Tue, Oct 11, 2016 - Page 1 News List

No holds barred in second debate

AP, WASHINGTON and ST LOUIS, Missouri

People gather to watch the second presidential debate between US Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump at the United Democratic Headquarters in Pasadena, California, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

It started the minute they walked on stage and skipped the pretense of a cordial handshake.

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, looked each other straight in the eye at the start of their second debate and set out to destroy one another.

Given the perfect opening when moderator Anderson Cooper bored in on recent revelations about Trump’s predatory comments about women, Clinton struck first, and it was clear she was ready.

“Like everyone else,” Clinton said, “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking over the last 48 hours about what we heard and saw.”

She would have none of Trump’s claims that his comments about women were nothing more than locker room banter.

“This is who Donald Trump is,” she said.

She added that it was not just women that Trump had disparaged, but also immigrants, blacks, Latinos, the disabled, prisoners of war, Muslims “and so many others.”

Trump was ready to pounce with an ugly counteroffensive.

“If you look at [former US president] Bill Clinton, far worse,” the Republican candidate said.

Yes, Trump allowed, he was sorry for what he had said about women. However, his own mistakes, Trump said, were mere “words”; Bill Clinton’s mistakes, he said, were “action.”

Trump gave a shout-out to the women he had placed in the front row of the audience, including three who had accused Bill Clinton of rape or sexual impropriety.

“You can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women,” he said. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”

A fourth woman in the audience, Trump said, had been a 12-year-old rape victim whose alleged attacker Hillary Clinton had represented, successfully, as a defense lawyer. Not only that, Trump said, Clinton had laughed at the girl.

The facts: Bill Clinton never faced any criminal charges in relation to the alleged sexual improprieties, and a lawsuit over an alleged rape was dismissed. He did settle a lawsuit with one of the women who claimed harassment.

Hillary Clinton, for her part, played a key role in defending her husband against allegations of sexual improprieties, but there is no clear or independent evidence that she either enabled his activities or bullied his accusers.

She did reluctantly represent the defendant in the rape case. She did laugh in discussing procedural details of the case, but there is no evidence she laughed at the victim.

Trump also labeled his opponent “the devil” and promised she would “be in jail” if he were president because of her e-mail practices at the US Department of State — a threat that drew widespread criticism

The exchange captured all of the vitriol and disdain that these two candidates have harbored against one another from day one of the campaign.

Opinion polls suggest that Hillary Clinton won the debate, but the snap surveys of debate watchers showed a less decisive victory for her than the first debate

A CNN/ORC poll of viewers gave Hillary Clinton a clear win, with 57 percent saying she won as opposed to 34 percent for Trump.

However, a YouGov survey showed a narrower victory, with 47 percent of registered voters who watched the debate saying she prevailed and 42 percent saying Trump did.

The rest said it was a tie.

Additional reporting by AFP

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