Hempstead (US): Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump today battled out in front of tens of millions of American voters over jobs, taxes and terror in their fiery first presidential debate ahead of US polls as the nominees aggressively tried to discredit each other.
The 90-minute clash witnessed the 68-year-old former secretary of state and the 70-year-old reality TV star, who have attacked the other for months in separate campaigns, taking the stage together here for the first time and indulge in a series of combative, acrimonious exchanges.
The battle turned personal, with the controversial real estate mogul being questioning the “stamina” of the former secretary of state after her recent bout of pneumonia while the latter was seen smiling through the insults and landed jabs of her own to put Trump on the defensive.
Trump said he will release his tax returns if Clinton releases her 33,000 emails deleted by her from the period when she was the secretary of state in the first term of the Obama Administration.
“As soon as she releases them, I will release,” Trump said when he was being grilled for not releasing his tax returns.
The two leaders clashed over race, taxes and security 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.
Clinton accused Trump of being “anti-women” and challenged his allegations that she lacked the stamina to be the commander-in-chief.
“She (Clinton) doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina. 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 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”.
Meanwhile, Trump – who is running for the top post for the first time – said Clinton has “got experience”, but it is “bad experience”.
He claimed that the US is being used as a “piggy bank” to rebuild China and many other countries are doing the same thing as he underlined the need to stop jobs from being “stolen” from the US.
However, the non-politician interrupted Clinton several times and appeared agitated as Clinton appeared calm and composed.