Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump returned to the debate stage on Sunday night, following a tumultuous few days for the Trump campaign that began with a 2005 leaked tape of the Republican candidate boasting about sexually assaulting women. Moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, the debate was heated throughout and even began with no customary handshake between the pair.
The debate took a ‘Town Hall’ format, with the candidates perched on stools, using handheld microphones and answering questions from the audience: a test of both’s ability to communicate naturally with the public.
The first question addressed Trump’s recent misogyny scandal, but he deflected with references to Bill Clinton’s history with women (“There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women”). Hillary refused to respond, quoting Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high”.
Trump gained momentum during the debate as he threw numerous scandals at Clinton: her missing emails, the Benghazi attacks and her support of the Iraq war. In one of the night’s most dramatic moments, he stated that “If he were President… [Clinton] would be in jail”.
On the subject of taking action in Syria and cooperation with Russia, Trump surprisingly dismissed the contradiction of position from his running mate Mike Pence, claiming that they “haven’t spoken and disagree”.
The final question posed to both candidates asked what traits they admire in one another. Clinton praised Trump’s children, while Trump declared his admiration for Clinton’s persistence and fighting spirit.
The third and final debate takes place on October 19, before the election itself on November 8.