As if a presidential debate was not essential enough to a national election already, Republican nominee Donald Trump was in dire need of a stellar performance Sunday night in order to recover from one of the worst weekends a major party nominee has experienced, according to CNN.
The second presidential debate — hosted at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz — began with the two candidates taking the stage without shaking hands.
After a 2005 recording showing Trump bragging of sexually assaulting women, he said that he was “not proud” of the behavior and then apologized to his family and the American people.
“I have a great respect for women,” Trump said. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. I was embarrassed by it.”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton responded to Trump’s comments, by saying it’s clear to anyone who heard [the recording] that it represents exactly who he is.
“I’ve disagreed with past Republican nominees but I never questioned their fitness to serve,” Clinton said. “Donald Trump is different.”
Trump redirected the conversation of his 2005 comments to former President Bill Clinton, stating that his words did not compare to former President Clinton’s actions with women.
“If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse,” Trump said in front of a crowd that included four women who had accused President Clinton of sexual assault or harassment.”
Trump then started yet another conversation over Clinton’s email scandal, threatening an investigation into the actions of Clinton while she served as Secretary of State.
“I am going to instruct my attorney general to look into your situation,” Trump said.
Clinton said that it was a good thing that Trump was not in charge of the laws in the country, to which Trump responded, “Because you’d be in jail.”
Trump was questioned how he planned to stop Islamophobia, his reply moved into a discussion of “radical Islamic terrorists,” referencing the mass shooting in Orlando, FL, and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Clinton, however, said Trump’s statements through his campaign have been destructive.
“We are not at war with Islam,” Clinton said. “It plays into the hands of the terrorists as though we are.”
Monday, former President Clinton called President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act “the craziest thing in the world.” While he attempted to clarify his remarks Tuesday night at a rally for his wife, the topic was not avoided Sunday night at the debate.
“He clarified what he meant,” Hillary Clinton said. “If we were to start all over again, we might come up with a different system, but we have an employer-based system.”
Trump, however, capitalized on former President Clinton’s statement, calling President Obama’s healthcare plan a “disaster.”
“You know it, we all know it,” Trump said.
Throughout the debate, audience members were given the chance to ask candidates questions. Subjects from audience members focused on coarseness and their willingness to serve “all Americans.”
The final question of the evening came from an audience member who asked the candidates to name one positive quality in their opponent.
“His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald,” Clinton said. “I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that.”
Trump expressed gratitude for the compliment and offered his own.
“I will say this about Hillary: she doesn’t quit,” Trump said. “She doesn’t give up. I respect that.”
Trump and Clinton shook hands to conclude the debate.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace will moderate the third presidential debate from the University of Nevada on October 19.