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Clinton and Trump face off in town hall debate

Clinton and Trump face off in town hall debate
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met at Washington University in St. Louis for the second of three presidential debates on Oct. 9. The debate’s style was town hall, meaning that many of the questions would be coming from undecided voters, both in person and online.

Both candidates completely avoided the first question from a teacher, who asked, “Do you feel like you’re showing appropriate behavior for today’s youth?” Instead, they used their two minutes to give opening statements for the debate.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper opened up with a question about the highly controversial Trump tapes released earlier this week.

“It was locker room talk,” Trump said. “I’m not proud of it … I have tremendous respect for women. No one has more respect for women than me.” He also discussed the idea that there are more important issues facing the country.

“With prior Republican nominees, I disagreed with their ideas and policies, but I have never questioned their fitness to be president,” Clinton said. “We have seen (Trump) insult women, rate women and embarrass women … It is not only women and not only this video that raises questions about Trump’s fitness. This is who Donald Trump is. This is not who our country is.”

Trump jumped right into attacking Bill Clinton for his accusations. He mentioned that Bill Clinton was impeached, lost his license to practice law and was fined $850,000. Trump invited Bill Clinton’s accusers to attend the debate.

Clinton complained that Trump has yet to apologize for various moments in his campaign. Trump fired back that Clinton owes this country an apology for her own mistakes.

Trump didn’t hesitate to bring up the topic of Clinton’s primary race against Bernie Sanders, also referencing her email scandals.

“It is awfully good that someone like Trump is not in charge of the law in this country,” Clinton said.

Trump immediately shot back, “Because you’d be in jail.” By this point, the crowd was already actively involved in the debate.

After a number of interruptions from Trump, Cooper tried to move on to the next question.

“The issue isn’t over … it’s 1-on-3 tonight,” Trump said, implying that the moderators were biased.

When asked about the Affordable Care Act, Clinton said she hopes to fix the faults that is has. Trump’s plan is to repeal and replace the current healthcare system.

“Obamacare is a disaster,” Trump said. “You know it. We all know it.”

Clinton admitted that if the country were in a place right now to start all over, a better system would be created. She addressed that 20 million more people now have health insurance, and that the Affordable Care Act has been a great placeholder.

“Let’s fix what’s broken about it, but let’s not throw it away,” Clinton said.

A Muslim woman in the crowd addressed the issue of Islamophobia in the United States.

“Before we can solve a problem, we must be able to say what it is,” Trump said. “That is radical Islamic terrorism.”

Clinton said it is important for Muslims to feel wanted and included in our country.

“We’ve had Muslims in America since George Washington, and we’ve had very many successful Muslims,” Clinton said.

Upon ABC’s Martha Raddatz asking whether Trump still planned on a Muslim-ban on the country, Trump referred to his plan as “extreme vetting” of refugees from high risk areas around the world.

Clinton, who has recently urged to increase the number of admitted refugees from 10,000 to 65,000, claimed she would never allow anyone into the country that would put the country at risk. Clinton expressed that America was founded on religious freedom and that a religious test does not reflect American values.

Addressing a WikiLeaks release of a private Clinton speech excerpt where Clinton stated, “you need both a public and a private stance on some issues,” Raddatz asked Clinton whether or not it was okay for politicians to be two-faced. Clinton took the opportunity to bring up Trump’s praise of Vladimir Putin and unreleased tax returns.

Trump went on to admit that he did take advantage of provisions in the tax code, while also accusing Clinton of failing to change tax plans during her time in the Senate because “all of (her) friends too advantage of the same provisions.”

Clinton used her response to talk about all the action she had accomplished in her 30 years of public service. She highlighted her work as First Lady, as a senator after 9/11 and as Secretary of State.

An online question addressed Aleppo, Syria and compared the situation to the Holocaust, where the U.S. waited too long before acting. Clinton discussed Russia’s involvement with Syria. She stated that we need leverage against Russia in order to bring them to the negotiation table.

Trump asserted that Clinton was all talk against Russia.

“Whenever they arm people, the new people end up being worse than the ones before,” Trump said about the arming of rebel groups in the Middle East.

Martha Raddatz reminded Trump of a comment that his running mate, Mike Pence, made regarding the situation in Syria.

“He and I haven’t spoken, but I disagree,” Trump said.

This was the second time Trump disagreed with a statement from his running mate.

An audience member asked a very open-ended question: “Do you believe you can be a devoted president to all Americans?”

“I would be a president for all of the people … African Americans, inner cities … Latino Americans,” Trump said. He highlighted poverty, education and jobs in inner cities. He, once again, claimed that Clinton is all talk.

Clinton addressed that some of her supporters fear that they might not have a place in Donald Trump’s America. She referenced the “Trump effect,” causing bullying rates to rise in schools.

Anderson Cooper followed up, asking how Clinton could be devoted to all Americans even though she wrote off half of Trump’s supporters as “deplorable.” Clinton said that her issue was with Trump and the campaign he has run, not with his supporters.

Trump suddenly brought up the topic of Benghazi. He addressed that Clinton is not the leader America can count on to “answer the phone at 3:00 a.m.”

An audience member asked a question about the process of selecting Supreme Court justices, since the next president will likely be able to nominate multiple justices.

Clinton’s top priorities would be those who will serve the public, not just the corporate interests. She also took the opportunity to criticize the Senate for not replacing Antonin Scalia in order to allow a full Supreme Court.

Trump answered that he has a list of 20 possibilities that are respected and will protect the Second Amendment. He then switched to comparing his own self-fundraising to Clinton’s “special interest” donors.

The final question asked each candidate to name a positive thing about the other candidate.

“I respect his children,” Clinton said. “His children are talented and devoted, which says a lot about Donald. As a mother and a grandmother, that is important to me.”

Donald Trump responded, “Hillary doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that … She’s a fighter. I disagree with what she is fighting for, but she never gives up.”

The debate was concluded after Trump’s final answer. The third and final debate will take place on Wednesday, October 19 at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

About The Author

Sam Palmisano

Sam Palmisano is a freshman dual-majoring in economics and marketing. Sam loves kayaking and ping pong. Outside of Eagle News, Sam is a member of the Honors program and Student Conduct Committee, and serves as President of the Palmetto Hall Area Council. His goals are to be a political economist and to one day run for Congress. You can find Sam getting into arguments on social media or playing frisbee on the library lawn.

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