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Presidential candidates debate: round one

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Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump took to their podiums Tuesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, for one of the most anticipated presidential debates in modern American political history with just over 84 million people watching.

In a 96-minute debate, “NBC’s Nighty News” anchor Lester Holt moderated three rounds of questions on jobs, security and race. In their opening statements on jobs, Hillary demanded equal pay for women while Trump defended his trade skills.

“Our jobs are fleeing the country, Mexico and many other countries. Thousands of jobs are leaving. Hillary and I agree on that,” Trump said.

Clinton explained her tax plan, “We need a tax system that rewards work and not financial transactions.”

Trump repeatedly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement that became law in 1994 under Clinton’s husband, Bill, when he was president.

“That was one of the worst trade agreements in history,” Trump said.

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Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s inability to fix the country’s problems over 30 years of public service. The Democrat nominee remained cool, putting her Republican opponent on the defensive much of the debate. When Holt questioned Trump on not releasing his tax returns, the first-time candidate repeated his claim that he could not because he’s under audit.

“I will release my tax returns once my audit is over and against my lawyer’s wishes when she (Clinton) releases the 33,000 emails,” Trump said.

Just days after police killed an African-American man in Charlotte, N.C., and Tulsa, Okla., race promised to be a hot topic. Both candidates were asked what they would do to improve race relations.

“Race remains a significant challenge in our history and determines too much. We have to restore trust between communities and police,” Clinton said.

Trump, on the other hand, repeated that “law and order” is needed. “In Chicago, they have had thousands of shootings; we have to stop the violence in Chicago,” Trump said.

Both candidates agreed that the relationship between police and residents must improve. The candidates also agreed that hacking is an issue, made worse by the unsettling news that emails relating to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) were leaked, possibly by Russia.

“I don’t know who hacked into the DNC, we don’t know who broke in. But what did we learn? Truth is, under (President) Obama, we lost control of the Internet. They are beating us at our own game,” Trump said.

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Clinton warned the country is at great risk of cyber security.

“There are the independent hacking groups that do it mostly for commercial reasons to try to steal information that they can use to make money. But increasingly, we are seeing cyber attacks coming from states, organs of states. The most recent and troubling of these has been Russia,” Clinton said.

 

At the end of the debate, Holt questioned both candidates on whether they would support their counterpart opponent whatever the outcome on Nov. 8th.

“I will support the outcome of this election,” Clinton said.

“I want to make America great again; if she wins I will absolutely support her,” Trump said.

The second of three debates, which will be moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, will take place Sunday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. CST at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.