US presidential debate

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the second TV debate of the campaign

Hugh Linehan Mon, Oct 10
LIVE: US presidential debate

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  • 23:48
    Good evening and welcome to this Irish Times liveblog of the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election campaign. I'm Hugh Linehan and I'll be here to cover the run-up to the debate, the event itself (which starts at 2am Irish time) and the aftermath/reaction. If you'd like to contact me you can mail me at or find me on Twitter at @hlinehan.
  • 23:54
    With less than a month to go to the election, Clinton and Trump will debate tonight in a town hall format. The debate will last 90 minutes with no commercial breaks. Following the publication by the Washington Post on Friday of a video in which Trump makes predatory comments about sexually assaulting women, this debate is likely to be particularly heated and unpredictable.
    Unlike the other debates, the topics for this one are not disclosed in advance. Trump has already hinted at his intention of bringing up Bill Clinton’s history of infidelity.
  • 00:08
    The town hall format means some of the questions tonight in St Louis, Missouri, will be posed by members of the audience.
    And while the first debate had only one moderator, tonight’s has two: CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz of ABC.
  • 00:17
    You can watch the debate on Sky News, BBC New, CNN s and Channel 4. It's also available on multiple YouTube livestreams, from the websites of US broadcasters and via Twitter.
  • 00:21
    Here's some further information from Vox on tonight's format:

    Unlike the other debates, the audience isn’t picked at random in the town hall. It’s made up of 40 citizens selected by Gallup, a firm specialized in opinion polls, amongst a group of undecided voters. It’s hard to tell exactly how many voters have yet to choose their candidate, but it’s likely somewhere around 4%.
    Who gets to ask questions?

    Unlike the previous debate, where the two candidates were asked questions by the moderator and the audience was (supposedly) silent, this format involves the audience. The moderators—in this case Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz—will ask questions for the first half of the debate, then the audience will have time for about eight questions.
    Who choses the questions from the audience?

    The moderators have control over who asks the questions and what questions are asked. It’s not clear how the selection process works, though it’s likely that questions are screened before the start of the debate. A leaked 2004 memorandum (pdf) of understanding from the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), the organization that sets the rules and sponsors the debate, shows that very little direction is given about the selection process.
    How long does each candidate speak for?

    Each candidate will have two minutes to answer the questions. The host can use any remaining time to ask further questions about the topic.
    Will the candidates ask each other direct questions?

    They are not supposed to, although in the previous debate Trump interrupted Clinton so many times (51, to be specific) so it’s likely that there will be some back and forth between the candidates.
  • 00:31
    "Never in the modern era has any candidate entered a consequential debate in such a degraded position: Trump isn’t merely facing an uphill climb (as John McCain did in 2008) or the widespread perception he’s not up to the job (Gerald Ford in 1976) or even that he was too unlikeable to get elected (Richard Nixon in 1960). No, he’s having to grapple with all of these problems at once while cloaked in disgrace and coping with an unprecedented defection of more than two dozen Republican former supporters who feel that endorsing him has become a moral transgression."

    From Politico's Five Things to Watch Out For in Tonight's Debate. Read the full article here.


  • 00:38
    BREAKING: Trump is currently streaming live on Facebook with a number of women who claim to have been sexually assaulted by Bill Clintion and bullied by Hillary Clinton.
  • 00:39

  • 00:44
    Here's the link to that appearance by Donald Trump with the four women alleging abuse by Bill Clinton.
  • 00:47

  • 00:50
    Trump Camp sources have told ABC that Bill Clinton accusers Juantia Broaddrick, Paula Jones & Kathleen Willey will be in the debate audience tonight
  • 00:57
    So, just when you thought this election couldn't get any more bizarre, sleazy and weird, you've been proved wrong again. Trump has thrown another hand grenade into the process, but it looks like a last desperate act of a dying campaign - the worst campaign by a leading party candidate in modern US history.
  • 01:04

  • 01:23

    The Clinton campaign responds: "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.”

  • 01:28

  • 01:36

    This may give some indication of how Clinton is going to approach the debate:


  • 01:41
    Janet Brown of the Commission on Presidential Debates is speaking now from the stage.
  • 01:46

  • 01:52
    The Republican Party is ripping itself apart. This from today's New York Times:

    "The Republican Party was at the brink of civil war on Sunday as Donald J. Trump signaled he would retaliate against lawmakers who withdraw their support from his campaign, and senior party leaders privately acknowledged that they now feared losing control of both houses of Congress.
    Even before Mr. Trump’s second debate against Hillary Clinton, the party faced an internal rift unseen in modern times. A wave of defections from Mr. Trump’s candidacy, prompted by the revelation of a recording that showed him bragging about sexual assault, was met with boastful defiance by the Republican presidential nominee.

    On Twitter, Mr. Trump attacked the Republicans fleeing his campaign as “self-righteous hypocrites” and predicted their defeat at the ballot box. In a set of talking points sent to his supporters Sunday morning, Mr. Trump’s campaign urged them to attack turncoat Republicans as “more concerned with their political future than they are about the country.”"

