Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Trump, Fighting for Political Life, |Wages a Scorched-Earth Debate

ST. LOUIS (CN) — The second presidential debate between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton got off to an icy start as the participants refused to shake hands setting the tone for a hostile debate.

Trump wasted no time trying to deflect from the damage a video released Friday by attacking Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. The video, from 2005, showed Trump making several derogatory comments about women.

"When you look at Bill Clinton, mine were words, his were actions," Trump said, referring to several women who had accused the former president of sexual misconduct.

Trump also attacked Hillary Clinton's defense of a man accused of raping a girl in Arkansas.

When pressed about the video, Trump tried to play it off as "locker room talk" and apologized for it.

"That was locker room talk," Trump said. "I am not proud of it. That was something that happened. If you look at Bill Clinton, what he has done is far worse. There is no one in the history of politics that has been so terrible to women."

Clinton responded by saying she believes in the advice offered by First Lady Michelle Obama: "When they go low, you go high."

Trump tried to divert the discussion to Hillary Clinton's email scandal, threatening to hire a special prosecutor to reopen the investigation into the deletion of 33,000 emails if elected.

Trump was pressed on his statement in December about banning the entrance of all Muslims into the country.

Trump backtracked, calling it "extreme vetting." He said Hillary Clinton's plan to let Syrian refugees into the country would be "the greatest Trojan horse of our lifetime."

Hillary Clinton responded that Syrian men, women and children are suffering in part due to Russian aggression and attacked Trump's statements.

"What he said was extremely unwise and dangerous," Hillary Clinton said. "And if you look at propaganda on terrorist websites, what Trump's said is being used to recruit fighters."

Trump repeatedly interrupted Hillary Clinton and the debate moderators, CNN's Anderson Cooper and ABC's Martha Raddatz. Ha also accused Cooper and Raddatz of siding with Clinton.

"Three against one, that's very nice," he said at one point.

Finally, Clinton retorted, "I know that you're into big diversions tonight."

The subject turned to an email released by a WikiLeaks last week in which Clinton said it's acceptable for a president to have two positions, one for private consumption and one for the public.

Raddatz asked Clinton whether she was being two-faced.

Clinton responded by saying if she remembers correctly, the quote was inspired by Doris Kerns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," which focused on Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet.

Clinton said Lincoln did whatever he could to get the 13th Amendment passed, allowing emancipation of the slaves, by lawmakers who did not support African-American equality.

"I was making the point it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want them to do. That was a great display of presidential leadership," she said.

Trump rolled his eyes.


"Now she's blaming the late, great Abraham Lincoln," he said. "There's a big, big difference between you and Abraham Lincoln, believe me."

When Raddatz read to Trump what his vice-president candidate Mike Pence said about his stance on the Syria conflict, Trump admitted, "He and I haven't spoken and we disagree."

Cooper read a question from social media asking Hillary Clinton how she expects to unite a country when she recently called a majority of Trump's supporters "deplorable."

Hillary Clinton responded, "My argument is not with his supporters, but him."

Finally, the candidates were asked about the types of Supreme Court justices they would appoint.

Hillary Clinton said she felt the court was heading into the wrong direction. She wants the court to understand voter's rights are still a problem and a wants a court that would uphold Roe v. Wade and marriage equality.

"I would appoint a Supreme Court justice who understands how the real world works," she said.

Trump said he would look for a justice in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia, a noted opponent of abortion and marriage equality rights.

Just an hour and a half before the debate with Clinton, Trump held a surprise panel, broadcast live to Facebook, with women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.

The women included Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton. Broaddrick, Jones and Willey have directly accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, while Shelton was 12 when she was raped by a 41-year-old man in Arkansas. Hillary Clinton represented the man who eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Seated next to them, Trump addressed viewers ahead of the debate, making an issue of Bill Clinton's own sexual history as the GOP nominee faces a mass defection from within his own party after being caught bragging about sexual assault.

"These four very courageous women have asked to be here, and it was our honor to help them," Trump said of the women who then excused his comments caught on tape and released on Friday, according to Politico.

"Actions speak louder than words," Broaddrick said. "Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don't think there's anything worse."

Clinton's campaign responded by calling it a stunt.

The debate was the second of three between Trump and Clinton. It was a town hall format instead of the traditional two podium affair like the first debate between the two.

In a town hall format, the candidates field questions from undecided voters in the audience, as selected by Gallup, and from other social media sources, as selected by the Commission on Presidential Debate, a bipartisan organization that manages the official contests.

The candidates had two minutes to answer the questions and had the ability to move around the stage, putting them is close proximity to the audience.

It has the fifth debate hosted by Washington University, more than any other institution in history. Between 1992 and 2008, the Commission on Presidential Debates asked the university to host debates in five consecutive elections, but the debate scheduled for Sept. 25, 1996, was canceled two weeks prior.

Photo caption:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listen during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

Photo caption:

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listen to a question during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

Follow @@joeharris_stl
Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.