Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Sunday night squared off for their second presidential debate, at the Washington University in St. Louis.
The debate was moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz. The questions came from members of the audience in a “town hall” format, with the two moderators asking follow-up questions.
The first question to the candidates was whether they believe they are modeling appropriate behavior for today’s youth?
Clinton, who won the coin toss and answered first, replied, “It is very important for us to make clear to our children that our country really is great because we’re good. We are really going to respect one another, lift each other up... celebrate our diversity...”
“I have a very positive and optimistic view about what we can do. That’s why the slogan of my campaign is ‘stronger together,’” she added.
Trump said he actually agreed with Clinton and then went on to promise to bring back law and order, take care of people of all sides, and “do things that haven’t been done, including making our inner cities better for African Americans” and others.
“It’s called ‘Make America Great Again’,” he said, repeating his campaign slogan.
The next set of questions was, naturally, about Trump's leaked comments from 2005 on women, and the fallout from it.
“This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family, I apologized to the American people. I’m not proud of it…but in this world where you have ISIS chopping people’s heads, carnage all over the world…I’m very embarrassed by it, I hate it but it’s locker room talk,” said Trump, who then added he would “take care of ISIS” if elected.
“We should move on to more important things and much bigger things,” he continued. “No one has more respect for women than I do. I’m embarrassed by [what I said], but I have great respect for women and women have respect for me.”
Clinton said that Trump said the video doesn’t represent who is, but “I think the video represents exactly who he is.”
She blasted Trump for insulting and embarrassing women throughout his campaign, and then charged, “So yes, this is who Donald Trump is. But it’s not only women, because he has also targeted immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities and Muslims.”
The U.S. must answer that “this is not who we are,” said Clinton.
Trump replied by saying that with Clinton “it’s just words. I’ve been hearing them for many years. I heard them when Hillary was running for the Senate in New York, when she promised to bring jobs to New York and failed. I’m going to help the African Americans, I’m going to help the Latinos. Hillary has done nothing.”
He noted that while the words he regrets were just words, former President Bill Clinton during his presidential term had actually done things that were “far worse” in his behavior towards women than any of the remarks Trump had made years ago. He castigated Hillary for defending her husband's behavior at the time and cruelly mocking those women.
“Bill Clinton was abusive to women. He was impeached for it. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously,” he charged, noting that he brought to the debate four women whom Bill Clinton had abused.
As Clinton called on Trump to apologize for the video, Trump followed up by calling on her to apologize to President Barack Obama for starting the birther controversy.
He then also said Clinton should apologize for using a private email server while she served as Secretary of State.
“If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. The people of this country are furious. There has never been anything like this when you get a subpoena and after you get the subpoena you delete 30,000 emails and whitewash it,” said Trump. He scoffed at her saying that the thousands of emails were private, but asked her how she could have missed or ignored the over 600 calls for help from the Benghazi compound when the US embassy was attacked.
Raddatz followed up on the email issue and asked Clinton whether she doesn’t believe that using a private address and deleting classified emails was careless.
“That was a mistake, and I take responsibility for using a personal email account. I’m very sorry about that, but I think it’s also important to point out that there are misleading accusations,” she said, adding that there was no evidence that anyone hacked her emails or that any classified materials ended up in the wrong hands.
The two were asked about affordable health care which has actually resulted in drug prices going up and coverage going down.
Clinton said she agreed and noted she has presented a series of actions to solve the problems, but will stick to Obamacare.
Trump said that “Obamacare is a disaster. No one’s ever seen numbers like this for healthcare. Their method of fixing it is asking Congress for more money. Obamacare will never work. It’s far too expensive, not just for the person who has it but also unbelievably expensive for our country. We have to repeal it and replace it with something less expensive that actually works.” He said he would have insurance companies competing over state lines, leading to their lowering the cost of health care.
A Muslim woman in the audience asked the candidates how they would battle Islamophobia.
Trump acknowledged that there is a problem and added, “When Muslims see that there is hatred they must report it. Many people saw the bombs in the home of the San Bernardino terrorists. When Muslims see the problem they must report it.”
Obama and Clinton “won’t even mention the term radical Islamic terrorism, but the name is there and before you solve it you have to say the name,” he added.
Clinton replied and said, “Unfortunately there’s been a lot of very divisive, dark things said about Muslims. We’ve had Muslims in America since George Washington, and we’ve had many successful Muslims. My vision of America is an America where everyone has a place.”
Trump was asked about his comments from December calling to temporarily ban Muslim entry and how his running mate, Mike Pence, recently said that was no longer the case.
“It’s called ‘extreme vetting’,” he explained. “People are coming into our country and we have no idea who they are and where they’re from. I believe in building safe zones, I believe in having other people pay for them…but I don’t want to have, with all the problems this country has, hundreds of thousands of people coming from Syria that we know nothing about.” He blasted Clinton for wanting to raise that amount by tens of thousands of unvetted people about whose attitudes to the founding principles of the United States we know nothing.
The issue of Trump’s alleged evasion of taxes also came up, and the Republican nominee stressed that he pays millions in income taxes “as do most of [Clinton’s] donors.”
“I understand the tax code better than anyone who’s ever run for president,” he added. “I pay tremendous numbers of taxes and so did Warren Buffet and so did George Soros and so did many other people that Hillary is getting money from.”
“I pay tax and I pay federal tax too. But I have a write off, a lot of it is depreciation,” explained Trump, "as they do."
The two were asked what they would do about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo.
“The situation in Syria is catastrophic,” said Clinton, adding that Russian forces are helping Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the rebels who are fighting his regime.
“I advocate a no fly zone and safe zones. The Russians will not come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution,” she said, adding that the U.S. needs to stand up against Russia in this crisis, while vowing to investigate war crimes in Syria by both the regime as well as Russia.
Trump said that Clinton “talks tough against Putin and against Assad, but every time we take rebels – whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else – and we arm people, they end up being worse. The fact is that almost everything she’s done on foreign policy has been a mistake and has been a disaster.”
“She wants to fight rebels but you don’t even know who the rebels are. I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS and Iran is killing ISIS,” he added.
Clinton said she would specifically target ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and would also consider arming the Kurds, who “have been our best allies in Syria and Iraq”.’ Trump did not get a chance to address the idea of arming Kurds.
Trump vowed to “be a president for all the people”, including African Americans and Latinos.
Clinton, he accused had had a chance to make a difference, but “has been talking about the inner cities for 25 years. Nothing’s going to happen. She’s all talk, and it doesn’t get done.”
Clinton was asked about her recent comments calling Trump supporters “deplorables”, and replied, “My argument is not with his supporters but with him. What he has said about African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, POWs, about people with disabilities – he’s never apologized for. I’m proud of the campaign that Bernie Sanders and I ran. We focused on issues, not insults.”
Trump replied by saying, “We have a divided nation, and when [Clinton] said deplorables, she meant it. She has tremendous hatred. This country cannot take another four years of Barack Obama, and that’s what you’re getting with her.”
Finally, one of the members of the audience asked the two candidates to name one thing they respect about the other.
Clinton replied, “I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald.”
Trump said Clinton’s statement about his children was “a very nice compliment”, then added, “I will say this about Hillary: She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that.”