Our team of writers give their verdicts on whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump triumphed in the second presidential TV debate. You can have your say below.
Mr Trump had to steamroller Mrs Clinton to undo the damage of Friday’s lewd video. He didn’t do that last night, not even close – but he was surprisingly effective. Many thought the Republican would implode – and there were moments where he threatened to. He wobbled in the first 20 minutes that were dominated by the lewd video tape, but managed to find some discipline. The preparation he has been doing clearly showed. Mrs Clinton, on the other hand, had a fairly flat night – but it’s still, overwhelmingly, hers to lose.
It wasn’t a blow out for Donald Trump like the last debate, but Hillary Clinton still won this. Mr Trump’s answers on policy were weak, and sometimes rambling. He managed to land a few punches but they were few and far between. He missed his chance at the beginning to capitalise on placing Juanita Broaddrick and other women from Bill Clinton’s past in the audience, changing the conversation from that to Mrs Clinton’s emails. His biggest flaw however was in body language. Whilst Mrs Clinton thought through every expression and move, he looked lost and, as my colleague Harriet Alexander noted, spent a lot of time lurking. He needed a strong performance to save his ailing campaign. It’s not clear that tonight he achieved that.
It was a nasty, mud slinging, bad tempered debate – as predicted. But in the end Hillary Clinton’s experience, poise and preparation made her the winner. She fully expected every one of the rocks Mr Trump lobbed at her, and had ready answers. At times her response – “that’s a lie; check my website” – came across as glib. But on balance she was wise not to spend the night fact checking every one of his outlandish statements. On her emails, she repeated the steady apology and denial of negligence; on foreign policy, she showed off her years of experience with detailed, succinct plans for Syria. And she excoriated him for his words about women, Muslims, immigrants, disabled people, POWs and Latinos. “That’s why my campaign slogan is Stronger Together,” she said.
Hillary Clinton will never step into a more dangerous bearpit than she did last night. Donald Trump was wounded and ready to lash out with everything he had. Sitting in the front row were three women who have accused her husband of sex offences. Despite all that she kept her composure. When Mr Trump hit her with his biggest shots, like accusing her of “having hate in her heart”, she didn’t take the bait. She remembered the names of questioners. Mr Trump didn’t. It wasn’t a clear win but If being presidential is showing you can remain calm in the eye of a storm then Mrs Clinton did that.
Hillary Clinton approached the debate trying not to lose, rather than going for the win. She passed up numerous opportunities to go after Donald Trump, and allowed him to control the debate. Mr Trump was relatively poor tonight. He openly contradicted his running mate, gave a poor answer to the key question of the night – over the groping tape – and failed to connect with the town hall participants. But he was allowed to make numerous attacks with very little rebuttal, landing more punches and making a much larger impression on the proceedings. He may have done enough to pull his campaign out of freefall.
Donald Trump won the second presidential debate, but only according to the terrible standards of this election. Bearing in mind that his candidacy was believed to be over, his own party was rejecting him, and he was widely predicted to go nuts on air – he actually did okay. The Donald came out fighting. He weathered the attacks on his character. He ran rings around Clinton several times. The bar was low – way, way low – but Trump still slithered over it.
Donald Trump was surprisingly good on detail. When he stuck to policy he was fine – even though there is a rather awkward gap opening up with Mike Pence on Syria. But stalking around the stage like a grouchy bear, picking fights with the moderators and hurling abuse at the Clintons did him no favours. Given that he avoided a complete meltdown, which some Republicans feared, this will be seen as a victory in itself. As for Mrs Clinton, she was calm to the point of being smug – a trait she showed in some of the primary debates. Smiling beatifically at the camera can eventually grate. The biggest threat to her winning the election is her own complacency.
Considering the storm Donald Trump’s campaign has been dealing with over the weekend, he did rather well. Mr Trump did not explode, as many expected, and it felt like Hillary Clinton failed to put the nail in the coffin. Mr Trump disowned his running mate and his views on the crucial topic of Syria but did manage to score some points on the email scandal. Mrs Clinton did not appear to connect to the audience as well as her rival, but overall is still on top in this election.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Make, Fight Off Attacks in Second Debate (Includes several video clips)
Tags: disabled people, Donald Trump, ewd video tape, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton's emails, Hillary Clinton's experience, immigrants, It wasn't a blow out for Donald Trump, Juanita Broaddrick, latinos, Mike Pence, Muslims, POWs, Stronger Together, women, women from Bill Clinton's past