Quick takes on the second Trump-Clinton debate

The second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did not disappoint, as both candidates hit each other hard – not only in personal terms, but also on many issues involved in the 2016 race, as Clinton said Trump did not have the temperament to be President, while Trump repeatedly said that Clinton had been a “disaster” and had “tremendous hate in her heart.”

Here are five quick thoughts on what we saw in this debate:

1. A Presidential debate unlike any other. With several women in the audience who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault, the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had an edge to it before the first question was asked. While Trump said his remarks on a 2005 tape were ‘locker room talk,’ he immediately pivoted to attacks on former President Clinton, and later vowed that if he’s elected President, he would immediately instruct his Attorney General to set up a special investigation of Clinton, saying he would “make sure she is prosecuted.”

2. Trump doesn’t back down. Trump may have entered the debate under fire over that 2005 tape, but he didn’t disappoint his supporters who wanted him to go after Clinton face to face. He repeatedly said she should be in jail. Trump labeled her a ‘disgrace’ multiple times. He harped on Wikileaks. Trump hit Clinton on her emails that were deleted. It was a ‘greatest hits’ parade that many conservatives have longed to throw at Clinton – along with the attacks on Bill Clinton. In that sense, Trump certainly seemed to do very well with his base of voters.

3. Clinton tacks away on some Trump attacks.Everyone wondered what Hillary Clinton would say if Donald Trump brought up Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and other stories about her husband, the former President. Clinton did not engage on any of those topics directly, as she instead segued into other controversial statements related to Trump, like his criticism of a federal judge with a Hispanic surname and his public feud with the parents of a fallen Muslim U.S. soldier. Clinton then summed up her answer by quoting First Lady Michelle Obama – “when you go low, we go high.”


4. Trump appeals to Bernie Sanders voters. As he does on the campaign trail, Donald Trump used the debate to throw several lines to supporters of Sanders, arguing first that they were screwed by national Democrats, as shown by leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee. He talked about trade and urged Sanders voters to realize that they are closer to him on trade than Clinton. Trump also used Sanders in one of his big verbal jabs at Clinton, saying he couldn’t believe Sanders is supporting Clinton. “I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil,” Trump said.

5. What about a winner?” It’s not going to surprise me one bit for Trump to be declared the winner of this debate by some polls. Trump had many more snappy sound bites than Clinton did, and certainly seemed to have the edge in some of the quick exchanges with Clinton. “In the first debate, Trump lost with attacks; tonight, he’s winning with humor,” said GOP polling guru Frank Luntz. Trump also repeatedly sparred with the debate moderators about cutting him off, giving Clinton extra time and more. So, for those who predicted a total meltdown on stage on Sunday night, it did not happen. Democrats said nothing changed in this race. Election Day is just over four weeks away, and there is one more debate on October 19 in Las Vegas.

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