New York: Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump took to the stage on Monday night to begin their first-ever presidential debate which could prove to be a defining moment in the long race to the White House, media reports said.
Moderator Leslie Holt of NBC News opened the 90-minute debate at Hofstra University, Long Island, New York, with the first topic, “Achieving Prosperity”, CNN reported.
On greeting each other, Clinton asked Trump: “How are you, Donald?” as the crowd cheered.
The first question was about putting money back into Americans’ pockets and creating jobs.
Both candidates gave a wide-ranging answer with their two minutes.
Clinton, the first woman to represent a major US party in the presidential race, mentioned her granddaughter’s birthday, and talked about everything from gender pay gaps, to paid family leave, to presidential temperament.
Trump gave a classic answer about China and Mexico stealing American business and jobs.
He also had his first point of agreement, his unexpected (for the GOP) child leave plan: “I think Hillary and I agree on that, we probably disagree a little bit as it relates to numbers and amounts,” he said.
“We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us, we have to stop companies from leaving the United States,” he added.
Clinton went after Trump for past statements saying he was rooting for the housing market crash, CNN reported.
Trump conceded the point saying “It’s called business”.
She continued that 9 million jobs were lost.
“I’ve tried to be very specific about what we can and should do,” she said, making her case on policy.
Among the audience, the nominees’ families are present including Hillary’s husband and former US President Bill Clinton and Trump’s wife Melania who shook hands while they entered.
The debate is divided into 6 segments with 15 minutes given to each nominee. Two minutes will be allotted to answer a question asked by the moderator, two minutes to reply and the remaining time for the nominees to debate.
The audience have been asked not to cheer, clap or boo.
This is the 20th US presidential debate and is being organised by the Commission on Presidential Debates.