The second presidential debate of 2016 took place at Washington University in St. Louis last night and both sides are, naturally, claiming victory. Donald Trump, who has been battered by the revelation of a 2005 tape in which he brags about how he can grab women "by the pussy" because he's famous, faced off against Hillary Clinton, who has been gaining in some polls. Overall, Trump did better than his first debate, which he didn't prepare for. But do we really want a guy who threatens to imprison his opponent if elected?
DVRing the debate. Nobody tell me how the country ends.
— Peter Schultz (@pete_schultz) October 10, 2016
Who would want to touch that gross little hand?
The candidates did not shake hands at the beginning of the debate.
(They did at the end, however.)
Move Over, Tricky Dick:
Trump said to Clinton, "If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. Because there has never been so many lies, so much deception, there has never been anything like it."
WATCH: Donald Trump talks about getting a "special prosecutor" to look into Hillary Clinton. pic.twitter.com/LCdwG0pJ9J
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) October 10, 2016
As NBC News reports, "Donald Trump's pledge Sunday night that he would order his attorney general to investigate Hillary Clinton, and his quip that she should "be in jail," is a direct breach of the tradition of nonpartisan rule of law."
A president is not typically authorized to order specific criminal investigations of individuals, let alone a public pledge to investigate a political opponent. Former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted that President Richard Nixon's attorney general "courageously resigned" after being asked to fire a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.
When Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused, Nixon went on to fire several members of his cabinet in what became known as the "Saturday Night Massacre."
Only time I've ever heard a candidate threatening to jail his opponent was in the Congo. He lost & was later convicted of war crimes.
— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) October 10, 2016
He went there:
Before the debate, Trump hosted a panel of women who have accused President Bill Clinton of sexual assault, as well as one woman who was raped when she was 12 years old; Hillary Clinton defended the accused rapist when she was a court-appointed attorney (Clinton has said that she asked to be taken off the case, and Politifact reports that appears to be true).
Politico likened the event to "dousing a campaign already on fire with buckets of fresh gasoline and bringing the worst fears of many Republicans to a stunning realization.
Trump doesn't want anyone to talk about his rape culture attitude:
— Variety (@Variety) October 10, 2016
The mogul expressed regret over his pussy-grabbing remarks, but insisted it wasn't a big deal, because "I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do," and repeatedly tried to change the subject when asked about them, "I'm very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it's locker room talk and it's one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We're going to defeat ISIS."
And the sniff was back:
During the first debate, Trump sniffed so much that Howard Dean speculated he was using cocaine.
First sniff of the night. Everyone drink. #Debates
— Mary McCormack (@marycmccormack) October 10, 2016
RETURN OF THE SNIFF!!!! #debate
— Greg Poehler (@GregPoehler) October 10, 2016
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 10, 2016
Advisor: "Try not to sniff so much this time."
Trump: "NO, I'm doubling down. Every other word. I'm gonna have the best, loudest sniffling."
— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) October 10, 2016
Tax stuff, sniffy sniff. Seriously, if I actually transcribed, there would be bigly sniffs. He claims he's lowering taxes, she's raising em.
— emily nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) October 10, 2016
BIGLY. SNIFF. "YOU CAN LOOK AT ME." SNIFF.
— quinn cummings (@quinncy) October 10, 2016
Sniff 72 #debatetonight
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) October 10, 2016
— ChannelingClaire (@t_corona) October 10, 2016
@reimamy I'm an expert & ABSOLUTELY
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) October 10, 2016
Clinton laid out her case crisply:
Clinton in response to Trump tapes: "I think it's clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is" https://t.co/IVNYmBtK4b
— ABC News (@ABC) October 10, 2016
Trump basically said he doesn't talk to Mike Pence, so he doesn't agree with his running mate's position on Syria:
When moderator Martha Raddatz brought up how Trump running mate Mike Pence said, "Provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength, and that if Russia continues to be involved in airstrikes along with the Syrian government forces of [President Bashar] Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime," Trump replied, "Okay. He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree. I disagree. I think you have to knock out ISIS."
Donald Trump on Mike Pence: pic.twitter.com/WgacsZI4mR
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) October 10, 2016
So that nearly $1 billion tax loss the Times reported about Trump taking...
