Clinton assails Trump in blistering U.S. presidential debate

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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Sept 27 (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton accused Republican Donald Trump of racism, sexism and tax avoidance on Monday, putting him on the defensive during a 2016 U.S. presidential debate rife with blistering insults and short on policy.

Trump, a real estate tycoon making his first run for public office, said Clinton's long years of service represented "bad experience" with few results and said she lacked the stamina to serve as commander in chief.

Clinton, Trump face off in first presidential debate

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump face off in first presidential debate
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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump face off in first presidential debate
U.S. Secret Service agents walk onto the debate floor before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Workers on the stage prepare for the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A TV cameraman works during a rehearsal for the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York September 25, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
The media center for the first U.S. presidential debate is seen at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Ivanka Trump arrives for the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, waves to an attendee in the audience ahead of the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet Monday night for a presidential debate that will give them their broadest exposure to voters and promises to be a pivotal moment in a long and increasingly close race. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's wife, Melania Trump greets with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence looks on before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves after the first presidential debate against Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (not shown) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican nominee Donald Trump leave the stage after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (R) gestures next to Republican nominee Donald Trump during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Moderator Lester Holt presides over the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Melania Trump (L-R), the wife of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, sits with his daughter Ivanka Trump, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and Pence's wife Karen Pence during Trump's first debate against Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani chat as they take their seats ahead of the start of the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban arrives at the U.S. presidential debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson sits with his wife Miriam as they await the start of the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump Democratic and U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Promoter Don King Don King (C) speaks with Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson prior to the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (C) talks with his daughter Chelsea Clinton prior to the first presidential debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. At right is Marc Mezvinsky, the husband of Chelsea Clinton. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News replaces his jacket after a technician fixed his earpiece before the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump pauses during the first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton discuss a point during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, speaks during the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet Monday night for a presidential debate that will give them their broadest exposure to voters and promises to be a pivotal moment in a long and increasingly close race. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pauses during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump sips water during his first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (2nd from L) chats with members of his family after the conclusion of his first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
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Clinton was under pressure to perform well after a recent bout with pneumonia and a drop in opinion polls, but her long days of preparation appeared to pay off in her highly anticipated first 90-minute showdown with Trump.

Trump, a former reality TV star who eschewed a lot of debate practice, was assertive and focused early on, interrupting Clinton repeatedly. As the night wore on, he became testy and less disciplined in front of the crowd at host Hofstra University and a televised audience that could have reached upwards of a record 100 million people.

A CNN/ORC snap poll said 62 percent of respondents felt Clinton won and 27 percent believed Trump was the winner.

On Tuesday morning, Trump called it "the debate of debates" and promised to be tougher on Clinton at their next meeting on Oct. 9.

"I may hit her harder in certain ways," Trump said in a telephone interview with "Fox & Friends."

He made clear he pulled punches by not bringing up former President Bill Clinton's sexual scandals out of deference to the couple's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who was in the audience.

SEE ALSO: 20 fact checks from the first presidential debate

Trump also said contentious issues involving Clinton's tenure as secretary of state were not addressed on Monday night, including her use of a private computer server for government emails, the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, or the Clinton Foundation charity.

In signs that investors awarded the debate to Clinton, Asian shares recovered after an early bout of nerves while the Mexican peso jumped on Tuesday. Her chances in the Nov. 8 election also improved in online betting markets.

'GREAT DEBATE'

"You feel good tonight?" Clinton asked supporters afterward. "I sure do. We had a great debate."

Trump, 70, declared himself the winner to reporters at the debate site.

The 68-year-old Clinton relentlessly sought to raise questions about her opponent's temperament, business acumen and knowledge.

Trump used much of his time to argue the former first lady and U.S. senator had achieved little in public life and wanted to pursue policies begun by President Barack Obama that have failed to repair a shattered middle class, with jobs lost to outsourcing and overregulation.

