The Democratic nominee and her Republican rival, Donald Trump, took to the stage in New York on Monday night to offer the nation a taste of who they are and what kind of a president each would make.
Several New Yorkers who watched the debate spoke to Anadolu Agency on Tuesday without giving their last names, and most thought Clinton was the one who cut a more presidential figure.
"One did well, the other one did what was expected of him," said Alan, a retiree. "He did not make a good impression for a person who would like to be the President of the United States."
Alan acknowledged he was a Clinton supporter before watching the first round of the traditional presidential face-off.
"I support Mrs. Clinton," he said. "In a way, I understand people’s dislike of her but the competence she shows is exemplary, whereas her opponent is less than qualified.
"As a prospective or emergent politician Mr. Trump has a lot to work on," Alan said.
Davon, a nurse, who declined to declare his political affiliation, said there was more to looking presidential than meets the eye.
"I think Hillary and Trump both portray an aspect of America," Davon, who is black, said. "I think Hillary definitely came off as more presidential, if you want to go by that. But I think Trump also displays an aspect of America that’s angry and disappointed with the way things have gone by. So in that respect, he can be considered presidential and represent his constituents."
Davon thought there was no one that came out triumphant from the debate Monday night, and not even the entire election cycle. "Honestly, I think Hillary had a good few jabs during this debate. I don’t think there was actually a winner at this debate. I don’t think there is really a winner for this election year," he said. "I think we are all losers at this point."
On race relations, the discussion on the controversial stop and frisk policy that was once used in New York City, and the difference of opinion on the matter that existed between the candidates were a "defining factor of which way I will vote", Davon said.
"There are some inherent issues with stop and frisk policies and I think it’s been shown through research that this has definitely strong racial biases in the way it’s been carried out, particularly in New York City," he said.
"I don’t think it should be something implemented here in this city and I really hope that we begin to really go back to community-based policing, really enhance the relations between the community and the police, because we need the police and the police are here to protect and serve everyone," Davon said, adding that there was a need for "healing" with respect to policing in inner cities.
Harlim, a black actor, believes there was a difference not only in opinion but also in attitude on race relations between the two candidates.
Asked what he thought the presidential hopefuls brought to the table for improving race relations at a time when more Americans than ever think relations are bad, Harlim said Trump "brought nothing to the table.
"As a matter of fact, you could tell just from his stance and his love of stop and frisk that he would just exacerbate the situation and cause more of a chasm between the races," he said.
"He was just talking to a white college educated voter, because they don’t want to be associated with a racist, so he is trying to show them, 'Oh look, look at me, I love the blacks,' and they see through that. Everybody sees through that except for his base," Harlim said.
David, a white waiter at a pizza restaurant near the Brooklyn Bridge, said he would vote for Trump because he saw the candidate as "the lesser of two evils".
David was indignant about policy decisions that came out of a Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton administration, holding them responsible for the "disaster in the Middle East" and complaining that as a low-wage worker he is being burdened by the obligatory monthly premiums for Obamacare -- the president’s signature health care policy.
"As far as I’m concerned, I’m not impressed by both of them," he said of the candidates. "This is what I think about the both of you: you both stink. But I’ll pick the lesser of two evils: Donald Trump."
Alexandra, a headhunter and a mother, said she thought Clinton being the first female presidential candidate to be nominated by a major party came through during the first debate.
"She has touched upon women’s issues more than any other candidate in the past, and it has shown also in her personal life during this campaign," Alexandra said.
"Maybe it was a tactic or a strategy, but she has underlined the fact that she is a mother and she is a grandmother, so definitely that has been an important part of her campaign to humanize her a little bit," she said. "Because a lot of arguments against her were that she is kind of a little bit like a robot and this was a good tactic in general."