Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off Sunday night in the second of three presidential debates before Election Day on November 8.
The debate was a town-hall-style affair. Half of the questions were posed by preselected, uncommitted voters, with the other half asked by the debate’s moderators, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and ABC’s chief global affairs correspondent, Martha Raddatz. Clinton and Trump each had two minutes to respond, but both frequently went over their time.
The first presidential debate, on September 26, drew a record 84 million viewers across multiple networks, including NBC, CNN, and Fox. This debate may break that record, given the uproar over Trump’s lewd comments about women in 2005 made public Friday and the leaking of emails appearing to show partial transcripts of Clinton’s paid speeches on Wall Street.
Trump released a video late Friday night apologizing for the comments, which led dozens of Republicans to withdraw their support for him over the weekend. Trump implied in the tape that he would “discuss” Bill Clinton’s sex scandals and Hillary Clinton’s role in discrediting the women involved.
He brought up the issue only once during the debate, but held a shocking press conference with four of Bill Clinton’s accusers – Kathleen Willy, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathy Shelton, and Paula Jones – about an hour before the showdown in an attempt to rattle his opponent.
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Anderson Cooper asked Trump about his 2005 comments immediately: “You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
Trump insisted that he respects women, and said “I’m not proud” of the tape. “That was locker room talk. I’ve apologized to my family, I’ve apologized to the American people.”
The issue of Clinton’s paid speeches was largely glossed over. The candidates did not shake hands at the beginning of the debate, and Trump frequently hovered behind Clinton as she spoke and interrupted her, saying at one point that if he were president she “would be in jail’ over her email scandal.
Clinton denied any wrongdoing with regard to her private email server and said she takes classified information “very seriously.” She repeatedly implored viewers to fact-check Trump’s claims, and reiterated that he is “not fit” to be president.
At one point, Trump said that he “does not agree” with his running mate, Mike Pence, on how to defeat ISIS.
The debate ended on a somewhat positive note, however. An audience member asked the candidates to name one thing that they respect about each other.
Clinton responded that she respects Trump’s children. “His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald.”
Trump replied that he respects Clinton’s “fighter” spirit.
“She doesn’t quit, she doesn’t give up, she’s a fighter. I disagree with what she’s fighting for, but I consider that to be a very good trait,” he said.
Trump spoke for 40 minutes 10 seconds, while Clinton spoke for 39 minutes 5 seconds, CNN reported.