Friday 20 January 2017

US Presidential debate: Clinton wins second head-to-head against Trump

Published 10/10/2016 | 06:45

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shake hands at the first US presidential debate in New York. Photo: David Goldman/AP
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shake hands at the first US presidential debate in New York. Photo: David Goldman/AP

Hillary Clinton has won the second presidential debate according to voters, the first opinion poll has found.

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The CNN poll found 57 per cent of people feel Ms Clinton won the debate, compared to 34 per cent of voters who felt Donald Trump performed best.

A further poll by YouGov found 47 per cent of people polled favoured Ms Clinton while 42 per cent backed Mr Trump.

Among people who had previously been undecided about who they would be casting their vote for, Clinton also won narrowly by 44 per cent to 41 per cent.

The debate on Sunday night may go down as the most toxic and ill-tempered presidential debate in history.

A defiant Donald Trump sought to deflect criticism of the now notorious sex tape, threatened to send Hillary Clinton to jail he if was elected and told millions of viewers that his rival had “tremendous hate in her heart”. He also directly raised the sexual history of Bill Clinton and said Ms Clinton had attacked those women who had accused her husband of sexual assault.

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands at the conclusion. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands at the conclusion. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

For her part, Ms Clinton said the tape published last week in which the New York tycoon was seen boasting of assaulting women, was proof of the way he viewed women. “He has said the video doesn’t represent who he is but I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is,” she said.

The tense second encounter between the White House rivals came as Mr Trump had spent the previous 48 hours trying to divert attention from the fall-out caused by the emergence of video footage in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women. He said he was able to get away with such actions because of his celebrity.

With senior Republican leaders lining up to denounce him, and with some calling on him to stand down as the party’s nominee, Mr Trump was determined to change the narrative. Indeed, two hours before the debate got underway in St Louis, he held a press conference with three women who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton.

In such circumstances, it was perhaps not surprising that the candidates did not shake hands when they took to the stage. And within minutes, Mr Trump was asked about the tape.

“It was locker room banter. I’m not proud of it,” said Mr Trump, then saying that there were more serious issues confronting the country, including “Isis beheading” people.

“You hear these things I’ve said and I was embarrassed by it,” Mr Trump added. “But I have tremendous respect for women. They have tremendous respect for me.”

Mr Trump tried to turn the discussion to Mr Clinton’s history with women. “If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse,” Mr Trump said.

Ms Clinton was asked about her use of a private email server, and her deleting of more than 30,000 emails. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” he said.

Ms Clinton said that the FBI had fully investigated the issue of her emails and decided not to bring any criminal charges. She said she took the issue of classified material very seriously. She said: “You know it’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in this country.”

Mr Trump quickly shot back: “Because you’d be in jail….You said it was fine to delete 33,000 emails. I don't think so.”

A flood of Republicans have withdrawn their support for Mr Trump over the video, which was filmed in 2005 when recording scenes for Access Hollywood. The controversy has pitched Mr Trump into the biggest crisis of his 16-month-old campaign and deepened fissures between him and establishment Republicans.

Yet most political pundits his performance on Sunday night was probably sufficient to at least staunch the bleeding being endured by his campaign. It was not remarkable, but Mr Trump had lowered expectations so much, that by remaining focused on attacking Ms Clinton on several key issues, he will likely have rallied his base and changed the headlines.

The final question faced by the Ms Clinton (68) and Mr Trump (70) related to what they respected about the other.

Ms Clinton said she respected Mr Trump’s children, a comment her rival called “a very nice compliment”. He in turn said she was a “fighter”. He said: “She does fight hard and doesn’t give up and I consider that a very good trait.”

With the debate then concluded, the pair finally shook hands

Independent News Service

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