Second debate: Moderators rock, Trump implodes, Clinton in solid lead - Firstpost
You are here:

Second debate: Moderators rock, Trump implodes, Clinton in solid lead

  Updated: Oct 10, 2016 09:05 IST

#DebateNight   #DonaldTrump   #HillaryClinton   #TrumpTapes  

They began without shaking hands, he called her the “devil” who has “hate in her heart”, said he’d jail her, called Bill Clinton the worst abuser in history and brushed aside his hot mic tape about trying to have sex with a married woman as “just words.”

“I didn’t do it. What Bill Clinton did was much worse,” Trump said in a another sniffle-ridden debate performance in St Louis. He was better than during the first debate but enough to stop the bleeding? The Clinton campaign machine won't allow the 'groper-in-chief' tapes to die down, so Trump's performance does not make the cut.

CNN and LA Times have called it for Clinton but each campaign has taken to its social media megaphone to claim the trophy. Clinton's video teams are on overdrive, slicing the debate video into tiny clips to blast into the final bend. Yet, it's bizarre that with an opponent like Trump, Clinton is still only a few points ahead, not even by double digits. What if Trump had not self immolated?

The Trump tapes debate

The Trump tapes debate

In a debate brimming with tension, Hillary Clinton declared Donald Trump's aggressively vulgar comments about women revealed "exactly who he is" and clearly demonstrated his unsuitability to be president.

Firing back, Trump accused Clinton of attacking women involved in her husband's extramarital affairs and declared she would "be in jail" if he were president.

Asked three times by moderator Anderson Cooper whether he had physically assaulted women the way he described on the tape, Trump said “No I have not,” although many women, including those who spoke to the Associated Press have gone on record about Trump’s lecherous ways.

This also happened to the second presidential debate in the world’s costliest election where women voters will most likely turn the tide for Hillary Clinton after tapes surfaced last week of Trump’s repellent remarks about kissing and forcing himself on women.

Moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz certainly won the night, keeping Trump on message and pushing hard for answers.

With just one debate left and this second one the most consequential, Hillary Clinton has pulled away into solid leads across key swing states over the last week of self destruction by Trump. In all the states that have the greatest chances of tipping the election, Clinton is leading. In all the states where she lost ground to Trump after her pneumonia slump, Clinton has crawled back. This leaves Trump with a very difficult path to the 270 electoral votes he needs to win.

With the second presidential debate wrapped up, the Clinton camp believes the deal is sealed.

Barely hours before the debate, Trump topped his “debate prep” by hosting a press conference with women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault or rape.

Politico called it the “nastiest debate ever.”

Trump entered Sunday night's debate desperate to steady his floundering campaign.

He unleashed a barrage of attacks and insults, and continually interrupted Clinton. He repeatedly called her a "liar," labeled her the "devil" and contended she had "tremendous hate in her heart.”

Trump acknowledged for the first time that he had paid no federal income taxes for many years.

The debate was the culmination of a stunning stretch in the race for the White House, which began with the release of a new video in which Trump is heard bragging about how his fame allowed him to "do anything" to women. Many Republicans rushed to revoke their support, with some calling for him to drop out of the race.

Answering for his words for the first time, Trump denied that he had ever kissed and grabbed women without their consent. He said repeatedly that his words in 2005 were merely "locker room talk" and paled in comparison to what he called Bill Clinton's abuse of women.

"She should be ashamed of herself," Trump declared. Ahead of the debate, the businessman met with three women who accused the former president of sexual harassment and even rape, then invited them to sit in the debate hall.

Bill Clinton never faced any criminal charges in relation to the allegations, and a lawsuit over an alleged rape was dismissed. He did settle a lawsuit with one of the women who claimed harassment.

On the debate stage, Clinton did not respond directly to Trump's accusations about her husband or her own role, but was blistering in her condemnation of his predatory comments about women in the tape released Friday.

"I think it's clear to anyone who heard him that it represents exactly who he is," she said, adding that she did not believe Trump had the "fitness to serve" as commander in chief.
The second debate was a town hall format, with several undecided voters sitting on stage with the candidates. The voters, all from the St. Louis area, were selected by Gallup.

The tension between Trump and Clinton was palpable from the start of their 90-minute debate, the second time they have faced off in the presidential campaign. They did not shake hands as they met at center stage.

Trump, who is several inches taller than Clinton, stood close behind her as she answered questions from the voters. At other times, he paced the stage, repeatedly interrupting her and criticizing the moderators.

The businessman opened the debate with a flood of insults aimed at Clinton, accusing her of having "lied about a lot of things" and insinuating she was the "devil." He struggled to articulate detailed policy proposals, repeatedly dancing around questions about how he would replace President Barack Obama's health care law, a measure he has vowed to replace.

Trump made clear that he did not agree with running mate Mike Pence on how to deal with war-torn Syria. Last week, Pence said that the U.S. military should be ready to strike Syrian military targets that are under the command of President Bashar Assad. The threat of military action against the Russia-backed Assad government marks a departure from Trump's preference for a focus on Islamic State targets.

Said Trump: "He and I haven't spoken and I disagree.”

Trump's campaign was already struggling before the new video was released, due in part to his uneven performance in the first presidential debate. Many Republicans saw Sunday's showdown as his last best chance to salvage his campaign.

It was unclear whether Trump's performance did anything to expand his support beyond his core backers. He did repeatedly cast Clinton as a career politician who had accomplished little during her years in Washington and would be incapable of bringing about change, one of his strongest argument in a campaign that has highlighted American's deep frustration.

"With her, it's all talk and no action," Trump said.

The new revelations about Trump overshadowed potentially damaging revelations about Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street firms. Emails released by Wikileaks last week showed Clinton told a group that it's acceptable for a president to project differing positions in public and private.

Asked in the debate whether that's "two-faced," Clinton pointed to Abraham Lincoln, saying he did whatever he could to get the 13th Amendment passed, allowing emancipation of the slaves, by lawmakers who did not support African-American equality.

"I was making the point it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want them to do. That was a great display of presidential leadership."

Rolling his eyes, Trump said, "Now she's blaming the late, great Abraham Lincoln.”

The political firestorm that preceded the debate was sparked by a video obtained and released Friday by The Washington Post and NBC News. In the video, Trump, who was married to his current wife at the time, is heard describing attempts to have sex with a married woman. He also brags to Billy Bush of "Access Hollywood" about women letting him kiss them and grab their genitals because he is famous.

NBC said Sunday that it had indefinitely suspended Bush, now a "Today" show personality, for his role in the crude conversation with Trump.

Trump used the revelations as an opening to make good on his repeated promises to throw Bill Clinton's sexual history into the center of his campaign against his wife. Less than two hours before the debate, he brazenly met publicly with several women who have accused Bill Clinton of unwanted sexual advances and even rape.

Trump refused to answer questions from reporters about his own aggressive sexual remarks about women during the meeting in a hotel conference room with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey. Kathy Shelton, a fourth woman who appeared with Trump, was a 12-year-old Arkansas sexual assault victim whose alleged assailant was defended by Hillary Clinton.

Some of the women seated alongside him, however, were graphic in their accusations against the Clintons.

"Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me," Broaddrick said. "I don't think there's any comparison."

Broaddrick, a former Arkansas nursing home administrator, first claimed 17 years ago that Bill Clinton raped her during a meeting in Little Rock in 1978. Her lawsuit against him was dismissed in 2001 and criminal charges were never filed. Clinton has denied the allegations.

(With reporting by Nikhila Natarajan)

Comment using Disqus

Show Comments