Jobs, Taxes—And Facts—Come Under Scrutiny In First Presidential Debate

"I know you live in your own reality," Clinton told Trump.

The first scheduled presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took place tonight at Hofstra University, and it seems the only thing the two candidates agreed upon was the time and location.

NBC’s Lester Holt moderated the head-to-head, which saw Clinton and Trump disagreeing on everything from the economy and policing to global warming and the war on terror.

Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton face off during the first presidential debate moderated by NBC's Lester Holt (C) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Paul J. Richards        (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Paul J Ricahrds/AFP/Getty

Fact-checkers worked overtime vetting the candidates’ statements, with a number of Trump’s assertions—that Hillary started the “birther” movement, that he never claimed climate change was a “hoax”—being called out as false.

In fact, Clinton spent much of the time reminding the audience of statements Trump has made, and his decades as a controversial businessman and public personality.

“I know you live in your own reality,” she told Trump, to a roar of applause from the live audience.

Republican nominee Donald Trump (L) and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton take part in  the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Jewel Samada/AFP/Getty

For his part, Trump claimed Clinton flip-flopped from a harsh Obama critic in the 2008 primary to one of his biggest boosters now.

“You treated him with terrible disrespect and I watch the way you talk now about how lovely everything is—it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “When you try to act holier than thou, it really doesn’t work.”

Clinton took aim at Trump’s finances, reminding viewers he had yet to release his tax records, as most presidential candidates do.

HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26:  Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.  The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt.  (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

“Maybe he is not as rich as he says he is,” she pondered. “Maybe he is not as charitable as he claims to be… Maybe he doesn’t want the American people to know that he has paid nothing in federal taxes.”

Trump replied “That makes me smart.”

While Clinton attacked Trump’s record of bankruptcies and “stiffing” contractors, he claimed his economic policy would be “a beautiful thing to watch.”

“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,” he said.

HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26:  Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.  The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty

“Under my plan, I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35% to 15% for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan.”

LGBT rights did not come up in Monday’s debate, though it’s expected they will be an issue during the vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine on October 4 at 9 p.m. at Virginia’s Longwood University.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery