US presidential debate was ugly: Hogged by sex, lies, and crimes
Donald Trump sounded confused while Hillary Clinton seemed well researched in her responses.
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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went toe-to-toe in the second presidential town-hall style debate on Sunday night.
It was contentious and tense. They insulted each other, they attacked each other and they questioned each other's values and records. It was 90 minutes of vicious mudslinging.
The debate co-moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Anderson Cooper was a continuation of rage and anger that reached its climax after the parties, campaigns and voters have clashed over the characters and positions of the two candidates.
A CNN poll says 57 per cent believe Clinton won and only 34 per cent say Trump won. But to the supporters of both candidates, little has changed. They remain committed to their choice.
In the hours before the second presidential debate, the country was churning in negativity - nastiness and ugliness have become a cornerstone of the most unprecedented election in America.
The buzz was over a video released on Friday in which Trump was heard talking on an open microphone in 2005 about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman.
Many Republicans pulled their endorsements of Trump and political pundits were saying this is the moment that perhaps the Republican candidate had lost the election.
The Republican Party has swung into crisis mode and is scrambling to establish itself as the party that has "Christian values".Former US President and Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton. (Photo credit: Reuters)
But he came to the debate angry, defiant, shunned by many and determined to stay in the race. He accomplished that by levelling a list of harsh charges against Clinton.
At the deeply dark second debate at Washington University in St Louis, it was all about sex, secrets, crime and lies the candidates accused each other of. The candidates refused to shake hands as they met on stage but they did at the end.
Trump said Clinton attacked the women who accused her husband of sexual abuse and he vowed to send her to jail.
He was shameless in his attacks. He called her "a liar" and "the devil," all the while walking behind her as she sought to answer the accusations in her calm and measured manner. His body language was aggressive.
Viewers, analysts and others questioned why she didn't go after Trump and the release of the video but to me, it's obvious why she didn't choose to go there. It's her strategy to let her opponent self-destruct.
Clinton says she has been up against opponents and while she disagreed with their positions and policies, she has never questioned their ability to be in the race - but Trump is "unfit." And the video, she says is "who Donald is".
Trump defiantly said the tape is a "distraction from the problems facing the world". "I'm embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it's locker room talk," he said.
Trump interrupted and lied consistently about Clinton's foreign and domestic policies. And she, in turn, badgered him about his "fitness" to be in the White House.
"It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country," she said. And in a particularly ugly moment, Trump replied: "Because you'd be in jail."
While Clinton was poised and mostly restrained, there was a moment when she snapped and said: "Okay Donald, I know you're into big diversion. Anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way its exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you."
Trump would not stop. He went after her failure to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street and the investigation of her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
He also attacked Bill Clinton, who watched him sternly from his seat in the audience and he said that some of his accusers were seated in the audience as his guests.
(Earlier, while Clinton was practising for the debate, Trump was at a press conference with four of Clinton's former accusers which included Paula Jones, who won a settlement and Juanita Broaddick.)
"If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine were words and his was action. What he did to women, there's never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation who's been so abusive to women."
Clinton did not take the bait. She did not want to talk about her husband. "When I hear something like that I am reminded of what my friend Michelle Obama advised us all, 'when they go high, you go high'."
The proposed ban on Muslims, the hateful rhetoric of Mexicans and immigrants were all mentioned as well.
But Trump sounded confused, erratic and scattered while Clinton seemed lawyerly and well researched in her responses. He even disagreed with his running Mate Mike Pence's position on Russia. He said they differ.
This second debate continued the acceleration of American politics into the dirtiest election the country has ever seen. New lows are hit daily in the "most consequential election."
There will be a third debate on October 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.