By Dorian Armstrong
When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump refused to shake hands before the second presidential debate on Sunday, Oct. 9, the tone for the evening was set.
Moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz of CNN immediately prompted each candidate to answer for their own personal scandal: Trump’s remarks about women from a 2005 video that surfaced on Friday, Oct. 7, and Clinton’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State. Both candidates deflected these questions, and even some questions from audience members, to focus on their plans, as well as their opponent’s plans, for the country.
“You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals,” Cooper said to Trump at the start of the debate. “That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
“No, I didn’t say that at all,” Trump said. He dismissed what he called “locker room talk” before attacking Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for being hypocritical.
“Bill Clinton was abusive to women,” Trump said. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”
Clinton denied the accusation.
“So much of what he’s just said is not right, but he gets to run his campaign any way he chooses,” Clinton said. “Everyone can draw their own conclusions at this point about whether or not the man in the video or the man on the stage respects women. But he never apologizes for anything to anyone.”
Trump emphasized his anger at Clinton by promising legal reprehension against her over her scandals.
“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” he said in reference to Clinton’s email scandal. “If you did that in the private sector, you’d be put in jail, let alone after getting a subpoena from the United States Congress.”
Clinton later talked about her ability to get things done, which she said would continue to happen if she were elected president.
“I’ve proven that I can, and for 30 years, I’ve produced results for people,” Clinton said. She cited her targeting of Al Qaeda officials as proof of her ability to fight ISIS and said she “would specifically target Baghdadi” in the same way. She also brought up her experience fighting for healthcare for children and 9/11 first responders, her advocacy of women’s rights around the world and her diplomacy with Russia.
Meanwhile, Trump focused on disparaging the ideas of Clinton, President Barack Obama and some of his fellow Republicans. Lamenting the slow pace of the war against ISIS, he criticized the Obama administration for publicizing its battle strategy, despite Raddatz’s possible explanations of psychological warfare and civilian evacuations.
When Raddatz prompted Trump on his running mate Mike Pence’s beliefs about using force against Russia and the Syrian government if provoked, Trump responded, “He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree.”
The last audience question earned the biggest applause of the night: “Regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”
Clinton commended Trump as a father of “incredibly able and devoted” children, while Trump backtracked from previous attacks on Clinton’s stamina and said, “She does fight hard, and she doesn’t quit, and she doesn’t give up.”
Afterwards, the candidates finally shook hands before they left the stage.