Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debated face-to-face for the first time since earning their presidential nomination on Monday night as the two tackled issues on jobs and the economy, racial division, cybersecurity and more or less each other.
NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt moderated the debate at Hofstra University in New York, where he asked questions in regard to America’s direction, achieving prosperity and securing the United States.
Heading into the debate, Trump was trailing behind Clinton by a mere 2.3 percent, according to the average compiled by RealClearPolitics. The debate also forced Trump to move into defense as the two battle for their position in the Oval Office.
Here's a breakdown of the main topics discussed during the first presidential debate:
On jobs and the economy
Opening on the topic of achieving prosperity for the nation, the main focus was on jobs and income inequality.
Clinton began the debate, saying that America needs an economy that works for everyone.
“Investments in you, in your future,” were key components to her argument.
Trump countered with a narrower focus on the job market, “Our jobs are fleeing the country, going to Mexico and China.”
Trump said nobody in America's government is "fighting the countries that are taking the jobs."
“We must stop our companies from leaving,” he said.
Trump went on to describe his economic plan, saying that he would reduce taxes from “35 percent to 15 percent” for large and small businesses.
Clinton disagreed with that plan, however, saying a new term coined “Trumped upped, trickled down,” economics, with the basis being the tax cuts starting for the elite and slowly making their way down to the middle and lower class.
A main focus of Clinton's debate surrounded the fact that under her tax plan, nearly 10 million more jobs will be created, compared to Trump's tax plan, which she will result in 3 1/2 million lost jobs.
“I know how to really work to get new jobs and to get exports to create new jobs,” Clinton said.
Tax returns and emails
Hot-button issues specifically targeting the candidates were also brought into the debate, including Trump's tax returns and refusal to release them until his internal audit is returned.
“I will release my tax returns when she releases her emails,” Trump said, a hit at Clinton’s infamous 2015 email scandal.
Clinton countered, however, saying that there was no excuse for Trump to not release his tax returns. She asked, “Why won’t he release his tax returns?”
On racial division
Clinton proposed that everyone should be respected by the law and that everyone should respect the law. However, she said, that is not the case in today's America.
Clinton also said she would heal the racial divide by calling for criminal justice reform and bringing communities together.
To do this, she offered two things: restoring trust and tackling gun violence.
Trump argued by saying that Clinton swerved around two words, which he later used to dominate his argument. Trump said America needs law and order as a way to heal the racial divide.
"We have a situation where we have in our inner cities, African-Americans and Hispanics [who] are living in hell," Trump said.
"You walk down the street, you get shot."
On racial profiling
The debate also moved into the controversy surrounding stop-and-frisk, a program ruled unconstitutional in New York City that Trump believes is a solution to violence, citing that murder by gun violence has gone down in New York since being implemented.
Clinton, however, disagreed, saying that stop-and-frisk was ineffective and instead she believes in community policing.
"[We] have to address systematic racism," Clinton said.
The debate surrounding healing a divided America largely is in part because of the violence and protests that have followed the shootings and killings of African-American men in the United States over the past years and more recently past few months, particularly in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On the Birther Movement
Also on the debate agenda was the argument surrounding President Barack Obama's birth place and citizenship, known as the Birther Movement, in which Trump has been a part of for the past five years up until this past week.
Trump said "nobody was caring much about it [where Obama was born]" and that he was the one who got Obama to produce his birth certificate.
And when questioned on it, Trump attempted to swerve the topic by pressing on defeating ISIS and the good relationships he feels he has developed within the African-American community.
Clinton was not having it, however.
"Just listen to what you heard, and clearly as Donald just admitted, he tried to put the racist birther lie to bed, but it can’t be dismissed that easily," Clinton said.
Cyber warfare, home-grown terrorism and national security
The two candidates also were asked questions regarding national security particularly on cyberattacks, how to prevent home-grown terrorist attacks by U.S. citizens and national security.
Clinton said cyber warfare will be one of the biggest challenges facing the next president, with the most recent and troubling of these concerns being Russia. Clinton said she was shocked when Trump invited Vladimir Putin to "hack into our security," referencing earlier this summer in light of Clinton's emails controversy.
"We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare, but we will protect the citizens of our country," Clinton said.
Trump, thwarting the question, asked the viewers to "look at the mess we're in," arguing that under Obama, "we've lost control of things we used to have control over ... get tough on cyber and cyber warfare."
Throughout the debate, Trump and Clinton attempted several personal attacks to their opponent, with Trump often interrupting Clinton, saying, "you're wrong," and Clinton smiling widely when Trump said something she didn't quite agree with.
On issues such as terrorism and security, the two focused more on each other than policy, as well, with Clinton saying Trump supports the invitation of Iraq, and Trump countering that she is wrong.
We’ve got to do everything we can to vacuum up intelligence, need to work more closely with our allies, we’re working with NATO to turn our attention to terrorism, Clinton said, adding that Trump has consistently insulted muslims abroad and muslims at home.
On their opponent
Holt also asked the candidates questions specifically targeted toward them, such as "Why is your judgement better than your opponent's?" and "Are you willing to accept the outcome of this election?"
Trump referred back to his usual rhetoric, saying Clinton "doesn't have the stamina" to be president.
"I said she didn't have the stamina ... I don't believe Hillary has the stamina," Trump said, adding later that Clinton has experience, but it's bad experience."
Clinton countered, saying Trump can "talk to her about stamina" once he travels to 112 countries where he makes negational deals, discusses peace fires and spends hours testifying in front of a congressional committee.
However, the two were able to agree on at least on issue throughout the night, saying they both would support the outcome of the election.
"I hope the people out there understand this election is up to you," Clinton said. "I sure hope you will get out and vote."
Trump added, "I want to make America great again, [but] we are a nation that is seriously troubled ...
I don’t think Hillary can do it. [But] if she wins, I will absolutely support her."
The next presidential debate will take place Oct. 9 in a town meeting format in which half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants and the other half will be posed by the moderator. The debate will take place at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.