The American election is slowly coming to an end. After a messy first debate, Hillary Clinton from the Democrats and Donald Trump from the Republicans both had time to prepare and strengthen their points for the 2nd debate on the 9th of October.
Social media was buzzing about how Clinton ‘won’ the first debate and how Trump had a major breakdown, so he had to prove himself during the 2nd debate. The public was looking forward to the 2nd debate ever since the media went into a frenzy after leaked recordings and tapes of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women were found.
The debate was a town hall style debate, which implies that the audience and the public would choose the debate questions along with two moderators. Each candidate had two minutes to answer the question from the public or respond to each other’s statements.
The two moderators were CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz. The debate took place at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. This state, in the Deep South, has a record of traditionally voting for republican candidates. The night was filled with vicious verbal attacks from both Trump and Clinton right from the beginning.
The debate started off with a simple question about whether Trump and Clinton were good role models to the youth of America. Clinton started off by showing her support for diversity and equality for everyone in America and used the phrase: “America is great because we’re good,” which went on to become her catchphrase for the night. Clinton stressed on wanting an improved educational system in America from primary school until university level. Trump agreed with Clinton in terms of diversity and equality, however took the opportunity to criticise Obamacare and the Affordable Care act. He also claimed that America has an 800 billion dollar trade deficit since Obama came to office. Trump also went on to talk about how he thinks he is strong with the Latino and African-American vote by “fixing” up the inner-cities.
Anderson Cooper then brought out the big question of the night about the leaked tapes that show Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. Cooper asked Trump about how he, “kissed women without consent and grabbing their genitals.” Cooper then went on to say: “That is sexual assault, you bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” Trump responded by claiming that he never said any of that and stated that it was just harmless “locker room talk.” Social media exploded by saying that Trump defending his “locker room talk” only further feeds into the idea of a patriarchal, sexist and misogynistic society. Trump then discussed ISIS and how he would: “Knock the hell out of ISIS” to deflect Cooper’s sexual assault question. Cooper attempted to steer the conversation back to Trump’s sexual assault tapes, which Trump again denied and stated: “Nobody has more respect for women than me.” Trump ended his two minutes by vowing to strengthen the borders and to “Make America great again.”
Clinton turned it up a notch by saying that, “Trump is unfit for president” and went on to talk about how he has no respect for women and people in general. Clinton listed the types of people he has offended over the past year including various women, reporters with physical disabilities, African-Americans, prisoners of war and gold star families. Trump retaliated by talking about Clinton’s past as Governor of New York as well as Secretary of State and how she failed New York city as well as the inner-city education systems.
Moderator Martha Raddatz again brought up the leaked tapes in reference to a question from the public. The question was: “Has the campaign changed Donald Trump?” She asked if his behaviour changed after the tapes or if he is still the same person. Trump responded by stating again that it was “locker room talk” and that it was just words. He then threw the nastiest low blow of the night by bringing up Bill Clinton’s sexual assault charges from the 90’s by saying Bill Clinton was far worse: “Mine are just words his was action.” To make matters worse Trump invited five of the women who were sexually assaulted to the debate. Trump went on to slam Hillary Clinton for supporting Bill Clinton at the time of the sexual assaults and ended with: “she should be ashamed of herself,” which was met with a thunderous applause from the audience. Hillary Clinton put on a sly smile and stated that most of what Trump said was, “simply not true” and went on to quote Michelle Obama and said: “If they go low, we go high.” Hillary fought back by saying that the leaked tapes are not the only incident of Trump being disrespectful and mentioned that “Trump never apologises to anyone for anything” and brought up the Khans. The Khans are a golden star family whose son died in the Iraq war. They had a major clash with Trump who went on to argue and fight with them for weeks over the fact that they were Muslim. Clinton further stated that Trump never apologised to the Khans or to Judge Gonzalo Curiel who said he “couldn’t do his job because he is of Mexican heritage as Trump is going to build a wall.” Trump had a strong retaliation as he brought up the corruption within the DNC, which was exposed through WikiLeaks.
Trump also brought up the incompetency of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who had to resign as the head of the Democratic National Convention after the email hack as it showed the DNC conspired against Senator Bernie Sanders while he was campaigning. As per usual Trump brought up Clinton’s 33,000 email scandal. Trump went a step further by stating that if he won the election, he would have a special prosecutor to handle Hillary’s case to make sure justice is served to the American people. Clinton responded by saying: “Everything that Trump just said is a lie,” which was met with a loud groan from the entire audience. A major highlight from the debate came when Clinton said: “It’s awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.” Trump sharply responded with: “Because you would be in jail,” bringing on massive cheers from the audience. Martha Raddatz went on to grill Clinton about her email scandal instigating Clinton’s inability to handle classified documents. Clinton backed herself up by stressing that after a yearlong investigation, there was absolutely no evidence that suggested her classified emails fell into the wrong hands. Hillary also attempted to deflect questions about the emails by trying to push the moderators to move on to audience questions. Trump then had a clash with Anderson Cooper when he tried to move on to the next question and Trump shrewdly snapped back and he said: “Nice, 1 on 3,” implying that the moderators were on Clinton’s side.
