Democrat Hillary Clinton accused Republican Donald Trump of racism, sexism and tax avoidance on Monday, putting him on the defensive during a debate that a snap poll said boosted her White House chances.
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 was under pressure to perform well after a 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 standoff with Trump.
Trump, a former reality TV star who eschewed a lot of debate practice, was strong early on but appeared to become repetitive and more undisciplined as the night wore on in front of 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.
In signs that investors awarded the debate to Clinton also, Asian shares recovered from an early bout of nerves while the Mexican peso surged on Tuesday.
Her chances in the Nov 8 election improved also on online betting markets.
“You feel good tonight?” Clinton asked supporters after the event. “I sure do. We had a great debate.”
Trump, 70, declared himself the winner to reporters at the debate site, then opted against a visit to a local debate watch party that his staff had left open as a possibility.
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, US senator and secretary of state had achieved little in public life and wants to pursue policies begun by President Barack Obama that have failed to repair a shattered middle class, with jobs lost to outsourcing and over-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.
In one of their more heated exchanges, Clinton accused Trump of promulgating a “racist lie” by suggesting Obama, the first US African-American president, was not born in the United States.