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Clinton seeks to keep Trump on defensive after debate

RALEIGH, N.C.--Republican Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday he would hit rival Hillary Clinton harder in the next U.S. presidential debate while the Democratic nominee sought to keep him on the defensive with accusations that he is a sexist, raci...

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Patrons at McGregor's Bar and Grill watch the first televised debate between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in San Diego, California, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker

RALEIGH, N.C.-Republican Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday he would hit rival Hillary Clinton harder in the next U.S. presidential debate while the Democratic nominee sought to keep him on the defensive with accusations that he is a sexist, racist and tax dodger.

As had been expected, Monday night's first face-off between Clinton, who has decades of experience in public life, and Trump, famous as a television personality but running for office for the first time, attracted a huge audience. Some 80.9 million Americans watched the debate on television, setting a new viewership record for such events, CNN said.

Clinton tried to keep up momentum from a forceful performance, saying on Tuesday, Sept. 27, that the New York real estate mogul "was making charges and claims that were demonstrably untrue, offering opinions that I think a lot of people would find offensive and off-putting."

Trump praised himself for not attacking Clinton during the debate about the marital infidelity of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, but said that he may take up the attack line going forward. There are two more debates scheduled, on Oct. 9 in St. Louis and Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

"I may hit her harder in certain ways. I really eased up because I didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings," Trump said in an interview on the Fox News program "Fox & Friends."

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He added that when Clinton criticized him for his treatment of women, he held back, saying, "I was going to hit her with her husband's women. And I decided I shouldn't do it because her daughter was in the room."

Clinton brushed off Trump's vow, saying, "He can run his campaign however he chooses."

Trump himself was still married to his first wife, Ivana Trump, when he had a high-profile affair with Marla Maples, who became his second wife. He eventually divorced Maples and married his third and current wife, Melania Trump.

'Gaming the system'

Clinton, a former U.S. senator and secretary of state, stepped up her criticism of Trump for refusing to release his tax returns, as presidential candidates have done for decades, and for saying during the debate that not paying federal income tax "makes me smart."

"He actually bragged about gaming the system to get out of paying his fair share of taxes. In fact, I think there's a strong probability he hasn't paid federal taxes a lot of years," she said at a campaign rally in Raleigh, N.C., a pivotal state in the election.

"He probably hasn't paid a penny to support our troops or our vets or our schools or our healthcare system."

In the interview with Fox News, Trump sought to deflect criticism of his debate performance, saying the debate moderator, Lester Holt of NBC News, asked him "very unfair questions" and that he was given a "very bad" microphone.

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"I don't want to believe in conspiracy theories, of course, but it was much lower than hers and it was crackling," Trump said of the microphone.

Clinton, speaking to reporters on her campaign plane, said, "Anyone who complains about the microphone is not having a good night."

Beauty queen

Clinton excoriated Trump during the debate for having called women "pigs, slobs and dogs," but Trump leveled new and highly personal criticism on Tuesday toward Venezuelan-born beauty queen Alicia Machado, who won the 1996 Miss Universe title and is now a U.S. citizen.

"She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight," said Trump, the former owner of the Miss Universe pageants. "And it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that-her attitude-and we had a real problem with her."

Clinton, the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party, seemed to pique Trump when she brought up during the debate how Trump has insulted women, mentioning Machado by name. Clinton said Trump called her "Miss Piggy" and also "Miss Housekeeping" because she was a Latina.

The Clinton campaign held a call with reporters making Machado available for questions and released a video in which Machado offered her account of Trump's behavior toward her.

'Dark terms'

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Clinton highlighted what she described as Trump's downbeat message.

"He talks down America every chance he gets. He calls us names. He calls us a Third World country. He talks in such dire and dark terms. That's not who America is," Clinton said.

A CNN/ORC snap poll said 62 percent of respondents felt Clinton won and 27 percent believed Trump was the winner in the debate, hosted by Hofstra University.

In signs that investors awarded the debate to Clinton, U.S. stocks and the Mexican peso jumped on Tuesday. The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index gained about 0.63 percent, and the peso, recently dubbed the "Trump thermometer" by traders due to its sensitivity to the Republican's showing in opinion polls, surged 2 percent against the dollar, its biggest one-day gain in seven months.

Clinton's chances in the election also improved in online betting markets.

Trump complained that issues from Clinton's 2009-2013 tenure as secretary of state were not addressed on Monday night, including topics he has assailed her on such as her use of a private computer server for government emails, a deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, and the Clinton Foundation charity.

Trump, 70, used much of his time to argue that Clinton had achieved little in public life and wanted to pursue policies begun by President Barack Obama that he said have failed to repair a shattered middle class, with jobs lost to outsourcing and excessive government regulation.

In one of their more heated exchanges, Clinton, 68, accused Trump of promulgating a "racist lie" by questioning the citizenship of Obama, the first black U.S. president, saying he was not born in the United States.

Obama, who was born in Hawaii, released a long-form birth certificate in 2011 to put the issue to rest. It was not until this month that Trump said publicly he believed Obama was U.S.-born.

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