Everything you need to know about the first US presidential debate


It's been a unique US presidential battle so far, and that's putting it mildly. So chances are that tonight's debate won't be one to miss, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be pitted against each other for the first time.

The debate, which comes six weeks before election day, is likely to have foreign policy high on the agenda. Both candidates met (separately) with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently.

Hats supporting either candidate.
(Mark Lennihan/AP)

While reporters were barred from covering either meeting, Clinton's campaign said the two had an "in-depth conversation". She stressed that "a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States" and "reaffirmed unwavering commitment" to the relationship.

They also discussed Iran, the conflict in Syria and other regional challenges, including her support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict negotiated by the two parties, not an outside organisation like the United Nations Security Council.

Hillary Clinton
(Matt Rourke/AP)

Trump and Netanyahu discussed "at length" Israel's use of a fence to help secure its borders, an example Mr Trump frequently cites when he is talking about the wall he wants to build between the US and Mexico. The two men have known each other for years, and also discussed security issues such as the nuclear deal with Iran and the battle against Islamic State militants.

The meetings were designed to put Israel on good footing with the next US president, but also served to showcase the candidates' expertise in foreign policy in the shadow of their first debate today, which comes six weeks before election day.

Donald Trump
(Steve Helber/AP)

Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, often says that Trump does not know enough about the world and lacks the temperament to be president.

Whereas on the flipside, Trump has argued that he has extensive experience with foreign policy through his career as a business executive and blames Clinton for many of the nation's stumbles in foreign policy.

Tonight's showdown is expected to draw 75 million viewers - many of them disenchanted with both candidates, the least-popular presidential hopefuls in history.

Hofstra University
(J. David Ake/AP)

Facts are a key concern for many, with Trump's habit of saying things that are untrue and the public's general distrust of Clinton.

Indeed Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook told ABC's This Week that he is concerned that Trump will get away with saying things that aren't true, and called on moderator Lester Holt to correct any inaccuracies that are made.

Showing how there is no love lost between the candidates, Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway shot back that it was not the job of debate moderators to fact check.

Presidential debate.
(Julio Cortez/AP)

In more jabs at each other, Trump had tweeted that if frequent Trump critic Mark Cuban attended the showdown, he would put Gennifer Flowers, allegedly the former mistress of Bill Clinton, in the audience too. Conway said on ABC that this was Trump wanting "to remind people that he's a great counter-puncher".

However, it doesn't look like this counter-punch will see the light of day, as Trump's vice presidential running mate Mike Pence confirmed that she wouldn't be attending.

Presidential debate.
(Patrick Semansky/AP)

"If she treats me with respect I'll treat her with respect," Trump told Fox News last week. This remains to be seen, considering the low blows that have been dealt on both sides.

All eyes are on the presidential debate tonight to see how well both candidates can counter-punch, and who will come out on top. The debate will take place at Hofstra University in Long Island.