This fall, Americans will hit the voting booths to pick their new president. Last night, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump took part in the first presidential debate. These debates (there will be two more, plus one debate between the vice-presidential candidates) are the home stretch of the election. They are important because they are the best chance for voters to compare these two choices for president face-to-face. And this debate was especially important to the public. It is believed that nearly as many people watched this debate as the Super Bowl. That's a lot of viewers!
How does the debate work?
A debate is essentially a discussion on important political issues that is led by a moderator. This debate's moderator was Lester Holt, a news anchor who works for the TV network NBC.
This debate had three main topics: America's Direction (where the country should be headed), Achieving Prosperity (how to improve jobs and the economy), and Securing America (defending the country against terrorism and other attacks). Each candidate was given a time limit to discuss each topic. They were also then given time to respond to one another's comments. It was the moderator's job to guide the debaters, making sure that they stuck to the rules.
Who "won" last night?
That's a matter of opinion. A debate isn't like a race or a baseball game. There's no clear winner. That's why today, you'll hear and read different thoughts on the debate. Some will say that Clinton did better, others will favour Trump. Each candidate had a different message. And like any argument, who "won" depends a lot on whether you agree or disagree with that message. Americans will have their say on November 8 when they cast their vote in the presidential election.