Trump vows to hit Clinton harder in next US presidential debate

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Sept 27 (Reuters) - Republican Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to hit rival Democrat Hillary Clinton harder in the next U.S. presidential debate after she put him on the defensive by accusing him of being racist, sexist and a tax dodger during their first matchup.

Clinton blasted Trump again the day after a forceful performance in the first of three scheduled presidential debates ahead of the Nov. 8 election. The New York real estate mogul, she said, "was making charges and claims that were demonstrably untrue, offering opinions that I think a lot of people would find offensive and off-putting."

Trump, making his first run for public office, praised himself for not attacking Clinton about the marital infidelity of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, during the debate at Hofstra University but said in a Tuesday morning interview with Fox News that he may take up the attack line going forward.

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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
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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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"I may hit her harder in certain ways," Trump said in a telephone interview with "Fox & Friends." Trump added that when Clinton criticized him for his treatment of women, he resisted. "I was going to hit her with her husband's women. And I decided I shouldn't do it because her daughter was in the room."

Clinton brushed off Trump's vow, saying, "He can run his campaign however he chooses."

Trump himself had a high-profile affair with Marla Maples, the woman who would be his second wife while he was still married to his first wife, Ivana Trump. He eventually divorced Maples and married his third and current wife, Melania Trump.

The television audience for debate looks set to approach 80-million viewer record for such events set in 1980, early Nielsen viewership data cited by U.S. media suggested.

Trump sought to deflect criticism of his debate performance, saying the debate moderator, Lester Holt of NBC News, asked him "very unfair questions" and that he was given a "very bad" microphone.

Clinton, speaking to reporters on her campaign plane, said, "Anyone who complains about the microphone is not having a good night."

There are two more debates scheduled, on Oct. 9 in St. Louis and Oct. 19 in Las Vegas.

'DARK TERMS'

Clinton highlighted what she described as Trump's downbeat message.

"He talks down America every chance he gets. He calls us names. He calls us a Third World country. He talks in such dire and dark terms. That's not who America is," Clinton said.

She said that "the real point is about temperament and fitness and qualification to hold the hold the most important, hardest job in the world."

Clinton was under pressure to perform well on Monday night after a recent bout with pneumonia and an erosion in recent weeks in her lead over Trump in opinion polls. One line of attack was Trump's past remarks about women, a message designed to resonate with women who are still undecided about their vote and who could be pivotal in deciding the White House election.

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.

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

Trump complained on Tuesday that issues from Clinton's 2009-2013 tenure as secretary of state were not addressed on Monday night, including topics he has assailed her on such as her use of a private computer server for government emails, a deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, and 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. U.S. equity markets kicked off their session with a modest gain but the advance was restrained by weakness in energy stocks as oil prices fell 2.5 percent. Clinton's chances in the election also improved in online betting markets.

'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 during the debate how Trump has insulted women. She pointed to Alicia Machado, who won the 1996 Miss Universe title, saying Trump had repeatedly insulted her.

"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.

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ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 02: Democratic vice presidential candidate U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (L) greet each other at the start of the vice presidential debate at the Field House of Washington University's Athletic Complex on October 2, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. The highly anticipated showdown between the two vice-presidential candidates will be their only debate before the election. (Photo by Don Emmert-Pool/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND, United States: US Vice-President Dick Cheney points during his face off with Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards at Case Western Reserve University 05 October, 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio. The vice-presidential debate is focusing on foreign and domestic policies. AFP PHOTO/Steve JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEVE JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
YEAR-2008 US Republican presidential candidate John McCain (R) and Democrat Barack Obama leave the table after the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on October 15, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Original Caption) Omaha, Nebraska: Following their vice presidential debate, Senators Lloyd Bentsen (L) of Texas and Dan Quayle (R) of Indiana reach out to shake hands, October 5th.
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 07: Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (R) speaks during the debate with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) at the Town Hall Presidential Debate at Belmont University's Curb Event Center October 7, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. Tonight's debate is the second presidential debate of three, the only one being held in the town hall style with questions coming from audience members. (Photo by Anthony Jacobs/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, United States: Gwen Ifill (C), moderator of the vice-presidential debate, faces US Vice-President Dick Cheney (L) and Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards 05 October, 2004 during the candidates only face-to-face debate in the 2004 White House race at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.The vice-presidential debate is focusing on foreign and domestic policies. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 13: Vice presidential candidate James Stockdale, an independent candidate, speaks during the debate at Georgia Tech 13 October, 1992 in Atlanta, GA. Stockdale debated Vice President Dan Quayle and Senator Al Gore. (Photo credit should read J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Kansas City: Combo of President Reagan and his Democratic opponent, Walter Mondale in their final Presidential debate of the 1984 campaign in Kansas City.
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: Texas Gov. George W. Bush answers a question as Vice President Al Gore looks on during the third and final presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
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Trump, former owner of the Miss Universe pageants, was asked on Tuesday morning about Clinton's comments. He defended his insults of the Venezuelan-born woman who is now a U.S. citizen.

"She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight," Trump said on Tuesday of Machado. "And it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that - her attitude - and we had a real problem with her."

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

Trump, 70, 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 he said have failed to repair a shattered middle class, with jobs lost to outsourcing and excessive government regulation.

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. Trump said Clinton had spent her "entire adult life" fighting the Islamic State, a group that has existed for less than a decade.

In one of their more heated exchanges, Clinton accused Trump of promulgating a "racist lie" by suggesting Obama, the first African-American U.S. 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. It was not until this month that Trump said 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.

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

Clinton suggested her opponent was refusing to release his tax returns to avoid showing Americans "he's paid nothing in federal taxes" or that "not as rich as he says he is."

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

Trump said that as a businessman, paying low taxes was important. "That makes me smart," Trump said.

(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Ginger Gibson, Luciana Lopez, Roberta Rampton, Emily Stephenson, Alana Wise, Doina Chiacu and Dan Burns; Writing by Will Dunham and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry)

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