My Thoughts on the Second Presidential Debate
The Second Presidential debate was the debate in which the invisible gloves worn by both candidates came off, with Hillary trying to box Trump in on his lewd comments in 2005, and with Trump bringing victims who claim to have been sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton to the debate, as well as mentioning said sexual attacks during the debate. In my opinion, this debate was a stunning win for Trump, and the comeback he needed after last week, where comments Trump made about groping women from 2005 were released. At the very least his performance was able to stop what has been called the “Republican bleeding”.
With the exception of the first twenty or so minutes of the debate, Trump, unlike Clinton, was able to deliver more. More of what made his early debate performance in September good, more zingers (and better ones…Hillary only delivered one meaningful zinger), more successful attacks, more composure, more of what I wanted to see. Clinton was unable to box Trump in a series of traps as she did on September 26, partly because of the moderators’ intervention and partly because he stuck to his themes. The one time Hillary Clinton did trap Trump, which was on birtherism, Trump was able to turn the situation around and pin the birther issue on Clinton. Trump stuck to his strong suits and themes such as “You’ve been doing this for thirty years, and you haven’t done anything”, and “You’re telling the enemy what you’re going to do”, as well as some new ones like “Bernie Sanders said you had really bad judgement” and “She’s going to raise taxes, I’m going to lower taxes”. Trump was also able to do some zingers on the spot such as when Trump said that Hillary was blaming her two-faced behavior on Abraham Lincoln (the message I got was “if Lincoln did it so can I”), where he said “Honest Abe never lied. That’s the difference between him and you. That’s a big big difference.”
Trump was also able to appeal, at least somewhat to perhaps the all-time biggest question of how good a leader is; will that person make my life better or worse? When Trump repeated “I’m lowering _ taxes, she’s raising taxes.”, he was trying to appeal to that question. When he again mentioned how Clinton had been in government for thirty years without fixing the issues that Clinton had, he was trying to answer that question lingering in voters’ heads.
In my view Hillary Clinton, as in last debate, used the same strategy and, consequently, failed to deliver sweeping attacks. Hillary Clinton’s only memorable attacks were on Trump’s lewd comments, saying “This is who Trump is…this is not who we are.”, and on Trump taking deductions and not paying income taxes, but on that one Trump was able to respond and counter Clinton by mentioning the loopholes that her donors use. The only other memorable zinger that stuck was “…America already is great but we are great because we are good.” Everything else besides that was easily deflected. Clinton still referenced her own website for fact-checking as well, which is a dumb idea for reasons I stated before.
While I do think Trump won, I don’t think that independents would be moved much by this debate. Trump appealed to his base, but his comments on women still have some people nervous to vote for him, and Clinton still seems untrustworthy. In the past two debates Clinton participated in, she wasn’t aggressive enough. If she were, maybe she would’ve been able to win the debate. I doubt much will change because of either candidate’s debate performance besides Trump ending the aforementioned “Republican bleeding”, at least temporarily.