Donald Trump went on the attack in the second televised U.S. presidential debate with rival Hillary Clinton in St Louis last night.
The Republican presidential candidate used the occasion to fend off recent claims of sexism leveled against him by a leaked video tape over the weekend by launching an assault on former president Bill Clinton and his actions against women, some of whom present in the audience.
News Talk reports:
In an ill-tempered 90-minute clash, Mr Trump was responding to revelations of his boasts about how he treats women.
“Mine were words, his was action,” he said of Bill Clinton.
“What he’s done to women, there’s never been any body in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women.”
He said Mrs Clinton “should be ashamed of herself” for her support of her husband.
Mr Trump had invited four women who have made accusations against the Clintons to take seats in the debate audience. They included Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick who have made high-profile claims.
Mrs Clinton quoted Michelle Obama in her response: “When they go low, we go high.”
She accused Mr Trump of diversion tactics “because of the Republicans deserting his campaign”.
Dozens of senior Republican figures have distanced themselves from Mr Trump over the recording of his 2005 comments. Some have urged him to leave the race.
He said he had never assaulted women and repeated his apology for the ‘locker room banter’. He said: “I’m not proud of it.”
“I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women.”
Mrs Clinton said: “He says this is not who he is. I think it is clear to anyone who has heard it, it is exactly who he is.”
The debate was held in town-hall style with questions from members of the public.
It was closely contested and packed with cheap shots.
Social media response
A massive social media response included mention that the pair did not shake hands at the start of the debate.
Here are some of the views of people watching and tweeting:
US chat show host Jerry Springer: “While I may not be able to moderate a debate, sounds like Mike Pence and Donald Trump might need to come on my show to talk things out.”
Film-maker Michael Moore: “The crash & burn of Donald Trump didn’t happen tonight. He didn’t lose a single vote, maybe gained some. She again was the smart 1. And kind.”
Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post: “Okay, you can let the kids back into the living room – the presidential debate is over. #debate.”
Star Trek star George Takei: “Trump keeps trying to deny what is plain as day in his tweets and for all to hear on those video tapes. He may lie, but the record doesn’t.”
Political commentator Iain Dale: “Debate verdict? Loathsome Trump let off the hook by Hillary. He lives to fight another day. Which presumably is just what Hillary wanted.”
Actress Emmy Rossum: “Hate in a heart is what YOU HAVE, Donald Trump [not Hillary].”
Mike Pense, Mr Trump’s running mate: “Congrats to my running mate @realDonaldTrump on a big debate win! Proud to stand with you as we #MAGA.”
Political commentator Sally Kohn: “So everybody noticed that Donald Trump really didn’t say anything substantive, right?”
“Big difference between him and you”
Mrs Clinton was asked paid speeches she had given to Wall Street bankers and which have been leaked by WikiLeaks.
In one she she talked of having different positions in public and private. She said she was quoting lessons from Abraham Lincoln.
Mr Trump joked that ‘Honest Abe’ did not lie – “big difference between him and you”.
The pair clashed on familiar territory of immigration, dealing with ISIS and taxes. Mr Trump again come under fire for not revealing tax returns.
On Mrs Clinton’s e-mail scandal, Mr Trump said: “If I win, I’m going to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies and so much deception.
“You should be ashamed of yourself.”
He said she would be “in jail” if he were in charge of the country’s legal system.
Mrs Clinton again called out Mr Trump’s statements for fact-checking and she again faced repeated interruptions from her rival. He claimed the debate moderators were acting in her favour.
He also publicly disagreed with his running mate Mike Pence on Syria policy and apparently confirmed he has not paid federal tax for years.
Mrs Clinton said she had received letters from teachers about ‘the Trump effect’ and an increase in bullying because of the rhetoric Mr Trump has used.
He insisted his Twitter row with a former Miss Universe did not show a lack of discipline to be Commander in Chief.
Mr Trump said Mrs Clinton had “tremendous hate in her heart” after she called half of his supporters “deplorables”.
The biggest laugh of the night came when they were asked if there was anything they respected about each other.
Mrs Clinton said she admired Mr Trump’s children. He said he admired that “she never quits”.
With a month to go until the election, Mrs Clinton’s poll lead over Mr Trump has increased since she was adjudged to have won the first debate. She leads in national surveys and in critical swing states.
The two will face off again in Las Vegas on October 19th, their last televised clash before election day on November 8th.
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