The next audience question was a rather important question about the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare. The audience member suggested it was too expensive and provided little to no health insurance coverage. Hillary responded by saying that Obamacare has helped millions of Americans and that they need to continue to build on it and minimise its flaws. Trump on the other hand has always been a huge critic of Obama care and opened up his statement by saying: “Obamacare is a disaster, you know it, and we all know it.” Trump continuously stressed that: “We have to replace Obamacare with something better,” however provided no replacement options or any new ideas about a new healthcare system. Trump went on to bash Hillary for attempting to replicate Canada’s model for health insurance, which Trump claims is: “Catastrophic.” Clinton repeated that 20 Million more Americans now have insurance due to Obamacare and instigated that Trump is hiding the fact that with Obamacare gone, private insurance companies are the ones with all the power. Trump has attempted to reach out and gain the support of Bernie Sanders supporters in the past and tried multiple times during the 2nd debate as well. Trump shrewdly brought up Sanders’s old statement about Hillary not having good judgement and used it as a basis to trash Hillary’s support towards Obamacare.
The next audience question has also proven to be a hot topic not just in America but on a global scale. The question was about how to solve the problem of Islamophobia as well as how to stop innocent American-Muslims from being seen as threats. Trump opened his statement by saying: “There is a problem,” and his solution was that Muslims report terrorist potential crimes when they see them. He gave an example of how, “In San Bernadino, many people saw bombs in the apartment of the two people that killed and wounded 14 people.” Fact checkers have stated that there is no evidence to back this statement. Trump then went on to criticise President Obama and Clinton for not using the term: “Radical Islamic terrorism.” Clinton used a sympathetic tone to talk about the current islamophobia issue and brought up Captain Khan again, in regards to the Khan’s feud with Trump. Clinton continued to criticise Trumps “demagogic rhetoric” towards Muslims. Clinton talked about how important it is for the Americans to make Muslims feel included and that a coalition between America and its Muslim-majority country allies must be formed in order to destroy ISIS. Clinton ended her statement by saying: “America is not at war with Islam.” Trump repeated what he has said throughout his campaign that: “If I were president at the time we would have never gone to war with Iraq,” when in reality tapes from 2002 confirm that he was for the Iraq war not against it.
Moderator Martha Raddatz brought up the controversial Trump statement about him wanting to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Raddatz also said that Trump’s running mate Mike Pence confirmed that the Muslim ban was no longer Trump’s issue. Raddatz pushed Trump into answering whether or not he still believed in the ban, but Trump said it has morphed into, “extreme vetting” because of the Syrian refugee crisis. Trump also said that the Syrian crisis is the greatest “Trojan horse of all time.” Trump stayed rigid on his hardline immigration beliefs of tighter borders to refugees whereas Clinton has stated she wants to bring in 65,000 refugees into the United States. Clinton accused Trump of helping dangerous terrorist groups because of his anti-Muslim rhetoric being used as propaganda tools to recruit hostile fighters.
In response to public question about if politicians should be allowed to hold private and public views on issues, Hillary brought up Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin. Clinton demanded that Trump release his tax statements to find out if he has any ties to Russia that he has kept secret. Trump’s infamous tax returns issue has been around since the beginning of the election where he is the only presidential nominee in the last 30 odd years to have not released his tax returns. There has been speculation that Trump is not releasing his returns because he doesn’t want the public and his voters to know that he is not as successful as he claims, which is one of his only selling points as a candidate. Trump then went on to accuse multi-billionaire Warren Buffet for not paying his taxes, immediately after the debate aired Buffet himself released all this tax returns and challenged Trump to do the same. Trump once again deflected Cooper’s question about if Trump used his supposed bankruptcy claims to avoid paying federal taxes, which Trump used as a diversion to blame Hillary for not changing tax provisions. During the 1st debate as well as the 2nd Trump constantly brought up the fact that Clinton has been in politics for 30 years but has not made any reforms to tax, defence or education even as Secretary of State, to which Clinton frustratingly replied “because I was under a republican president.” Clinton’s response was met with huge applause and is one of the more memorable lines of the night. After constant criticism from Trump about her political history, Clinton literally listed out all her biggest achievements as senator and Secretary of State in order to capture the attention of undecided swing voters.
One of the more comical parts of the night came when Raddatz asked the candidates about their solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and how they intend to get the remaining 250,000 civilians out. Trump responded with a rant on how the United States has terrible foreign policy and are losing power to Iran, Russia and Syria itself. Raddatz reminded Trump of what Mike Pence, his running mate said about the crisis, which was to show hostility to the Russians if they keep bombing the rebels in Syria. To which Trump responded: “I don’t know we haven’t talked and I disagree with him,” which begs the question what kind of relationship to Trump and his vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence have? Trump’s signature line of his campaign has been: “We are going to knock the crap out of ISIS.” But has still provided no strategy on how to do so despite the media or moderators pushing him to give an answer.
An important part of being president is catering to the needs of all Americans regardless of their political stance and what party they support. An audience member asked “Do you believe you can be a president for ALL the people.” Hillary came under fire by Cooper for a statement she previously made about Donald Trump supporters when she said: “Half of Trump’s supporters are all deplorable, racist, sexist, xenophobic.” Clinton successfully manoeuvred out of that tough spot by saying she has no problems with Trump supporters and that she has an issue in the way Trump has run his entire campaign.
The debate ended on a lighter note when an audience member asked the question: “Regardless of the current rhetoric, will either of you name one positive thing either of you respect in each other?” Clinton opened by saying she: “Respects Trump’s children and that says a lot about Donald.” Trump responded saying: “Hillary is a fighter and she doesn’t quit, I respect that.”
Compared to the 1st debate, the 2nd debate wasn’t any different. Both Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz did a fantastic job moderating despite what Fox of CNBC have been saying. The continuous referencing to Hillary’s emails, vote on the Iraq war and mistakes Bill Clinton made during his presidency as well as reference to Trumps offensive statements in the past don’t provide any new insight into their plans as potential future presidents. Hopefully the final debate will be different and both candidates talk about their ideas in more depth.