Politico calls the second Clinton-Trump debate the ugliest debate ever. Would you agree and what does this debate says us about the state of American politics? Read few comments.
Audrey Haynes, Department of Political Science, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Georgia
Given the fact that our earliest campaigns, that had quite a bit of similar mud-slinging, did not have debates, but used proxies via partisan newspapers and pamphlets to pillory their foes, the answer would be yes.
Nasty, mean, and debasing things have been said in American politics, but most often they are done via robocalls or whisper campaigns. This was the first time it has been done as directly, as brutally, and without any concern for what the “neighbors” hear. The dirty laundry was out for everyone to see.
Was it out because Trump had to deflect or equalize his own gross words? Perhaps. Was it because the dynamic involved a woman and Trump was pretty sure she would not punch back as hard, not because she is a woman, but because her campaign advisors believe it is not in her best interest? Maybe. Trump prides himself on being tough and hitting “back” and it doesn’t matter who it is.
Whatever the reason, whatever rules we had for proper behavior during presidential debates were broken by Trump. My thought is that the Breitbart wing of the campaign won the hour. This is a Breitbart strategy, supported and coordinated by Breitbart. And this is a reminiscent of those partisan newspaper days as well, but more evident in the close quarters of Trump. Less concrete on the Clinton side. She has her supporters in the media, but they are not as directly involved in the campaign.
I do not think Trump can win, but the real question is what happens in the Republican Party and what happens to these people he has mobilized. While they may not all be “deplorables” there are many who are not the nicest people this country has to offer. In fact, they are the bullies on Twitter.
Steffen Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University
The second debate was awkward, nasty, uncomfortable and “UGLY.” But it was not nearly as interesting as the first. I had 250 students at a “debate watch” event (with some excellent food!) and they were mostly bored.
Trump did apologize for the comments he made. Trump said it was just boys talking. He denied he’s even actually assaulted women which seemed not very believable.
We did not see Clinton attack Trump hard and push on the tape that was released with his comments about sexually molesting women. That’s because she and the Democrats feel the revelation will have done its damage by itself (many Republican leaders separating themselves from Trump)
There has never been a debate where a candidate brings the women that a former president (Bill Clinton) had sexual encounters with as Trump did. Think if someone had brought all of John F Kennedy’s girlfriends!! That would have taken a big room!
Trump threatening to jail Hillary Clinton for her emails was terrible. He interrupted her again and again which was bad. Trump looked uncomfortable.
Overall it was a disgrace for a nice country such as the United States. Most Americans wish there were 2 other candidates for President.
Clinton clearly won the debate .. but …The debate did not change much. I doubt if independent and undecided voters had their minds changed. The election will probably be close with Clinton getting 48% of the vote and Trump getting 45%. We will see!
Robert Y. Shapiro, Professor, Political Science, Columbia University
I would agree that the debate fell to new lows thanks to the tape of Trump and his horrendous statements, etc. And threatening to prosecute Clinton was unprecedented — and what he proposed was probably illegal. The fact that the overall electorate does no view either candidate favorably shows the low level to which American politics and fallen.
Marty Linsky, Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard University, Co-founder, Cambridge Leadership Associates
Not expert enough to say the ugliest debate ever, but certainly the ugliest Presidential campaign debate since I began to vote. Does not say anything new or profound that has not already been said about this campaign. The stakes are high. It is three weeks away from Election Day. The two candidate are deeply flawed and deeply committed to the idea that the other one is unfit for office. The challenge for the United States will be to be able to move on once it is over.
Christopher Larimer, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Iowa
The debate was certainly surreal and the tone was negative and divisive, but I question whether it will matter to the large portion of the electorate that identifies or leans toward one party or the other. Particularly for moderate to strong partisans, the debate will have been filtered through their own partisan lens. We know from polls and more systematic research that elected officials and voters have become more polarized in terms of votes and public opinion. The debate will be processed through those strong partisan lenses.