Hempstead : Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battled it out in front of millions of undecided American voters over racism, terror and temperament in their first presidential debate with the media declaring the Democratic nominee as the winner of the fiery contest.
The 90-minute clash, watched by an expected television audience of up to 100 million, saw the 68-year-old former secretary of state and the 70-year-old Republican nominee, who have attacked each other for months in separate campaigns, taking the stage together here for the first time to woo a substantial chunk of voters who remain undecided ahead of the November 8 polls.
The CNN/ORC poll declared Clinton as the clear winner in the first of a series of three debates, with a massive 62 per cent of voters giving an edge to the Democrat over the reality TV star, who was deemed winner by only 27 per cent. The two candidates indulged in a series of combative, acrimonious exchanges as the battle turned personal, with the controversial real estate mogul questioning the “stamina” of the former secretary of state after her recent bout of pneumonia. Clinton was seen smiling through the insults and landed jabs of her own to put Trump on the defensive over his temperament, refusal to release his taxes and his past comments on race and women in the debate that set netizens talking about the showdown in huge numbers.
Trump said he will release his tax returns if Clinton releases her 33,000 emails deleted by her from the period when she was secretary of state in the first term of the Obama Administration. “As soon as she releases them, I will release,” he said when he was being grilled for not releasing his tax returns.
The two leaders clashed as they came face-to-face for the first of the three high-stake presidential debates at Hofstra University in Hempstead, about an hour’s drive from New York City and projected themselves as best-prepared to lead the nation just six weeks before the election.
Clinton accused Trump of being “anti-women” and challenged his allegations that she lacked the stamina to be the commander-in-chief as the real estate mogul said “she does not have the stamina”. “She doesn’t have the look. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina,” Trump said in response to a question during the first presidential debate.
Clinton hit back, saying: “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents… or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”
She said the “racist lie” perpetuated by her rival about Barack Obama of not being a natural-born citizen “bothered and annoyed” the US President, whom she called a man of “great dignity”. She slammed Trump’s long record of engaging in “racist behaviour” and said “the birther lie was a very hurtful one”.
* I think Donald just criticised me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing: Clinton
* I think my strongest asset by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament: Trump
* Hillary has experience, but it’s bad experience. This country can’t afford to have another four years of that kind of experience: Trump.
* Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. There is something he’s hiding. Who does he owe money to: Clinton
* A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes: Clinton