6 key moments from the first Clinton-Trump US presidential debate

The Democratic and Republican presidential nominees skewer each other at Hofstra University in the first of three presidential debates, with heated moments raising questions about 'temperament.'
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump conceded that rival Democrat Hillary Clinton had experience but said it was 'bad experience.'
Insults were traded and issues debated in a heated manner as Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mr Donald Trump met in their first presidential debate on Tuesday morning (Sept 27, Singapore time).
Insults were traded and issues debated in a heated manner as Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mr Donald Trump met in their first presidential debate on Tuesday morning (Sept 27, Singapore time). PHOTO: AFP

Insults were traded, accusations flung and issues debated in a heated manner as Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mr Donald Trump met in their first presidential debate on Tuesday morning (Sept 27, Singapore time).

And Mrs Clinton, the Democratic candidate, appeared to emerge as the early victor as Asian shares recovered and the Mexican peso surged in the aftermath of the high-stakes clash.

We take a look at the key moments during the debate.

1. Trump's accusations on trade deals

Sparks flew just minutes into the debate as Mr Trump went on the offensive by criticising Mrs Clinton's support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta)  and, more recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) brokered by current US President Barack Obama.

Mr Trump called Nafta, signed by Mrs Clinton's husband Bill during his term as US president, the "worst trade deal signed anywhere", to which Mrs Clinton had a ready response: "Donald, I know you live in your own reality."

He also seized on Mrs Clinton's support for the TPP during her stint as secretary of state.

2. Tax returns for deleted e-mails

Things got even more interesting as Mr Trump came up with an ultimatum for his rival: Release all her 33,000 deleted e-mail messages and he would make public his tax returns.

"I will release my tax returns against my lawyers' wishes when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release," Mr Trump said.

Mrs Clinton's riposte was that Mr Trump might be reluctant to disclose his tax returns as they may reveal that he is not as rich or charitable as he claims he is, although she did admit she had made a mistake when she used a private e-mail server.

3. Jibe about preparation

Perhaps the best verbal smackdown of the clash came courtesy of Mrs Clinton, who addressed Mr Trump's accusation that she had spent lots of time preparing for their debate with a brilliant reply.

"You criticise me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. Do you know what else I prepared for? I also prepared to be president," she said.

4. Obama's birthplace

An oft-raised topic reared its head again as Mrs Clinton charged that Mr Trump had been pushing a "racist lie" by insinuating previously that President Obama was not born in the US.

She referenced his long record of engaging in racist behaviour by citing lawsuits in the 1970s when Mr Trump was accused of discriminating against black tenants.

Mr Trump, in turn, claimed credit and said he did a "good job' in supporting the "birther theory", even though Mr Obama had already released his Hawaii birth certificate.

5. Temperament (or lack of)

In quite possibly the single most baffling moment of the debate, Mr Trump declared: "I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win."

Mrs Clinton herself appeared to be caught off-guard by her rival's boast and initially replied with a "whoo".

She later took aim at how easy it was to taunt Mr Trump, and cast aspersions over his ability to handle the country's nuclear codes.

6. Who has the presidential look?

In another personal attack on Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump provided a less-than-flattering description: "She doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina."

But he appeared to come off worse after the exchange as Mrs Clinton delivered another gem of a response: "Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities and nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina."