By Matthew Rios – Collegiate Staff
Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met Sunday night for the second of three presidential debates. Since they first met many developments in the race raised the stakes for both nominees going into Sunday.
On Oct. 1, the New York Times reported on documents leaked to the publication that in 1995 Trump took a nearly a $1 billion loss that could have allowed him to have not paid taxes for 18 years.
On Oct. 8, the Friday going into the debate, WikiLeaks released hack emails with excerpts of speeches Clinton gave to Wall Street groups where she speaks of the benefit of having a public and private position. The Washington Post released video of a Trump talking to access hollywood host Billy Bush in which the candidate describes his habit of forcing himself on women and grabbing them in vulgar terms.
Then on Saturday, CNN released video of Trump allowing his own daughter to be referred to objectively for her looks and Republican leaders began dropping support for their candidate.
Trump held a press conference an hour and a half before Sunday’s debate with four women who accused former President Bill Clinton of inappropriate sexual behavior and Clinton of strong arming and threatening them.
This set the stage of events going into Sunday’s 90-minute, town hall style debate. The town hall format sourced questions from the audience that was preselected by Gallup who identified as undecided. CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz were charged with moderating the night.
Tensions were high as the the candidates refused to shake hands as they came on stage. No smiles were shared and it was clear from the off beginning, all passive aggressive pretences were dropped for the night.
Minutes into the debate the tapes released Friday of Trump talking crassly about women came up. The moderator, Cooper, called his words “sexual assault” and asked if Trump understood that. Trump said Cooper did not understand what he had said, pivoted to ISIS, downplayed the tape as locker room talk, before pivoting back to ISIS again. Clinton said that Trump was unfit to be Commander-in-Chief in regards to the leaked tapes. The video details exactly who Trump is, in Clinton’s words.
Trump fired back at Clinton calling her husband, former President Bill Clinton, the worst abuser of women ever in the White House. Trump then began to recite the accusations the women he presented at the press conference before the debate held against the former president. In response, Clinton quoted Michelle Obama stating that “when they go low you go high,” declining to debate on behalf of her husband, and then pivoting back to Trump’s comments of Women, Latinos, Muslims and others.
Trump fired back at Clinton’s character attack, stating that if he wins he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton. Clinton said Trump’s temperament is proof as to why he should not be in charge of the nation’s laws. Trump responded that if he was in charge, Clinton would be in jail. Clinton was pressed by Trump and the audience about her emails as Secretary of State, and said she was sorry and wouldn’t do it again. Trump claimed Clinton was lying again and that she deleted 33,000 emails after receiving a subpoena.
When pressed about the Wikileaks speech excerpts, Clinton said the context was in reference to the movie “Lincoln” and his strategy to pass the 13 Amendment. Trump attacked Clinton, saying she had lied again.
ANALYSIS: The whole night was a contentious exercise. Trump spoke to his base more than the middle of the road voters needed to win next month. Clinton’s attacks focused on her opponent and pivoted as often to Trump’s character as the moderators would allow. This is a decisive time and the candidates exemplified that fact tonight. Trump came into the debate bleeding and despite a better performance than the first debate, walked out still bleeding. Clinton won the night by not being her opponent.
The final debate between the two candidates will be Wednesday Oct. 19 at 9pm ET at the University of Nevada with moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News. Given the nature of this election cycle there is no telling what will happen between now and then.