What people around the world thought of the first U.S. presidential debate

Watch: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade insults at debate

The first U.S. presidential debate broke viewership records at home — and the rest of the world watched with great interest too. Here's what people in other countries thought of the first head-to-head matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

In Mexico, they were hoping Clinton would do better

Trump has attracted widespread hostility in Mexico for his threats to deport immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally and to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the wake of Monday night’s presidential debate, some analysts here were disappointed that Clinton did not do better.

“Clinton wins the debate; the key question is if this first debate stops the momentum of Trump,” Arturo Sarukan, a former Mexican ambassador in Washington, said on Twitter. “Not yet I think.”

“Hillary wins by points when she needed a knockout,” wrote Gabriel Guerra Castellanos, another former Mexican diplomat.

Meanwhile, the Mexican currency rose 1.7% to 19.5415 to the dollar as of late morning Tuesday, Bloomberg reported, “a sign investors may perceive Hillary Clinton outperformed Donald Trump in the first U.S. presidential debate.”

— Patrick J. McDonnell and Cecilia Sanchez in Mexico City

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China tunes in to U.S. presidential debate to witness ‘a drama of hurting each other’

Before the debates, the official Xinhua News agency offered this brief preview: “The American voters are going to watch a drama of hurting each other.”

China’s state broadcasters did not air the U.S. presidential debate. But more than 118,000 people watched a live stream of the debate on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, making it the 18th most popular topic on the site. 

Many of their more than 2,500 comments focused on Clinton's appearance and Trump's penchant for falsehoods. “Hillary’s lipstick fits her suit well,” one person wrote. “Trump’s mouth is full of bull,” wrote another.

“China should elect its president this way,” somebody posted in a not-so-subtle dig at communism.

Some took the opportunity to speculate on what each candidate would mean for China. “If Trump is elected, he will be like the president of the Philippines, who has a big mouth,” one wrote. “The world will become as thrilling as a roller coaster."

"If Hillary is elected, she will continue her tough foreign policy towards China, but her husband will help to improve the economy,” wrote another. “So our economy will be better too!”

— Jonathan Kaiman and Jessica Meyers in Beijing

South African analyst: ‘The lamest exchange on race relations EVER’

For many South Africans, who focused on U.S. race relations as a key debate issue, neither side performed well.

Radio broadcaster, Eusebius McKaiser, called it “the lamest exchange on race relations EVER — from both candidates. Neither showed a grasp of black life in the US.”

“The most painful white lie told tonight by both #Clinton & #Trump is that #BlackLivesMatter. Both are morally bankrupt,” tweeted a South African media and political communication strategist, Kim Heller.

One South African with the Twitter handle @Sentletse attacked Clinton as “part of that government that murders black men.”

“Trump spends his days defending cops who shoot unarmed black men... among other things,” retorted another South African user, @ChantelleInCapeTown.

In other African countries, many declared Clinton to be the debate winner, unimpressed by Trump’s “buffoonery,” and his “childish anger and disruption.”

Kenyan lawyer, Donald Kipkorir compared Trump with former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and former Central African Republic dictator, Jean-Bédel Bokassa. “Donald Trump belongs to same buffoonery gallery as Idi Amin & Jean Bédel Bokassa; not White House, & not Leader of Free World,” he tweeted.

In Zimbabwe, lawyer and analyst, Alex Magaisa, tweeted that the election race wasn’t over and that Trump could still win. 

“After #Brexit I have learnt nothing can be taken for granted. The most absurd can and does happen in politics!” he said.

– Robyn Dixon in Johannesburg

Analysis:Trump flinched under Clinton’s criticism, but this race is not over »

In Egypt, hoping that Trump comes to power

Asked what he thought of the U.S. presidential debate as he walked to work through the streets of Cairo’s affluent Zamalek neighborhood, Raffik Kamel said that Hillary Clinton appeared stronger. But he also criticized her record as secretary of State in the Obama administration during the “Arab Spring” uprising.

“We had a bad experience with her with the revolution in 2011,” he said.

Kamel, part of the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt that faced increased attacks and discrimination during the unrest, blamed the Obama administration for mishandling the revolution, which led to the rise of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood until the military retook control of the country. 

Trump clearly has his problems too, Kamel said, chuckling at the candidate’s comments about having a good temperament.

But Kamel said he has warmed to Trump, especially after the Republican met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi last week during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“I hope Trump comes” to power, he said. “In the beginning, I was not convinced about him. After he met our president, I see he can help us.”

— Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

German papers crown Clinton

In Germany, newspapers saw Clinton as the clear winner. The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which is close to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, proclaimed: "The tailwind boosting Trump is gone."

"Hillary Clinton presented herself as the epitome of competent sobriety against a poorly prepared Donald Trump,” the liberal Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said. “That might have been enough to pull the wool over the eyes of the Republican voters in the primaries."

"Rarely was an American presidential debate ever as aggressive as this was,” declared conservative daily Die Welt. “That was due mainly to Trump, who constantly tried to interrupt Clinton with long and meandering self-justification narratives. Based on standard criteria, Clinton nevertheless handily won this debate."

But the Bild newspaper, the country's bestselling daily, sounded a note of caution: "Clinton won this round by points, but it was not yet a knock out blow for Trump."

– Erik Kirschbaum in Berlin

Israelis set their alarm clocks to watch Clinton vs. Trump

Even though the U.S. presidential debate began at 4 a.m. local time, Israel’s public television channel broadcast it live with simultaneous Hebrew translation.

Israelis tend to follow U.S. politics, but this presidential election has generated extra interest. “At 4:30 my Twitter feed was filled with Hebrew comments,’’ Tal Schneider, a political blogger who hosted a WhatsApp group for debate watchers. “A lot of people set their alarm clocks.”

It's no surprise that Israelis have been trying to discern where the candidates would take U.S. policy on two issues: the U.S.-led nuclear agreement with Iran and the stymied peace process with the Palestinians.

While Trump is seen as hewing to recent Republican approach of unqualified support for Israel on both issues, his talk about resetting foreign ties with allies in Europe and Asia has stirred concern about what consequences that could have for Israel. Though Clinton is better known than Trump in Israel, there’s concern that she would continue the Obama administration’s critical posture toward expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

– Joshua Mitnick in Tel Aviv

Trump supporters are like Brexit voters, Farage says

Monday night’s presidential debate was followed closely followed in Britain, with political commentators widely taking the view that Clinton had the edge over Trump. Clips from the head-to-head played throughout the day on 24-news channels, showing some of their most personal, bitter attacks on each other.

The most resounding support for Trump’s performance came from former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who played a key role in spearheading Britain’s vote to leave the EU in June’s referendum, and recently appeared at a Trump rally urging voters to back the Republican candidate.

“Ultimately, this is about do you want to vote for the establishment? Do you want to vote for business as usual? Or do you want to vote for change?” Farage said in an interview with the BBC that he tweeted on his personal account.

“That is what this election is all about. Mr Trump’s voters are a bit like Brexit voters. They believe in it, they have enthusiasm, they have passion. He is the one with momentum, I still think he is gonna win.”

— Christina Boyle in London

Nicole Liu and Yingzhi Yang in the Times’ Beijing bureau contributed to this report.


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