Some pundits are already calling Sunday’s United States Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate and Donald Trump the nastiest in the country’s history.
But, to be honest, it is not surprising that the debate will go into a dirt road. On Friday, the Washington Post released a video footage of Mr. Trump making lewd statements about a married woman and bragging about sexually assaulting women. The release immediately caused a meltdown of the Trump campaign forcing many outraged top members of his party to disavow their support for him.
Later that night, Mr. Trump released a video statement apologising for the statement but he remained defiant accusing his rival and the media of a gang-up against him. He subsequently suggested that nothing he said was as bad as cases of sexual assaults against former President Bill Clinton, his challenger’s husband.
Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Trump held a press conference with three accusers of Mr. Clinton.
The lewd comments have hurt Mr. Trump’s campaign with many analysts saying he may not recover from the revelation. In fact, many prominent Republican had called on their party’s candidate to step down. Mr. Trump told his supporters on Saturday outside the Trump Tower in New York that that would not happen “in a million year”. “I’m still in the race 100 percent,” he added.
Like an outpunched boxer would swing from all angles in the final round of a boxing match with the hope to score a knock out, Trump was frontal and aggressive from the start. As expected, the debate almost immediately started with Mr. Trump’s lewd comments, the biggest news of the week.
Mr. Trump’s first response to a question about the tape was to deny the comments he made. “No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was said,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, one of the debate’s moderators.
He later admitted that what he said was “locker room talk”. He then added that he was embarrassed by it. In an attempt to deviate from the question, he said the unrelated: “I will knock the hell out of ISIS”. On the insistence of the Mr. Cooper, Mr. Trump added: “I have great respect for women and nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
When asked what she thought of Mr Trump’s leaked lewd comment, Mrs. Clinton started off by saying she thought Trump was not fit to be president.
“The video represents exactly who he is. We’ve seen him rank women on their appearance. We saw him after the first debate, denigrating a former Miss Universe. It is not only this video that raises question about his fitness to be president,” she said.
Mr. Trump didn’t take her view of him quietly, he immediately unleashed a long tirade about the cases of sexual assaults against Mr. Clinton while adding that his rival aided it by attacking his husband’s accusers. He had also invited the tree accusers who was with her at the press conference earlier to the debate. He also said Mr. Clinton was impeached. Though the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Mr. Clinton in 1998, following his affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, he survived the vote in the Senate.
On the question about Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and deleted email, an issue that has plagued the Democratic candidate like a stench, Mr. Trump threatened to jail Mrs. Clinton over her use of a private server and deleting over 30,000 emails, a comment many American pundits consider unprecedented and outrageous to make.
Mr. Trump said his rival was all talk and no result. He described her years of public service as a disaster. This ironically gave Mrs. Clinton the chance to reel out all that she had achieved in public service.
Without relenting on his confrontational approach, he attacked the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare, describing it as a disaster. He said he was going to repeal it if elected president. On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton, who acknowledged all that was wrong with Obamacare, like reduction of prescriptive drug, said she was going to fix the problems and make the health insurance programme better.
On the growing Islamophobia in America, Mr. Trump tried without success to dampen his inciting statements of banning Muslims from entering the United States asking Muslims to report to authorities if they suspect one of them was being radicalised. He attacked President Barack Obama and Mrs. Clinton for their refusal to use the term “radical Islamist”.
“Muslims will have to report the problems when they see them. If they don’t do that it is a very difficult situation for our country. To solve the problem, you have to say what the problem is and before you solve it you have to say the name,” he said.
He criticised the Obama administration for its policy on Syria and for the Iran deal, which he described as the “most disastrous deal in history”. He said the Obama administration was arming rebels they do not know and that most of the rebels had turned out to be worse than the terrorists they were initially recruited to fight.
In all, Mr. Trump acted very disruptive during the debate. He interrupted Mrs. Clinton several times and the moderators had to ask him to allow her speak on many occasions.
He was also very evasive in his responses, choosing to attack his rival rather than give answers to questions asked. In more than one instance, the moderators had to remind him to answer the questions asked.
He also could not provide convincing explanation for his not paying federal income taxes, publicly admitting that he exploited his bankruptcy to avoid paying. Strangely, he accused Mrs. Clinton of refusing to change the tax law because it favoured some of her major donors.
He moaned repeatedly about how the moderators did not give him more time to answer question or failed to let him react to comments made by Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Trump also lied about not asking people on Twitter to go watch the sex tape of Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe, who Miss Trump had also referred to as Miss Piggy because she added weight soon after she won the Miss Universe contest.
While Mr. Trump interrupted Mrs. Clinton as much as he could, she did not interrupt him while he spoke for the duration of the debate, except on one occasion when she claimed a comment he had made was false. It seems her strategy was to avoid as much confrontation with Mr. Trump as possible.
However, she did not display the type of confidence we saw during the first debate that saw her dismissing her rival with clever one-liners. She appeared to have been shaken by Mr. Trump’s attack on her husband’s sexual misadventures.
Her responses about the comment she made in her speech to Wall Street executives were unconvincing at best. She also found a convenient escape by blaming Russia for trying to influence the outcome of the election by hacking her campaign emails.
In all, Mr. Trump performed a little better than he did during the first debate but his approach to be nasty as possible brought in less than expected gain. I will still give the debate to Mrs. Clinton for her composure, and better understanding of policy issues but her performance for the night, fell short of her performance during the last debate.