    Full article here.
  • 01:53

  • 01:59
    Cameras are focusing on the four women in the audience who accuse Bill Clinton of sexual assault.
  • 02:01

  • 02:04
    Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper are doing their introduction. The candidates are coming on to the stage.
  • 02:05
    No handshake tonight.
  • 02:06
    First question to Clinton: do you feel you're modelling appropriate behaviour for today's youth?
  • 02:07
    Clinton: I havea positive and optimistic view, if we can overcome divisiveness (seems to be deliberately avoiding the implicit critique of all the X-rated content),
  • 02:08
    Trump: I agree with everything she said.
  • 02:10
    If this is the question about the tapes and the last few days, then both candidatetos are completely refusing to engage. But here's the direct question from Cooper about sexual assault.
  • 02:11
    Trump: "This was locker room talk. When you have so many bad things happening.. I'm very embarrassed... I'll knock the hell out of Isis."
  • 02:14
    Not what you'd call a contrite apology. Clinton: "I diasagreed with prior Republicans but never questioned their fitness to serve. Donald Trump is not fit to be commander in chief. It's clear to anyone who heard it that (the tape) reflects exactly who he is."
  • 02:15
    Clinton: It's not only women or this video which raises his fitness to be president. He has targeted so many others.  
  • 02:17
    Trump says it's just words. Focuses on the 30-year career of Clinton which we know his camp thinks is a strong attack point. But the moderators are sticking to the tape.
  • 02:18
    Trump: If you look at Bill Clinton, there's never been anyone in the history of npolitics who's been such an abuser of women.
  • 02:19
    Trump mentions the women in the audience and attacks Bill and Hillary's Clinton's actions as "disgraceful"" and says she should be "ashamed".
  • 02:21
    Clinton uses the "When they go low, you go high" line from Michelle Obama which her account tweeted just before the debate. Goes hard after his actions, including birtherism.
  • 02:23
    Trump says Clinton owes Obama an apology for starting birtherism.  
  • 02:23
    Trump: "I'm going to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation."
  • 02:25
    Clinton: "It's just terribly good that somebody with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of this country". Trump: "Because you'd be in jail".
  • 02:27

  • 02:30
    Trump says it's "One on three", as moderators insist on moving on to an Obamacare question.
  • 02:32

  • 02:34

  • 02:35
    Trump says Canadians are flooding across the border to access healthcare. Sounds like another wall might be rquired...
  • 02:38
    A from a Muslim woman to Trump on Islamophobia. Trump: Muslims have to report the problems if they see them.  
  • 02:40
    Clinton: There's been a lot of divisive comment about Muslims, including the Khan family.
  • 02:41
    Clinton: "We are not at war with Islam".
  • 02:43
    Trump questioned on the Muslim ban he called for several years ago. Says Muslim ban "morphed into extreme vetting".
  • 02:45

  • 02:51
    The Wikileaks dump of hacked Democratic emails now being discussed. Hillary on the Russians: "Believe me, they're not doing it to get me elected."
  • 02:52

  • 02:53
    "Many of the people giving her massive money took massive deductions. I've paid hundreds of millions of dollars."
  • 02:56
    I have no idea what Trump said his tax policy was. Clinton says "Donald always takes care of Donald."
  • 02:59

    This seems to be a growing view, judging by the Twitter feed.


  • 03:03

  • 03:05
    Question on Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. Clinton calls for no-fly zone, focuses on the aggression of Russia, ties Putin again to Trump.
  • 03:07
    Trump: Obama drew the line in the sand, and was laughed at all over the world. She talks tough against Putin and Assad. She doesn't know who the rebels are.
  • 03:10
    Pressed on Mike Pence's comments on Syria, Trump says he disagrees with his running mate. Says Aleppo has "basically fallen".
  • 03:12

  • 03:14
    Clinton says she hopes Isis will be out of Iraq by the time she becomes President. Suggests arming the Kurds.
  • 03:15
    Trump: "She calls a lot of our people deplorable. I will be a president for all the people."
  • 03:16

  • 03:21

    Anderson Cooper follows up on the "basket of deplorables". Clinton: I said within hours I was sorry about that. My problem was with him."

    Trump: "We have a divided nation. She has tremendous hate in her heart."

