Trump responds to questions about his vulgar 2005 remarks
After an extended back and forth about whether they were setting a positive example for children, both candidates responded with vagaries. Hillary Clinton answered with a message that was heavy on positivity and unity, themes she’s been echoing throughout the election. Donald Trump responded that his plan was, simply, to make America great again.
But Anderson Cooper, the CNN moderator, jumped right in, asking Trump about the infamous leaked tape from Friday night: “You bragged that you sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?”
Trump denied he said — or did — anything of the sort. “I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker-room talk. Certainly I’m not proud of it,” he said.
Cooper pressed the case on whether Trump assaulted women in the way he described on the tape: “Have you ever done those things?” he asked.
“No, I have not,” Trump said.
Clinton responded by saying that America knows exactly how Trump treats women. Of the leaked 2005 tape, Clinton said: “He has said that it doesn’t represent who he is. I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.”
Donald Trump loves Twitter
How Clinton and Trump differ on Islamophobia
A questioner asked how each candidate will deal with Islamophobic attitudes once elected.
“One thing we have to do, there is a problem — whether we like it or not, and we can be politically correct, there is a problem,” Trump said to the young woman, who said she was a Muslim. “Muslims have to report the problems when they see them. If they don’t do that, it’s a very difficult situation for our country.”
Trump then launched into a favorite accusation of Republicans that neither Clinton nor President Obama will “say the name” of Islamic terrorism. “It’s radical Islamic terror,” he said. “Before you solve it, you have to say the name.”
When the question was passed to her, Clinton responded by bringing up Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan, a Muslim-American soldier who died serving in Iraq, invoking the contributions and legacies of other Muslim-Americans such as the late Muhammad Ali.
Clinton said Trump’s rhetoric around banning Muslims from entering the United States ultimately hurt the war on terror. “I intend to defeat ISIS, to do so in a coalition with majority-Muslim nations,” she said. The former secretary of state said Trump’s approach was a gift to “violent jihadist terrorists.”
Finally, Clinton turned back to the original questioner: “I want a country where citizens like you, and your family, are just as welcome as anyone else.”
What Clinton said when attacked about the private email scandal
Trump promised he’d appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the 33,000 emails deleted from the home server Clinton used when she was secretary of state. “We are going to get a special prosecutor and we are going to look into it,” he said.
“Everything he said is absolutely false, but I’m not surprised,” Clinton responded. Good thing you’re not in charge of law enforcement, she said.
“You’d be in jail,” Trump quipped.
Moderator Martha Raddatz pushed back on the emails and set Clinton up for a mea culpa. “I will take responsibility for using a personal email account. After a year-long investigation they found no one hacked the server I was using — or that any classified material ended up in the wrong hands,” Clinton said.
“As secretary of state I had some of the most important secrets we possess — so I am very committed to taking classified information seriously.”
Trump responded: “And yet she did not note the letter ‘C’ on a document, he said referring to the “classified” label. “She did not know what that meant.”
I can’t see Russia from my house
The debate turned to the issue of Russian hackers releasing confidential government documents.
Clinton charged that one demonstration of Trump’s cozy relationship with the Kremlin was that hackers were attempting to influence the election by hacking Democratic Party officials and institutions. “And they are not doing it to get me elected,” she added.
“I know nothing about Russia,” Trump said, before clarifying, “I know about Russia, but not about the inner workings. I have no business there and no loans from Russia.”
He said something different earlier this year.
In an interview in May, Trump told Fox News host Bret Baier, “I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event. An incredible success.”
Clinton and Trump talk policy … finally
Thirty minutes into the debate, the candidates had their first substantive exchange on public policy in response to a question on the future of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).
Trump slammed the entire law as a “fraud” and a “disaster.” He proposed scrapping it and opening up health insurance competition across state boundaries. More competition, Trump claimed, despite skepticism from experts, would bring the price down of insurance plans and create “plans that are so good.” (No specifics were offered.)
Clinton argued that instead of “starting over,” she would “fix” the problems with Obamacare. To do otherwise, she said, would be to allow the insurance companies to retake control over health care in America. As a result, she said, companies would be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and put people into millions of dollars of health care debt.
She said that Obamacare had allowed millions of American to purchase health insurance for the first time and that the law was a positive first step that should be improved upon. Obamacare premiums are expected to rise significantly on Nov. 1, one week before Election Day, as many insurers have pulled out of the insurance exchanges.
Trump brings Bill Clinton’s accusers into the debate
And we’re off: Trump hosted a surprise press conference with four of Bill Clinton’s accusers before the debate.
Trump made it clear that he planned on making a central theme of the debate the decades-old allegations that Hillary Clinton intimidated women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault.
Less than two hours before the start of the debate, Trump hosted a surprise press conference with four of the women who have leveled accusations against one or both of the Clintons. Seated next to him were Paula Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey, who have also become something close to surrogates for Trump in recent months.
“I’m here to support Donald Trump because he’s going to make America great again,” declared Jones.
Minutes after the press conference ended, Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson released a statement:
“We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom. Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that. If Donald Trump doesn’t see that, that’s his loss. As always, she’s prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”
All four women were seated in the debate audience.
Background on a big, big debate
Welcome to the second presidential debate of the 2016 cycle — this one’s a doozy. Donald Trump, virtually abandoned by the mainstream of his party after a hot mic moment where he boasted about sexually harassing and assaulting women, has the most to do here and the least to lose. Hillary Clinton is nursing a 7-point lead in national polls according to FiveThirtyEight. She may be confronted with allegations that Bill Clinton assaulted women, the kind of attack Trump has been promising since virtually the start of the campaign.
The town hall format can be particularly revealing. It’s less formal, there are no podiums to hide behind, more interaction between the candidates, and the potential for the kind of awkward, unscripted moments — George H.W. Bush’s watch check or Al Gore’s sighs, for example — that are remembered more than any debate on policy. Follow along with the VICE news political team here for the next 90 minutes.