The 2nd US Presidential debate was a terrible ugly debate, at least at first. To have one candidate get up and proclaim that the spouse of the other candidate is a rapist was so ugly. Especially when the spouse is a former US President, and sitting in the audience with his daughter.
Yes Juanita Broaddrick has made allegations that Bill Clinton raped her in 1978 but as it happens there is also an accusation of rape against Donald Trump. Thank God Hillary Clinton didn’t respond by bringing that up. These allegations should be dealt with in court, not in political debates.
Almost as bad a lowlight was Trump proclaiming that if he wins the election, Hillary Clinton will be in jail. This is what you might expect in Uganda politics, not the US. To have someone seeking the most powerful job in the world proclaim he will jail his political opponent is chilling.
It made his casual dismissal of his Vice-Presidential candidate’s remarks on Syria as totally wrong, as less important than they normally would be.
However despite all this, the second debate was actually better for Trump that the first one. If you put aside the awful first 20 to 30 minutes, he was far more effective in attacking the foreign and domestic policies of Clinton and Obama. He didn’t allow her to get inside his head this time and make it all about his business record. And even on the issue of his taxes, he responded quite well.
To some degree they both came out of the debate having done what they needed to do.
There was incredible pressure on Trump with the 2005 video tape. His entire campaign was seen to be on the brink of collapse, yet he got through the debate with a better performance than in the first one. His ugly ugly remarks about the Clintons probably went down well with his core supporters.
As for Clinton, she mainly played defence, interrupting Trump rarely. She didn’t need to. She now has a commanding lead in the polls and just had to get through the debate. She is perhaps fortunate that the Wikileaks leaks of her speeches were released around the time of the Trump tape. If they had come out during the primary against Bernie Sanders, she may have lost to him. They show her as very friendly to Wall Street (saying bankers are best placed to regulate themselves) and also as a rampant free trader (which is great, except contradicts her phony position on TPP).
It could have been even uglier. The Trump campaign tried to have the accusers against Bill Clinton seated next to him, so they could confront him. This really would have turned it into the Jerry Springer show. It still ranks as the worst debate I have ever watched in a democracy.