He essentially admitted it was true but still refused to release his taxes:
With this comment, Trump in effect admitted that he used his $916 million loss to avoid paying federal income taxes for years and years. https://t.co/uRaOMZ8D10
— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) October 10, 2016
Trump had terrible body language:
There was no shimmying tonight—just Trump lurking closely behind Clinton as she addressed the town hall audience:
What. Is. He. Doing. pic.twitter.com/6uE8sf09ul
— James West (@jameswest2010) October 10, 2016
This looks like a poster for a 1970s horror movie pic.twitter.com/vCVGrTLdte
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 10, 2016
I asked Nigel Farrage to elaborate on his comparison of Donald Trump to a gorilla pic.twitter.com/txxGZQRonb
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) October 10, 2016
"he made a base play, but it was disastrous for women. hulking around, interrupting her."
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) October 10, 2016
Clinton gave Trump the perfect opportunity to zing her:
When trying to explain the Wikileaked emails that show how Clinton said politicians have "private and public" positions, she claimed it was inspired by the film Lincoln, which looked how how Abraham Lincoln got the 13th Amendment passed. Trump scoffed:
— CNN (@CNN) October 10, 2016
Melania Trump was wearing a "pussy bow" shirt:
— Kikazaru (@Sartre10) October 10, 2016
One of the town hall participants became the Internet's hero, because we all needed a life raft tonight:
"All I've ever wanted to be is a meme," Ken Bone whispered as he pulled on the sweater pic.twitter.com/pF4M7JwgqA
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) October 10, 2016
Bone in 2016. pic.twitter.com/cNwu3ly3nM
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 10, 2016
Donald, what will you do to ensure equal opportunities for all soccer clubs at all levels of the pyramid? pic.twitter.com/R2RbkW8Yrb
— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) October 10, 2016
— Matt (@Matt_Campbe) October 10, 2016
Saying something nice:
One of the town hall participants—all of whom were undecided—tried to end the debate on a positive note, asking, "My question to both of you is—regardless of the current rhetoric—would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?"
Clinton jumped on the question and said, "His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don't agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that, and I think that is something that as a mother and her grandmother, is very important to me."
And Trump admitted, "She doesn't quit. She doesn't give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She is a fighter" though "I disagree with much of what she is fighting for."
Kellyanne Conway really is like her SNL counterpart:
Last night, Saturday Night Live had a skit imagining the Trump campaign manager's day off—filled with yoga, roller skating, grocery shopping and baths with her husband—but constantly interrupted by Trump's unhinged remarks. And Conway liked it!
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 9, 2016
After the debate, Conway spoke to Chris Matthews and tantalized everyone with possible future bombshells:
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) October 10, 2016
Later Conway clarified by saying that her status on the campaign might change because of her own personal situation, if her family needs her. But everyone can dream, right?
Rudy being Rudy:
After a long, busy day of trying to explain why Trump's sexual assault boasts are terrible but still okay enough for the American people to elect him, the Mayor of 9/11 Town was on hand to demonize Bill Clinton after the debate:
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 10, 2016
In the end...
Most commentators believe that Trump managed to fire up his base, but didn't connect with undecided women who are still aghast at the leaked tape. From the NY Times:
Republican strategist Liz Mair opined:
Diane Crawford, 62, a resident of Greenfield, Iowa, was struck by how eagerly Mr. Trump sought to change the subject to Mrs. Clinton’s spouse and his infidelities.
“He just kept throwing Bill Clinton in there,” she said, “and Bill Clinton is not running for president.”
A skeptic of Mrs. Clinton’s heading into the debate, Ms. Crawford said she had changed her mind during those tense exchanges. “I’m not hesitant any longer to support Hillary,” Ms. Crawford said. “She showed her leadership ability with her response.”
Watch: A bunch of Rs will use Trump's acceptable performance tonight as an excuse to stay on board, convince themselves there's hope
— Liz Mair (@LizMair) October 10, 2016
Rs should resist that temptation. The footage of Trump's bad performance re: "grab them by the pussy" will be all over cable for 48 hours.
— Liz Mair (@LizMair) October 10, 2016
The third presidential debate is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19th, at 9 p.m. EST. If you want to watch last night's debate in full, here you are: