US Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have squared off their second debate with nasty remarks, mud slinging, threats of jail and the Republican candidate meandering around the stage, which many have seen as pacing malevolently behind his rival.
The 90-minute debate, which was in the town hall format with undecided voters asking questions at a Washington University Campus, took the campaign, which turned to be the most dramatic and bitter one with the surfacing of a video footage that showed Trump making lewd and outrageous remark on women, to an uglier turn.
The video and his defense by bringing in Hillary’s husband Bill Clinton’s sex life seems to be still looming over Trump with the potential to hemorrhage his prospects, especially as many of his party colleagues including top leaders of the Grand Old Party, disowning him.
Some political observers said Trump faired better than expected but could not do much recovery and Hillary did not effectively use many ammunition against her political rivals, while others termed the candidates even avoided the customary hand shake and just said hello to each other as they came on to the stage prompting political commentators to term the debate as “uncivilized” and “ugliest yet.”
Various surveys conducted post the second debate showed Hillary clearly ahead of Trump in the race. But a CNN survey of debate watchers said 63 per cent agreed Trump did better than expected.
“Donald Trump is even in worse shape than before. He performed better than before. He was in such a damaged position already that I don’t think he could have improved the situation,” said Richard Potts, Professor, Political Science in Concordia University, Texas.
When Trump was asked about his bragging that he has “sexually assaulted women”, Trump apologized but then changed the topic to the ISIS. “I’m very embarrassed by it,” Trump said. “I hate it. But it’s locker-room talk. It’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re gonna defeat ISIS … We should get on to much more important things.”
Hillary used her chance to remind the voters what they have heard Trump saying in the 2005 video clip. “What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women. And he has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is, but I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.”
To counter her, Trump unfurled nasty attack on Hillary’s husband former President Bill Clinton- who was present with their daughter in the gallery –and confronted her on her private email server alleging that she had deleted 33000 emails. He even brought the complainants against Bill Clinton to the audience.
“Mine were words, his was action,” Trump said of Bill Clinton. “What he’s done to women, there’s never been any body in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women.”
However, experts, through social media and in television debates, disapproved this. “It was an expected but illegitimate attack, because Bill Clinton is not running for the president. To some degree, the question remains whether Hillary had punished the women, who were victims to Clinton,” Potts said.
The Republican frontrunner then threatened to prosecute Clinton over her email use as secretary of state if he were elected president. “If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation – there has never been so many lies and so much deception,” he said. When Clinton said it was “awfully good” that someone like Trump was not in charge of the law in the US, Trump retorted: “Because you’d be in jail.”
Trump repeatedly alleged that Hillary has lied so many times. “Never seen so many lies, so much deception,” he said.
Hillary fired off attacks against her Republican rival too and one comment she got a loud applause from the audience was when she quoted Michelle Obama. “When they go low, you go high.” She took him on for not apologising to President Obama for questioning his birthplace, to Captain Humayun Khan, the young American soldier who sacrificed himself defending the country for attacking him and to the reporter he maimed on television.
Just like Michelle says, when they go low, we go high. @HillaryClinton went high and showed why she’ll be a POTUS for all Americans.
— President Obama (@POTUS) October 10, 2016
“With prior Republican nominees for president, I disagreed with them. Politics, policies, principles … but I never questioned their fitness to serve,” she said adding. “Donald Trump is different,” she said adding that he was not fit for the office.
While Trump surprised everyone when he disagreed with his running mate Mike Pence over his views on Syria, Clinton attacked Trump for his praises for Valdimir Putin. She alleged that hackers supported by Russia was trying to influence the US election and WikiLeaks that have put her into trouble was part of it. “Russia has decided who should be the US president and that’s not me,” she said. But Trump responded saying he does not know Putin and he knows “nothing about Russia.”
One of the questioners, a Muslim woman, asked Trump about the Islamophobia and his past remarks on banning Muslims from entering the US. He defended it saying his policy on Muslim immigration has “morphed” into “extreme vetting.” On the same question Clinton said as president she will not let anyone into the country who she thinks poses a risk to America but a lot of refugees, mostly women and children, cannot be refused entry in the US just because they are Muslims. “How do you do that? We are country founded on religious freedom and liberty. How do we do what he has advocated without causing great distress within our own country? Are we going to have religious tests when people fly into our country? And how do we expect to be able to implement those?” she asked.
But Potts said nothing from Trump could moderate his past comments on Muslims, although he tried for it. “Nothing can make Muslims comfortable with Trump,” he said.