With the United States presidential election due to take place on Tuesday 8th November 2016, the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump commenced on Sunday 9th October in Washington University, St. Louis. Debate moderators, Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz were present to neutrally guide the participants.
The opening question from the audience was regarding the children in America who had to watch the debate for education or general purposes, which was described by The Guardian as “wildly out of control”, the general questioned whether the debate was age-appropriate.
Clinton responded to the question, stating she wanted: “to be the president for all Americans, regardless of your political beliefs, where you come from, what you look like, your religion.”
Clinton continued to embrace the maternal role as she brought importance on “the future that our children and our grandchildren deserve.”
When presented with the two-minutes to answer, Trump began by agreeing with Clinton’s opening statement, however, he chose not to engage with the question, by differing from the topic of the younger generation and focusing on mentioning healthcare, terrorism, business and trade, stating that his ideology was “to make America great again.”
The debate starts off on a good foot, however Trump is soon to get hit after Cooper and Raddatz question him on the videotape from 2005 that emerged on Friday. Cooper inquires into Trump’s comments about “kissing women without consent [and] grabbing their genitals”, Trump defensively passes this off as “locker room talk”, which he describes as merely “one of those things”. Trump denies the accusations, despite it being alleged by multiple women, by claims that “nobody has more respect for women than me.” Trump is quick in his attempt to diffuse the topic and repetitively reminds the general public of ISIS and his plans to defeat and “knock the hell out” of them.
Hillary is quick to advocate her side representing all women and brings forward the other minorities that Trump consistently targets. However, Trump fires back in response, by bringing to light the allegations that Clinton was seen laughing and rape-shaming Kathy Shelton, a 12-year old girl at the time, on whose trial Clinton was positioned as a public defender. There is no evidence to support these claims; Clinton shuts down these accusations by labelling them as “false.”
As tension rises, Trump draws comparisons between himself and Bill Clinton and exclaims that if he was in charge, she would be “in jail”, suggesting to Hillary that she should chose her words more wisely, to which Clinton paraphrasing First Lady, Michelle Obama’s: “when they go low, you go high.”
Trump causes further animosity as he directly links all terrorism to “radical Islamic terrorists” and disclaims that he is not bothered by the term, despite its distortion of the peaceful religion. Clinton, however, seizes this opportunity to pay tribute to “a particularly well-known one”, as she refers to Muhammad Ali’s contribution to America.
As the debate progresses, Raddatz recalls Trumps statement in December of “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and the shame that Trump put an American soldier’s family through for being Muslim. However, Trump contradicts himself by calling Captain Khan an “American Hero” and partially blames Clinton for being pro-Iraq, claiming that Khan would still be alive if it were not for the war.
Despite the tense question, the debate is closed with a light-hearted question asking both candidates to list “one positive thing that you respect in one other”, as the crowd applaud. Clinton goes first as she exclaims that despite disagreeing with “nearly everything he says or does”, she respects his children and gives Trump credit. Trump accepts the compliment, praising Clinton for her perseverance as someone who “doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up” and labels her “a fighter.”
After the Speaker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan publicly expressed his disagreement with the views of Donald Trump, expressing that he will no longer support and campaign for him, but instead will focus on keeping the GOP majority in the house.
Students at The University of Portsmouth who watched the debate, circulating videos, and the recent statement by Ryan, felt opinionated on some of the questions, especially those surrounding Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban and both Trump and Clinton’s view of women and their rights.
“When he denied the proof of his opinions on women, he showed his incessant repulsive character, which has in part, played to the lowest denominator of society who perpetuate his vile opinion”
Freddie Vant Fielder, American Literature Student
Freddie Vant Fielder, 22, studies American Literature expressed that: “When he denied the proof of his opinions on women, he showed his incessant repulsive character, which has in part, played to the lowest denominator of society who perpetuate his vile opinion. This lends thought to the GOP voter base and the party itself in its support of such a character who holds values opposite to that of the “American Dream” and the American people themselves. The fact a party can support, after numerous occasions of derogatory and insulting rhetoric, which has been spoken by Trump through his campaign, begs the question of how can the GOP be supporting a man like this?”
Nawaal Rehman, 21, studies Political and international relations feels strongly about the ban on Muslims, as she believes Trumps reasoning is: “very flawed. He’s very nationalistic and believes everyone in America should share his views but disregards refugees trying to flee from areas destroyed by ISIS to seek stability. He has put Muslims in a group and labelled us as murderers.”
Shivani Somaiya, 21, Pharmaceutical Science student believes that: “Trump does not have a fully formed opinion and is not coherent. He has no experience dealing with international affairs and has never held political office – it’s like placing a child inside The White House and expecting results.”
Most students had formed a strong opinion of Trump and felt as though American’s did not need to be concerned if Clinton rose to power. As Clinton said: “This is not an ordinary time and this is not an ordinary election.” The competition is getting tense as Tuesday 8th November, General Election Day, is approaching.