Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican counterpart Donald Trump sparred over the economy and creating new jobs, in their first face-off in a nationally televised presidential debate ahead of US polls.

 

Trump claimed that the US is being used as a piggy bank to rebuild China.

 

"Our jobs are fleeing the country. They're going to Mexico. They're going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product.

 

"They're devaluing their currency, and there's nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. And we have a winning fight.

 

"Because they're using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing," Trump said.


The real estate tycoon from New York said there is need to stop jobs from being stolen from the US.

 

"We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States and, with it, firing all of their people," he said.

 

"We cannot let it happen. Under my plan, I'll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 per cent to 15 per cent for companies, small and big businesses.

 

"That's going to be a job creator like we haven't seen since Ronald Reagan. It's going to be a beautiful thing to watch," Trump said.

 

Clinton, the first woman to appear on the stage of the presidential debate, disagreed.


"I think that trade is an important issue. Of course, we are 5% of the world's population; we have to trade with the other 95%. And we need to have smart, fair trade deals," she said.


"We also, though, need to have a tax system that rewards work and not just financial transactions. And the kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again.


"In fact, it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top per cent of the people in this country than we've ever had.


"I call it trumped-up trickle-down, because that's exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy," she said. 

 

In the course of the debate an angry Trump slammed Clinton for putting her plans to fight ISIS on her website -- and thereby tipping off America's enemy.


To this Clinton responded: "Well, at least I have a plan to fight ISIS,", referring to his previous statements that he has a "secret" plan to destroy the terrorist group.

 

As the debate turned to racial issues and crime, Clinton said that it was important for police to work together with local communities to restore trust.

 

Trump accused Clinton of refusing to say the phrase "law and order" and bemoaned the state of inner cities. He said that African-Americans and Hispanics were "living in hell."

 

"You walk down the street, you get shot," Trump said.

 

Clinton then chided Trump for painting "such a dire picture" of black communities.

 

Meanwhile, Clinton alleged that Trump has benefited from the economic recession.

 

"We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.

 

"In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis," she said.

 

As the two candidate sparred over economy and jobs, they accused each other over facts.

 

Clinton was the first to raise the issue and directed the millions of viewers to her websites for checking the facts.


"We have taken the home page of my website, HillaryClinton.com, and we've turned it into a fact-checker. So if you want to see in real-time what the facts are, please go and take a look," she said.


Trump interrupted, "And take a look at mine, also, and you'll see."


"What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have made all the gains in the economy.

 

"And I think it's time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country," she said.

 

A heated exchange took place when moderator Lester Holt questioned Trump on what exactly he meant when he said Clinton lacked the "presidential look." "She doesn't have the look, she doesn't have stamina," Trump said.

 

Clinton then rather fiercely hit back: "As soon as [Trump] travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina," which drew a rare round of applause from the audience.

 

Hillary continued, "He tried to switch from 'looks' to 'stamina,' but this is a man who has called women 'pigs, slobs and dogs,'" Clinton said. "Someone who has said that pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, someone who has said women don't deserve equal pay as long as they do as good a job as men."

 

The debate attracted worldwide interest with over 100 million television audience tuned in to watch the extraordinary drama of the 2016 US presidential campaign.