  • 03:22
    Cooper follows up about Trump's late-night tweets attacking a former Miss Universe. Trump pivots to Benghazi, then says tweeting is "a very effective modern form of communication."
  • 03:25
    If the debate is on schedule, this could be the last question - what would inform your Supreme Court appointments.
  • 03:27
    Clinton talks about reducing the power of corporate political donations, strengthen voting rights, defend marriage equality and the Roe v Wade decision on abortion rights. Says she wants to change the balance and regrets the Senate has blocked president Obama's attempt to fill the current vacancy.
  • 03:29
    Trump: I am looking to appoint judges in the mould of justice Scalia (the conservative judge who died recently). His nominees will defend gun owners' rights. Asks why Clinton why she won't use her own money to fund her campaign. "You've made a lot of it because you were in office."
  • 03:30
    One more question - energy policy. Trump: "Energy is under siege from the Obama administration. I'm all for alternative sources of energy, but there is a thing called clean coal. I will bring our energy companies back."
  • 03:33
    Clinton: "We are for the first time energy independent. Natural gas serves as a bridge to renewables."
  • 03:36
    The very very last question. Would either of you metion one positive thing you respect in the other. Clinton: "I respect his children. That's something that as a mother and grandmother is important to me. This election has become so conflicted and intense because it's one of the most consequential elections."
  • 03:37
    Trump: "I will say this about Hillary. She doesn't quit. She's a fighter. I consider that to be a good trait."
  • 03:37
    And that's it. The candidates do shake hands, after failing to do so at the start.
  • 03:40
    When things settled down after the very fraught start, Trump supporters will probably feel their man performed a lot better than in the first debate. Clinton appeared to be taking a conservative strategy, choosing not to go too aggressively after Trump in order to avoid being dragged into a mudlsinging fight.
  • 03:42

  • 03:44
    Commentators already reflecting on Trump having "thrown Mike Pence under the bus". There had been suggestions in the last 24 hours that Pence might step down from the Republican ticket, but these have been strongly denied.
  • 03:46
    It should also be pointed out that this was the nastiest, most vitriolic and and personalised debate in US presidential history. Something truly terrible has happened to American politics.
  • 03:48

    That's the end of the Pence story.


  • 03:50

  • 03:53

  • 03:59

    Also worth noting that, in an unprecedented moment, Donald Trump threatened that if he became preseident, he would appoint a special prosecutor in order to jail Hillary Clinton.

  • 04:10
    If I may borrow a phrase, a lot of people are saying that Trump defending the Access Hollywood tape comments as "not as bad as Isis" is a remarkable line of defence.
  • 04:16

    It's going to be interesting to see what key memes and clips arise from this debate. This will probably be one:


  • 04:19

    Trump complained throughout the debate that he wasn't being treated fairly by the moderators. Here's the actual stat:


  • 04:25

    Here's Trump denying he tweeted about a sex tape. He did.

  • 04:33

  • 04:36

  • 04:39
    CNN reporting on reaction from its focus group of uncommitted voters. They don't like Trump's explanation of his "lockerroom talk".
  • 04:40
    Hillary Clinton is being interviewed on her plane. "Nothing surprises me about him. But I was surprised by his avalanche of falshehoods."
  • 04:41
    CNN's instant poll of debate-watchers is in. 57 per cent say Clinton won. 34 per cent said Trump won. 63 per cent of debate watchers said Trump did better than expected. 39 per cent said Clinton did better than expected. CNN cautions that the poll skews Democrat.
  • 04:43
    Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager of the Trump campaign, tells CNN Trump clearly won the debate.  
  • 04:44

  • 04:56

  • 05:05

    Our man in the US, Simon Carswell, has this to say:

    The debate was defined by insults and interruptions by Mr Trump in a more engaged and effective debate for the Republican as he stuck to his campaign messages and jabbed at his Democratic rival again and again.

    His performance is likely to please his supporters, but it is unclear whether it will broaden his base and reverse Mrs Clinton’s resurgence in the polls. She was reserved in her counter-attacks against the heavy blows thrown by the Republican.

    Read Simon's full report here.

  • 05:15
    A YouGov poll of 812 registered voters who watched the debate isn't as favourable as CNN for for Clinton, but still has her ahead. 47 percent thought Clinton won the debate, and 42 percent thought Trump won, according to the poll. Among undecided voters polled, 44 percent thought Clinton won and 41 percent gave the night to Trump
  • 05:21
    Talking Points Memo reports the top spokesman for the Republican National Committee has said that the RNC did not know that Donald Trump was going to hold a pre-debate press event with three of former President Bill Clinton's accusers. Full report here.
  • 05:22

  • 05:42

    A quick summary of events so far. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clashed repeatedly in the most divisive and bitter televised presidential election debate in US history. The tension was exacerbated an hour before the debate began when Trump held a photo-oppurtunity with a number of women who have accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual crimes. The women were seated in the audience at the debate in St Louis, Missouri, which continued for 90 minutes with highly personal attacks by each candidate on their opponent’s character.
    “I never questioned their fitness to serve,” Clinton said of past Republican nominees. “Donald Trump is different.”

    Trump acknowledged he wasn’t proud of his comments about assaulting women which were revealed in an 11-year-old videotape released on Friday, but he accused Clinton’s husband of far worse “actions,” pointing to the four women whom he had invited into the audience.

    Clinton said Trump owed the American people an apology — not just for the tape but his past attacks on President Barack Obama’s birthplace and many others.
    “He owes the president an apology and our country an apology and he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his words,” she said.

    Trump attacked Clinton for the controversy over her private email server and saying that, as president, he would appoint a special prosecutor and said “you would go to jail.”

    Snap opinion polls taken immediately after the debate showed Clinton was seen as the winner, but that viewers also believed Trump had performed better than expected, and better than his performance in the first debate.

  • 05:57