Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump squared off for their first debate at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, on Monday night.

The first issue of discussion was how to achieve prosperity, with the candidates being asked why they are a better choice to create jobs to put money in the pockets of American workers?

Responding first, Clinton said, “I want to invest in you. I want to invest in the future. We also have to make the economy fairer.”

She called for, among other things, paid family leave, earned sick days, affordable child care, and having the wealthy pay their fair share.

“Finally,” continued Clinton, “we are on the same stage tonight, Donald Trump and I. Donald, it’s good to be with you... you have to judge us, who can shoulder the immense, awesome responsibilities of the presidency...”

Trump then responded to the same question and warned, “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.

“So we’re losing our good jobs, so many of them. When you look at what’s happening in Mexico, a friend of mine who builds plants said it’s the eighth wonder of the world. They’re building some of the biggest plants anywhere in the world, some of the most sophisticated, some of the best plants.

“We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States and, with it, firing all of their people. All you have to do is take a look at Carrier air conditioning in Indianapolis. They left — fired 1,400 people. They’re going to Mexico. So many hundreds and hundreds of companies are doing this.”

Clinton replied by saying, “Donald is very fortunate in his life, and that’s all to his benefit... he borrowed $14 million from his father, he really believes the more you help wealthy people, the better off you’ll be.”

She then contrasted her father’s experience dying drapery fabrics, to which Trump retorted that his father gave him “a small amount of money” in the 1970s and he built it into buildings.

Asked by host Lester Holt of NBC News how he would bring back American manufacturing, Trump replied, “Well, the first thing you do is don’t let the jobs leave. The companies are leaving. I could name, I mean, there are thousands of them. They’re leaving, and they’re leaving in bigger numbers than ever.

“And what you do is you say, fine, you want to go to Mexico or some other country, good luck. We wish you a lot of luck. But if you think you’re going to make your air conditioners or your cars or your cookies or whatever you make and bring them into our country without a tax, you’re wrong.

“And once you say you’re going to have to tax them coming in, and our politicians never do this, because they have special interests and the special interests want those companies to leave, because in many cases, they own the companies. So what I’m saying is, we can stop them from leaving. We have to stop them from leaving. And that’s a big, big factor.”

Clinton argued that the recession of eight years ago was due to “tax policies that slashed taxes on Wall Street... in fact Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis.”

Trump repeatedly attacked the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying it was “one of the worst things signed anywhere” and noting that it was Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who signed the agreement.

He continued by saying, “You are going to approve one of the biggest tax cuts in history. You are going to drive businesses out... you are going to regulate these companies out of business...You have regulations on top of regulations... and you want to increase the regulations and make them even worse. I’m going to cut taxes big league, and you’re going to raise taxes.”

Clinton replied by saying, “I kind of assumed that there would be a lot of these charges and claims,” before referring people to her web site to fact-check Trump, to which Trump responded by mocking her and saying, “Just go to her web site to fight ISIS.”

Clinton replied and said, “At least I have a plan to fight ISIS,” and Trump replied, “You’re telling the enemy everything we want to do. No wonder you’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.”

Holt asked Trump about releasing his tax returns, and Trump explained that he is currently under audit.

“It will be released as soon as the audit’s finished... but you will learn more about Donald Trump where I have filed a 100-page…the income is filed at $694 million this past year,” he said.

Holt noted that the IRS says he can still release his returns even under audit, to which Trump replied that he’s always under audit and added, “I will release my tax returns against my lawyer’s wishes when she releases her 33,000 emails that were deleted.”

Clinton fired back, accusing Trump of hiding something by not releasing his returns.

“Why won’t he release his tax returns? Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Maybe he’s not as charitable... third, he owes $600 million to foreign banks... or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching to know he didn’t pay any income taxes.”

Asked by Holt if she wants to reply to Trump’s accusations about her private e-mails, Clinton replied, “I made a mistake using private email. I take responsibility.”

Trump charged, “That was not a mistake. That was done purposefully…As far as my tax returns, you don’t learn that much from tax returns, I can tell you…the other things, I’m extremely under-leveraged.”

The second issue on the agenda was the police shootings of black men with Holt asking the two candidates about healing along lines of race and racism.

“Unfortunately, race often determines too much,” said Clinton, adding, “We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they’re well prepared to use force... everyone should be respected by the law and everyone should respect the law.”

Clinton said her platform would address criminal justice reform. “And we’ve got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. We have to tackle the plague of gun violence.”

Trump responded to the question by saying, “We need law and order in our country. African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street you get shot.”

He mentioned the stop and frisk method while adding that “it worked very well in New York.”

On the question of guns, Clinton said, “We’ve got too many military-style weapons on the streets. In a lot of places, our police are outgunned...we need to keep guns out of the hands of those who’d do harm... There are things we can do and we ought to do it in a bipartisan way.”

Holt asked Trump about what changed his mind about the “birther” saga, which Trump reversed himself on recently after five years in which he argued that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

Trump responded by saying that Clinton aide Sydney Blumenthal started the sage and he ended it, adding he did a “great job and a great service” for the country and the president by demanding that he produce a birth certificate.

Clinton fired back and said, “Just listen to what you heard... he tried to put the whole racist, birther lie, to bed. But it can’t be dismissed that easily. He has started his campaign activity based on this racist lie... because some of his supporters…believed it or wanted to believe it.”

Clinton was about cyber war, blasting Trump for praising Russian president Vladimir Putin and saying, “We need to make it very clear…the United States has much greater capacity, and we are not going to sit idly by to let state actors go after our information.”

“I was so shocked when Donald publicly invited Putin to hack into Americans. That is just unacceptable... Donald is unfit to be commander-in-chief,” she charged.

Trump said that “under president Obama, we’ve lost control of things we should have had control over…we have to get very very tough on cyber and cyber warfare.”

Clinton continued by saying she has a plan to defeat ISIS that involves combatting them online but that air strikes against the group need to continue.

“We’re making progress. We’re hoping that within a year we’ll be able to push ISIS out of Iraq.”

The topic of Iran and the nuclear deal came up in the debate, and Trump said the deal “was one of the first deals ever made by any country in history.”

“I met with Bibi Netanyahu the other day. Believe me, he is not a happy camper,” he added, referring to Israel’s Prime Minister.

He said that Clinton had turned Iran into “a major power” and added, “I think we have to get NATO to go into the Middle East with us, and we have to knock the hell out of ISIS, and we have to do it fast.”

He agreed with Clinton that she has experience but pointed out that “it's bad experience. This country can't afford to have another four years of that kind of experience.”

Trump also explained previous comments that Clinton did not have a "presidential look."

"She doesn't have the look, she doesn't have the stamina... to be president of this country you need tremendous stamina," he said.

Holt asked both candidates if they would accept the will of the people in the election. Clinton replied she will but urged people "to vote like your future depends on it, because I think it does."

Trump reiterated his slogan to "Make America Great Again" but stressed that he would accept the outcome too if Clinton wins the election.

credit: רויטרס
credit: רויטרס