Debate Recap: Candidates come out swinging, admit some respect for each other

Audrey Carpenter

Graphic by Kyle Crompton
Graphic by Kyle Crompton

Sunday night’s debate opened up in full battle mode but ended on a lighter note when the candidates gave one aspect of the other they respected.

The second presidential debate was held at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The questions were asked directly by the audience in town-hall-style, with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz as the moderators.

With the revelation on Friday of Trump’s conversation describing sexual assault at the forefront of everyone’s mind, the nominees spent the first 30 minutes insulting each other before moving on to actual policy issues.

An hour before the debate, Trump held a press conference with three women who had accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Whether on purpose or not, the opening question of the night was about modeling good behavior.

Trump evaded the question at first, but was pressed by the moderators to give a real answer. He said his past remarks embarrassed him and chalked it up to locker room talk.

“If you look at bill Clinton it’s far worse,” Trump said. “Mine were words, his were actions.”

The argument continued as Clinton prepared for her attack. She quoted Michele Obama and said, “When they go low you go high,” suggesting that she was taking the high road. Clinton said his comments represent exactly who Trump is.

Trump went on the offensive again and brought up Clinton’s email scandal. The audience appeared to be on Trump’s side most of the debate. They cheered at his statements and booed at some of hers, earning a feisty comment from the moderators to ‘let the candidates talk.’

After the candidates brought up every aspect about the other that voters hate, the debate finally moved on to policy issues.

The issues discussed were a mix between domestic and foreign. They dealt with health care reform, refugees and Muslim Americans, tax reform, the civil war in Syria, Russian aggression, appointing Supreme Court justices and energy.

During the debate their positions were very black and white. Trump wants to repeal Obamacare while Clinton wants to reform it. Trump wants extreme vetting of Muslim Americans and refugees while Clinton wants to let more in. Trump wants to appoint conservative Supreme Court Justices like the late Antonin Scalia while Clinton wants someone who will uphold Roe V. Wade.

Trump, with his background in business, excelled at explaining his position on tax reform. He claims he will cut taxes for the middle class from 35% to 15%. Clinton’s response to this was that Trump lives in an alternate reality.

“Donald always takes care of Donald and people like Donald,” Clinton said.

Her expertise was in explaining her position on the Syrian crisis, again probably aided by her background as Secretary of State.

“When I was the Secretary of State I advocated a no fly zone and safe zones,” Clinton said. “We need leverage with the Russians because they will not go for a diplomatic resolution. We have to work with our partners and allies on the ground.”

The last question of the night was an attempted peace treaty by the audience. The candidates were asked to name one positive thing that they  in one another.

“His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with anything else he says or does. But that is something as a mother and grandmother that is very important to me,” Clinton said.

“She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter,” Trump said. “I disagree with what she is fighting for, but she does fight hard and doesn’t give up and I consider that to be a very good trait.”

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