Forty-three days before the election, the highly anticipated matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump finally happened, and it didn't disappoint. Here are all the highlights from the first presidential debate.

The grand finale

The two traded barbs on foreign policy, with Trump hitting Clinton for “creating” ISIS and supporting an Iran deal that he said will lead to the country developing nuclear weapons.

On substance, he said China should solve North Korea and took credit for NATO creating a unit to focus on terrorism. Clinton countered, including by saying Trump’s only plan for defeating ISIS is “secret” and that he doesn’t have one.

The moderator also asked Trump to explain a prior comment that Clinton doesn’t have a presidential “look.” Trump repeated his contention that Clinton “doesn’t have the stamina” to become president. She cited her experience as secretary of State, having traveled to 112 countries and negotiated a peace deal and cease fire. When Trump spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee “he can talk to me about stamina,” she said.

Clinton also took the chance to remind voters of words Trump has used to describe women, specifically as “pigs, dogs and slobs,” that he has said pregnancy is an “inconvenience” and that one of the “worst things” he has said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He “called this woman Miss Piggy, then he called her Miss Housekeeping” because she’s Hispanic, said Clinton.

Trump responded by citing hundreds of millions of dollars in ads Clinton is sponsoring against him that are “not nice,” without disputing the specific charges she leveled against him. He also noted that some of the insults were referring specifically to comedienne Rosanne Barr, who’s been critical of him.

“I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary and her family. And I said ‘I can’t do it.’ ”

— Heidi Przybyla

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Moderator Lester Holt listen during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Moderator Lester Holt listen during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.

Trump skates on Iraq

Trump is given the floor to insist that he supported the Iraq War, something disputed by numerous fact checking groups. He recasts comments he made in an interview with radio host Don Imus prior to the war in which he expressed support for the war (when asked, he said: “I guess so”), insisting he was instead against it. He further builds his case that he was against the war by citing private conversations with Fox News host Sean Hannity, who is a Trump supporter.

— Heidi Przybyla

Pointing fingers on foreign policy

Clinton says Trump has been “very praiseworthy" of Russian President Vladimir Putin and said things that have shocked America's national security rank and file. “That’s why I was so shocked when Donald publicly invited Putin to hack into Americans,” she said.

Trump touts his foreign policy pedigree by citing endorsements from some admirals and the agency that represents border patrol agents. He also questions whether Russia was behind the hacking. “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC,” but it could also be China or somebody who weighs 400 pounds sitting on their bed, he said.

Clinton outlines her ISIS plan, including to prevent online recruiting, supporting airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

Trump said Obama and Clinton created a vacuum in Iraq and Libya. Clinton said Trump supported the invasion of Iraq as he interjected: “wrong, wrong.” Clinton defends the timetable for U.S. withdrawal by noting that former president George W. Bush set the timetable for when to get out of Iraq. The Iraqi government would have had to agree for U.S. troops to remain there, something they did not do, she said.

— Heidi Przybyla

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.


Trump is asked to explain why he kept pressing questions about President Obama’s birth place, even after the president in 2011 produced his birth certificate proving he was born in Hawaii.

Trump made no apologies. He cited the news organization McClatchy, which sent a reporter to Kenya to investigate the issue and claimed credit for getting Obama to release his birth certificate. “I was the one who got him to produce the birth certificate and I think I did a good job,” he said.

The moderator asked Trump what he has to say to African Americans on the issue. “I say nothing,” he said, insisting he’s developed really good relations with the community.

Clinton responded: “Just listen to what you heard.” She said Trump’s campaign was founded “on a racist lie” and cited a 1973 Justice Department lawsuit brought against Trump for housing discrimination. “He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior,” she said.

— Heidi Przybyla

Racial healing

Both candidates are asked how to improve race relations.

Clinton emphasized restoring trust between communities and police, reforming police practices and taking guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. She said the police should be prepared to use force only when necessary.

“Everyone should be respected by the law and everyone should respect the law,” Clinton said. “Right now that’s not the case in a lot of our neighborhoods." She also cited many “good police officers who equally want reform” and said we have to get guns out of the hands of people who “should not have them."

Trump said Clinton won’t use the words “law and order,” which is “what we need in our country.” African Americans and Hispanics “are living in hell” in certain communities, he said. He also reiterated the need to “take the guns away” from “bad people.”

