Clinton says Trump’s campaign is exploding. Trump calls Clinton the devil.

It was the ugliest debate in American history and it began without a handshake.

From the opening moments of the second presidential debate, Donald Trump tried to downplay the tape of him bragging about his past sexually aggressive advances on women — “it’s just words folks, it’s just words” — as he tried to change the topic to Bill Clinton, the Islamic State, Hillary Clinton’s emails and anything else.

“This was locker room talk,” Trump said over and over.

Clinton would not let Trump off the hook, however. “What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women and he has said the video doesn’t represent who he is but it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is,” she said.

Clinton said this election was different than the typical Democrat vs. Republican contest.

“I never questioned their fitness to serve,” she said of past GOP nominees. “Donald Trump is different.”

Trump acknowledged he wasn’t proud of his comments but accused Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, of far worse “actions,” pointing to the four women whom he had invited into the audience with allegations against the Clintons.

Trump, asked three times by moderator Anderson Cooper whether he had physically accosted women the way he described on the tape, Trump eventually said, “No I have not,” though some women have publicly accused him of touching them inappropriately.

Clinton said Trump owed the American people an apology — not just for the tape but his past attacks on President Barack Obama’s birthplace, the family of a fallen soldier and others.

“He owes the president an apology and our country an apology and he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his words,” she said.

There was no apology. Instead, more attacks, as Trump tried to make the debate about Clinton, hitting her for her private email server and saying that, as president, he would appoint a special prosecutor and said “you would go to jail.” He often walked into her physical space as he paced the stage.

In a remarkable exchange, moderator Martha Raddatz pressed Trump on Syria and whether he agreed with a newly aggressive posture that had been outlined by his running mate, Mike Pence, in the vice presidential debate last week.

“He and I haven’t spoken,” Trump said flatly. “And I disagree.”

At one point, Trump cavalierly called Clinton the “devil” and later said she has “tremendous hate in her heart.” The two repeatedly called each other liars as Trump questioned how Clinton could affect change after decades in politics as she questioned his fundamentally fitness.

“With her, it’s all talk and no action,” Trump said.

As Trump amped up his attacks, Clinton appeared to lose her patience, accusing the billionaire of desperately trying to throw out diversions because his campaign is “exploding.”

“I know you are into big diversion, anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way Republicans are leaving you,” she shot at Trump.

Clinton and Trump sparred over Trump’s proposal to ban immigration of Muslims, their healthcare proposals, Russia, Iraq, Syria and tax policy.

“I have been in favor of getting rid of carried interest for years,” Clinton said of a tax plank.

“If you were an effective senator you could have done it,” Trump butted in.

There was a Republican president at the time, Clinton fired back. “Under our Constitution, presidents have something called veto,” she snapped.

Earlier, when it was unclear whose turn it was to answer, Trump interjected, “No, I’m a gentleman, Hillary, go ahead.” But most of the debate was anything but gentlemanly.

“She’s got bad judgment, honestly so bad that she should never be president of the United States,” Trump said at one point.

“I’m sorry I have to keep saying this, but he lives in an alternative reality,” Clinton said at another.

Clinton went on the attack over Trump’s relationship with Russia, and the alleged hacking of the Democratic Party this year. “Maybe because he wants to do business in Moscow,” she said.

Later, as Clinton tried to defend whether her recently hacked and released speeches to Wall Street showed her to be “two-faced,” she invoked seeing a film on Abraham Lincoln that Trump seized upon.

“Now she’s blaming a lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said to laughter from the audience. “Honest Abe,” he mocked.

In one of Trump’s shakiest moments, he demonstrated his inability to answer specific questions on foreign policy, as Raddatz repeatedly pressed him on Syria.

When asked what would happen if war-torn Aleppo falls, Trump stumbled for an answer. “It has fallen. It basically has fallen,” before talking instead about Mosul, which is in Iraq.

In the final half hour, a frustrated Trump started the blame game, claiming the moderators were unfairly allowing Clinton’s answers to run long while he was being repeatedly cut off. “It’s really very interesting,” Trump huffed.

The two candidates arrived in St. Louis after a devastating 48 hours for Trump, whose campaign was sent into a tailspin on Friday by the publishing of the decade-old tape in which Trump described in graphic and sexually aggressive terms making unwanted advances on women, who, he said, allowed him to do so because he is a “star.”

Republican governors, senators and congressmen spent Saturday rescinding their endorsements from Trump, as some called for him to drop out. Even Trump’s own running mate, Mike Pence, canceled his planned appearance on Trump’s behalf.


Many Republican officials had called on Trump to display contrition and apologize succinctly ahead of the showdown. But the showman businessman began lashing out even before he arrived for the debate, writing on Twitter, “So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers – and elections – go down!”

His former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, attacked Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on CNN as a “weak” and “failed leader.” “Where was he today on the talk shows, saying Donald Trump is our leader?” Lewandowski asked.

Then, less than two hours before Trump and Clinton were scheduled to take the stage, Trump sprung a surprise stunt that hinted at the nasty debate to follow: holding a photo-op with four women who have alleged they were victimized by Bill and Hillary Clinton to various degrees, including Juanita Broaddrick, who declared, “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there is any comparison.”

All four women were inside the debate hall, where Trump and Clinton sparred in a town-hall setting answering a few questions from undecided voters. But the bulk of the debate was consumed by pointed questions from Cooper and Raddatz.

After the first debate, when Trump struggled to make key arguments and faded in the final half, Clinton has surged back into the lead nationally and in key states. Trump’s self-inflicted troubles — including spending days attacking a beauty pageant winner — were weighing him down even before the tape that emerged on Friday.

Top Republican officials said publicly and privately that Sunday’s debate represented Trump’s last, best chance to salvage his campaign, as many prepared for the fallout should he fail, and to save the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.


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