twice might be enough to convince the bully to shut up.

Darrell Egertson, Bloomington

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Last night’s debate brought out Trump’s propensity for lying. He tells the same old lies over and over and over again. Trump has run out of material and is now simply boring.

David Conadi-Joness, Shoreview

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Watched the debate. Completely missed all the questions about Benghazi, the e-mail server and all the deleted e-mails that were destroyed after they were ordered to be turned over to Congress. Thought this was supposed to a debate about security.

Jeff Carlson, St. Louis Park

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Really. Can anyone watching the debate not see how completely unfit Trump is for the presidency? Really?

Pamela J. Snopl, Minneapolis

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Donald Trump said it again at the debate: the idea of “supply-side economics” that given a tax break, a business owner will hire more employees. While this is a great sound bite, it doesn’t pass the “smell test,” unless you are looking for rotten fish.

My father and I ran a small business for nearly 50 years. We had one employee, my father, in 1965 when he started the business. We peaked at 35 employees in 2004 and had 10 employees when I sold the business in 2013. We had 35 employees in 2004 because we needed 35 employees to meet our customers’ demands. If you had given me $100,000 back then, say, through a tax break, it would have been a bad business decision to add an employee. My 35 employees were meeting my customers’ needs. Adding an employee without more customer demand would only have increased my expenses and actually lowered my profits.

For a smart business owner, the size of a company is determined by customer demand, not by the amount of money in his pocket. Customers are job creators, because they increase the need for employees. Business owners are not job creators without customers’ increased demand. The best way to increase customer demand is to have tax breaks for middle- and lower-class wage earners. They are more likely to spend all of those tax breaks on food and consumer products. This increased demand will result in increased hiring to meet that new demand.

Jeffrey Benny, St. Louis Park

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I’m a lifelong Republican who’s said that I’d never vote for Hillary. Even have a picture of my wife and I with George and Barbara Bush on the wall. After that debate, I’m with Hillary all the way.

Leonard Freeman, Long Lake

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The time for bloviating buffoonery has long past. Serious problems require serious solutions from astute people. Now run along, take your seat at the children’s table, and let the grown folks talk.

Keith Davis, Minneapolis


Whether ‘The King’ won or lost, I’ll never forget that smile

As a young teenage golfer in Pittsburgh in 1962, my hero was Arnold Palmer. He was a dashing figure on TV, charismatic, and he took all kinds of risks on a golf course and was from Latrobe, not far from Pittsburgh. Any impressionable teen who loved golf could relate to Arnie — and did I forget to say, he could really play golf!

Imagine how excited I was when my uncle gave me a ticket for the final round of the U.S. Open at the Oakmont Country Club, where I would have a chance to be part of “Arnie’s Army” and walk the course with my hero. Jack Nicklaus defeated Palmer in a playoff that year, and I was devastated. But a small event on the course flashed clearly in my mind when I heard the news of Palmer’s death on Sunday (“Golf’s king quickly won over fans and the business world,” Sept. 26).

I had managed to push my way to the front of the crowd along the rope line when Palmer was making his way down the fairway. I yelled at the top of my voice, “Arnie, I am part of your Army!” He briefly looked directly at me and smiled that incredible Palmer smile, and it no longer mattered whether he won or lost. My next round of golf will be dedicated to my hero, and I plan to smile a lot.

James V. Gambone, Orono