When Clinton said it’s unfortunate that Trump paints such a “dire picture” of these communities, he audibly sighed. Clinton cited statistics that African Americans are more likely to be arrested, charged and put in jail for the same offenses as white Americans. “We cannot just say law and order. We have to come up with a plan,” including ending mandatory minimum sentences and private prisons. She also cited “common sense gun safety provisions” and preventing people on the terror watch list from buying guns.

Trump said he agrees with Clinton that individuals on the terror watch list should be barred from possessing firearms: “I tend to agree with that quite strongly,” he said. He cited her prior use of the words “super predator” in describing African-American youths and said these communities are “very upset” with politicians.

— Heidi Przybyla

Facebook: Top moment in first half is …

That honor belongs to Trump, according to the social media site, which is tracking shares, likes and posts, when he said this:

“She tells you how to fight ISIS on her website. I don't think Gen. Douglas MacArthur would like that too much.”

— Donovan Slack

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.

To pay or not to pay

Clinton turns the attention to Trump’s business record, citing the average Americans and contractors whom he’s “stiffed” over the years and asking why he refused to pay them for their work.

Trump didn’t deny his nonpayment of contractors, saying maybe those contractors didn’t “do a good job.” He said “I take advantage of the laws of the nation” and that his obligation is to take care of himself, his company and his employees. He also cited a Trump hotel he’s opening in Washington, saying it’s ahead of schedule and under budget.

— Heidi Przybyla

What do taxes have to do with emails?

Trump is asked why he isn’t releasing his tax returns to the U.S. public. He cited a mandatory financial statement that he has released and continued to insist he cannot release them because they are under audit. “I’ve been audited for almost 15 years,” he said, turning the conversation to deleted emails by Clinton. He seemed to suggest he’d release them if she releases her prior emails.

“You’re just seen another example of bait and switch here,” said Clinton. “The IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it,” she said. Clinton cited a number of reasons why Trump may not be releasing them: Maybe he’s not as rich or charitable as he says he is. She cited $650 million he owes to Wall Street and foreign banks and that it’s possible he’s paid nothing in federal income tax. “It must be something really important, even terrible he’s trying to hide,” she said. Trump contended that “you don’t learn that much” from tax returns.

When Clinton got her chance to address the email issue, she kept it short: “I made a mistake using a private email,” she said. “I’m not going to make any excuses,” she said.

— Heidi Przybyla

The NAFTA clash

The two traded bards over foreign trade, with Trump slamming Clinton over her husband’s record signing into law the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and her prior support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

She cited her husband’s record in the 1990s of creating new jobs and said she would appoint a special prosecutor on trade deals as Trump continued to blame NAFTA and overregulation of companies for U.S. jobs losses. “NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe signed anywhere,” he said. Over and over he cited “bureaucratic red tape.”

Trump continued to focus on the tax system, saying U.S. companies are not being allowed to bring their money back into the country, or to repatriate them. Clinton countered by saying Trump’s plan would propose a massive increase for rich people like him. “Slashing taxes on the wealthy hasn’t worked and a lot of really smart wealthy people know that,” she said.

First topic: Jobs

Moderator Lester Holt cites income inequality “that remains insignificant," and both candidates are asked how to best create the kind of jobs to ameliorate that inequality.

Clinton says we need to build an economy “for everyone, not just those at the top,” citing her plan to create jobs in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing and clean renewable energy. “We also have to make the economy fairer,” including raising the national minimum wage, instituting corporate profit sharing and paid family leave, affordable college and making sure and “making sure the wealthy pay their fair share.”

Trump spent much of his time diagnosing the problem, saying U.S. jobs are fleeing the country and citing China’s devaluation of its currency. “They are using our country as a piggy bank” to rebuild their country. “We can’t allow it to happen anymore,” he said. On policy, he said he would reduce taxes “tremendously,” which will be a job creator similar to what former President Reagan did. He also called for renegotiating the nation’s trade deals.

Clinton said the kind of plan Trump is proposing is “trickle-down economics all over again.” She said: “I call it trumped-up trickle down.” She also accused him of “rooting for the housing crisis.”

“He really believes that the more you help wealthy people,” the better off everyone will be, she said.

Trump countered by saying the U.S. needs to stop companies from leaving the country.

— Heidi Przybyla