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Republican candidate Donald Trump lashed out against China and Mexico in the first few minutes of Monday's closely watched presidential debate, setting the stage for an aggressive blame game.
NBC moderator Lester Holt kicked off the 90-minute session with a question on how each candidate would create jobs that would put more money in the hands of American workers.
Trump responded with a direct attack on two familiar targets: the trade threat posed by China and Mexico.
"Our jobs are fleeing the country, they are going to Mexico, and many other countries," the 70-year-old told the audience at Hofstra University in New York.
"Look at what China is doing to our country ... They are devaluing their currency and we have nobody in our government to fight them ... They are using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing."
By reducing U.S. taxes from 35 to 15 percent for companies of all sizes and by renegotiating trade deals, job creation could return to the glory days of Ronald Regan's administration, Trump said. Those measures would stop foreigners from stealing American jobs and prevent companies such as Ford from leaving the world's number one economy, he added.
Storied U.S. car maker Ford said this month that the company's small-car production would move to Mexico over the next two to three years, citing the need to be competitive.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who responded to Holt's question after Trump, advocated increasing the national minimum wage, providing equal pay for women, and corporate profit-sharing as ways to create new jobs with rising incomes.
Trump accused Clinton of failing to improve people's lives during her political career, to which Clinton responded "Donald, I know you live in your own reality."