The second presidential debate of 2016, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, took place in St. Louis, Missouri. The debate had a different mechanic this time, as a series of undecided voters were asked to be present and to make questions to both candidates.

Tensions were heightened before the start, seeing that Trump brought to the audience four of the women that accuse Bill Clinton of sexual assault. In the end, it all seemed to serve for the worst as the first minutes of the debate were focused on the tape released by the Washington Post, where Donald Trump appears to be bragging about his lewd sexual practices and his disrespectful treating of women.

Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump
Republican Donald Trump (R) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (L) arrive at the start of the second Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., 09 October 2016. Image credit: EFE/EPA/Rick. T. Wilking.

The ungentlemanly Donald Trump

Donald Trump appeared in a suit wearing a bright red tie, while Hillary Clinton donned a dress which resembled a suit, perhaps to make Trump seem like less of a standout by partially imitating his appearance.

Voters first asked about the morality of the previous debate, as the candidates were asked if they could be a role model for Americans without any distinction.

Clinton answered by assuring that people, especially children, must learn that the United States is a great country, where its citizens may live with respect and without division. She advocated for having a better educational system with concrete and challenging goals. Clinton has named herself throughout her campaign as the candidate of unity.

Trump disagreed, saying that many unfortunate things have happened to America, but he appeared rather quiet, which was also the case in the previous debate. Trump coined his “Make America great again” slogan once more, while he dissed Obamacare and called the U.S. a weakened country with lost potential and a chaos of public order.

Moderator Anderson Cooper then reminded Trump of the question regarding his presence as a role model, to which he brought up the tapes presented by the Washington Post.

In 2005, Trump was arriving at the “Days of Our Lives” set to perform a cameo appearance. He then talked with Billy Bush, from “Access Hollywood.” In the tape, Trump reveals his attempts at having sex with a married woman, months after he had just married his current wife, Melania. The latter commented last week she found his husband’s words about women offensive. 

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it. Grab them by the p—y,” the now presidential candidate revealed to his acquaintance.

Cooper asked Trump if he kissed women even when they didn’t want to. Trump quickly responded by saying that he respects women and that they respect him. He then jumped on to say that the U.S. will be rich again and that he will create new jobs.

Clinton was given a moment to answer, so she went ahead and simply said that Trump was not a worthy candidate. The Donald Trump that appeared on the tapes is exactly who he is right now, and that is what he represents. As Clinton pointed this out, Trump walked away from the camera, perhaps to unconsciously try to avoid the potent shots that the Democratic candidate was firing.

Clinton then said that Trump’s intolerance is not only toward women, but also toward blacks, Muslims, and immigrants. She stated that Americans must truly wonder if they feel identified with Trump’s views and ideals, but she confidently denied so and reaffirmed her determination to be the next president of the United States.

Trump called Clinton a liar and vice versa, but whenever Trump was presented with the tape incident, he would divert the attention to something else. This was picked up by Clinton who affirmed that Trump has never apologized nor taken responsibility for his words.

The same answers to different questions

Donald Trump then pulled out the email server card. Clinton responded with the same mannered response as in the first debate, saying that what she did was wrong and that it was foolish of her.

Trump hinted at the possibility that some of the 33,000 emails contained classified information, but Clinton assured that none of those emails arrived in the wrong hands, arguing she had already worked with classified information while she served as secretary of state.

Donald Trump
Republican Donald Trump (R) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (L) during the second Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., 09 October 2016. Image credit: EFE/EPA/Saul Loeb.

The candidates were then asked about Obamacare and Cooper let Clinton answer first. She acknowledged that there are certain flaws in its implementation but that it is imperative to help small companies be able to afford insurance for their workers.

Clinton referred to Trump’s intention of eliminating Obamacare, but she suggests that starting from zero on that matter is not the solution. Trump bets on allowing insurance providers to compete, which will then lower coverage prices.

Then the topic shifted to Islamophobia. Donald Trump emphasized the need of urging Muslims to report any acts of violence or extremism, although he did not cite his intentions of having every American Muslim in a database and a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country.

So Trump was asked about allowing Muslims enter the U.S. He brought up the thousands of Syrian refugees that are arriving as a result of the ongoing civil war. Trump believes that these people are not investigated thoroughly, which increases the risk of being exposed to imminent terrorist threats. Then he said that he was against Iraq and Clinton quickly invited viewers to refute his remarks by visiting her campaign website.

Taxes: Trump does not pay them

One of the invited voters asked about taxes. Trump referred to his proposal in taxes, where he aims to reduce the 35 percent down to 15 percent and to reduce taxes for the middle class. After gaining some momentum, he launched at Hillary Clinton by stating that she would increase taxes for everyone, which would lead to a nationwide disaster.

Clinton confessed that she believes Trump lives in an alternate reality where his tax plan, in reality, benefits only the wealthy. She stated that in her tax plan, only those that earn over $250,000 per month would perceive a rise in taxes.

Cooper then brought up the fact that Trump had reported a $17 million loss, which allowed him to refrain from paying real estate taxes for years. Trump alleged that he understands taxes better than anyone and that Clinton acts on behalf of the interest of powerful business allies that take advantage of the same things that he does.

Donald Trump went on by saying that Clinton had bad judgment, but she responded by reminding him and the audience about her 30 years of public service, working extensively with children and minorities while also being reelected for senator of New York.

The candidates’ take on Russia’s presence in Syria

Martha Raddatz touched the subject of international policy, especially Syria, where Russia is supporting the regime of Basher al-Assad with the use of air force by bombing the capital Aleppo. Trump will focus on destroying ISIS, which he considers blamable on Kerry, Obama, and Clinton. He stated that at least 200 generals support him and 21 holders of medals of honor, and added he intends tracking down and killing the leaders of ISIS.

Clinton’s statements leaned towards the same wing of Obama’s international policy in the Middle East, which focuses towards arming Kurds and refraining from sending ground troops. She noted that Trump is supportive of Vladimir Putin, even when Russia appears to be behind the hacking of the Democratic National Headquarters web servers. Trump argues that it is necessary to ally with Russia to destroy ISIS.

Hillary Clinton
Democrat Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican Donald Trump (R) during the second Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., 09 October 2016. Image credit: EFE/EPA/ Gary He.

The final questions

The candidates were asked if they would be devout as American presidents, to which both candidates confirmed their willingness and called the other a liar. Clinton was able to tell more about her plan of making the U.S. a global superpower in clean energy while Trump proposed the repatriation of energy companies to bring back jobs and economic stability.

Lastly, the candidates were asked to say something nice about the other. Clinton said that even if she disagreed with almost everything Trump stands for, he has wonderful children and family that are capable of working for what they believe in. Trump then acknowledged that Clinton is a fighter who does not give up and that she deserves his respect.