People all over the world watching the first presidential debate of 2016

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People all over the world watching the first presidential debate of 2016
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People all over the world watching the first presidential debate of 2016
People, including U.S. Democrats living in Mexico, watch a television broadcast of the first presidential debate between U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in a restaurant in Mexico City, Mexico September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
People watch the U.S. presidential debate in a restaurant in the Queens borough of New York City, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
People watch a direct broadcast of the first U.S. presidential debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a cafe in Beijing, China, September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
A U.S. Democrat living in Mexico watches a television broadcast of the first presidential debate between U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, in Mexico City, Mexico September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
A customer and waitress can be seen in a cafe in Sydney, Australia, September 27, 2016 as Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are displayed on a screen during the first presidential debate. REUTERS/David Gray
Images of U.S. democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during their first presidential debate are shown on television screens at a store in San Diego, California, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
An employee of a foreign exchange trading company looks at a monitor displaying first U.S. presidential debate between U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, as others showing the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the U.S. dollar in Tokyo, Japan, September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Clinton supporters watch the first US presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, at a debate watch party at The Abbey bar and restaurant in West Hollywood, California, September 26, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton watch the first presidential debates during a Debate Watch Party at Jake's Sports & Spirits in Denver, Colorado on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Students watch the first Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during a viewing event at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Students watch the first Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during a viewing event at Hofstra University's in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump recite the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the start of the first presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, while gathering at the Colorado Republican Party's Adams County Victory Office in Thornton, Colorado, on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Members and supporters of the LGBT community watch the first presidential debate during a debate watch party in Chicago, Illinois on September 26, 2016. / AFP / derek henkle (Photo credit should read DEREK HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 26: Rebecca Beach reacts to comments from Donald Trump during a watch party for the presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the South Carolina Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters September 26, 2016 in Columbia, South Carolina. It was the first debate between the two party nominees. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Clinton supporters watch the first US presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, at a debate watch party at The Abbey bar and restaurant in West Hollywood, California, September 26, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican student watches on his smartphone the first US presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on a street in downtown Guadalajara, Mexico on September 26, 2016. / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Patrons fill the Capitol Lounge two blocks from the U.S. Captiol to watch the first presidential debate between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton September 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. The historic one-and-a-half hour debate was broadcast on CNN. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Potential voters watch the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump at a bar on September 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 90-minute televised debate comes six weeks before the general election. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)
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Trump suggested her disavowal of a trade deal with Asian countries was insincere. Her handling of a nuclear deal with Iran and Islamic State militancy were disasters, he argued.

In one of their more heated exchanges, Clinton accused Trump of promulgating a "racist lie" by suggesting Obama, the first African-American president, was not born in the United States.

The president, who was born in Hawaii, released a long-form birth certificate in 2011 to put the issue to rest. Only this month did Trump say publicly that he believed Obama was U.S.-born.

"He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it. But he persisted. He persisted year after year," Clinton said.

SEE ALSO: Mark Cuban admits he lied about front row debate seat to rile Donald Trump

Trump repeated his false accusation that Clinton's failed 2008 presidential campaign against Obama started the so-called "birther" issue.

"Nobody was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it ... I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate and I think I did a good job," Trump said.

'TRYING TO HIDE'

Trying to get under Trump's skin, Clinton suggested her opponent was refusing to release his tax returns to avoid showing Americans he paid next to nothing in federal taxes or that he is not as wealthy as he says he is.

"It must be something really important, even terrible, that he's trying to hide," she said.

Trump fought back, saying that as a businessman, paying low taxes was important.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump thinks his sniffing was due to a 'defective mic'

"That makes me smart," Trump said.

"I have a tremendous income," he said, adding that it was about time that someone running the country knew something about money. He said he would release his tax documents after a government audit.

Trump sniffed loudly at times - a campaign aide said the candidate did not have a cold.

'HANGING AROUND' BEAUTY CONTESTS

Clinton, the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party, seemed to pique Trump when she brought up how Trump has insulted women.

"He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them and he called this one 'Miss Piggy' and then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping,'" she said.

During the debate, Trump darkly hinted at wanting to say something but stopped short. Afterwards, he told reporters he had held back from raising Bill Clinton's sex scandals.

"I was going to say something extremely tough to Hillary and her family and I said I can't do it. I just can't do it. It's inappropriate. It's not nice," he said.

There was much speculation about how much debate moderator Lester Holt would intervene to correct facts. The NBC News anchorman largely left the candidates to fight it out, interjecting a few times to set the record straight.

SEE ALSO: Police escort Jill Stein away from the presidential debate site

Trump repeated his campaign assertion that he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, despite having voiced support for it in a 2002 interview. "The record shows otherwise," Holt challenged him. "The record does not show that," Trump shot back.

At other times, the candidates corrected each other.

Toward the end, Trump said Clinton did not have the endurance to be president but avoided mentioning her recent bout with pneumonia.

"She doesn't have the look, she doesn't have the stamina," he said.

Clinton retorted: "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."

Clinton called Trump's tax policies "Trumped-up trickle-down" economics, and Trump accused Clinton of being "all talk, no action."

"I have a feeling I'm going to be blamed for everything," Clinton said during one tough exchange.

"Why not?" retorted Trump.

The Mexican peso, dubbed the "Trump thermometer" because of its sensitivity to the U.S. presidential campaign, rose 1.6 percent. Trump has pledged to build a wall at the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration.

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