ST. LOUIS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Angry fireworks erupted at the second presidential debate Sunday evening, as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton took Republican Donald Trump to task for his remarks about women, while Trump threatened to have Clinton prosecuted for her email scandal.
The debate got off to a cold start, as Clinton and Trump refused to shake hands as they entered the debate hall in St. Louis, in a break from traditional debate decorum.
And early in the debate, moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN raised the issue of a 2005 clip in which Trump made vulgar descriptions of sexual advances on women.
The video involving Trump, obtained by The Washington Post, showed him talking with Billy Bush, then of “Access Hollywood,” on a bus. The bus was rolling into a studio lot, where Trump was set to film cameos on the set of the “Days of Our Lives” soap opera program, CBS News reported.
The two were caught on a hot microphone discussing in lewd terms how Trump had attempted to “move on” an actress, who later made an appearance in the video.
“And I moved on her. And I failed I admit it. I did try and f— her. She was married,” Trump said.
Mirroring earlier remarks, Trump dismissed the remarks as “locker room talk.”
“I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Seriously, I’m not proud of it,” he said.
Nonetheless, Trump said, the tape was “locker room talk” and “one of these things.” He deflected the issue to the need to “knock the hell out of ISIS.”
Cooper put it more bluntly, saying, “That is sexual assault.”
Trump responded: “No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understand what I said.”
Clinton said despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, his remarks represented his personality perfectly.
“I said starting back in June that he was not fit to be president and commander in chief, and many Republicans and independents have said the same thing. What we saw and heard on Friday was Donald Trump talking about women — what he thinks about women and what he does to women — and he has said in the video doesn’t represent who he is,” Clinton said. “But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.”
But Trump then turned his attention to former President Bill Clinton. Before the debate, Trump appeared at an event with women who accused former President Clinton of rape and unwanted sexual assault.
“There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that has been so abusive to women. You can say it how ever you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women, and Hillary Clinton attacked them viciously,” he said.
CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reports the former president sat emotionless in the audience as he was just a few yards away from the several women who accused him of sex crimes.
Hillary Clinton went on to make a list of people to whom Trump has never apologized for his remarks, including a judge whom Trump said could not be impartial because of his Mexican heritage, and President Barack Obama – whom Trump once argued was not really born in the United States.
Clinton chose not to address the comments about her husband.
“When they go low, you go high,” she said.
Trump deflected the discussion to Clinton’s private email server scandal, and threatened to have Clinton prosecuted if he were elected.
“I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say this, and I hate to say this, but if I win, I am going to get my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation,” Trump said.
Clinton responded, “It’s just fortunate that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”
“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump said.
Trump also demanded to know why Cooper and co-moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News were not bringing up the email scandal.
“It’s nice – one on three,” Trump said.
Trump further said Clinton unfairly won her party’s nod by cheating rival Bernie Sanders.
About Sanders, who eventually endorsed Clinton, Trump said, “I was so surprised to see him sign on with the devil.”
Trump went on to repeat debunked claims that Clinton started rumors that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Trump has fomented the conspiracy for years — until last month, when he declared Obama, who was born in Hawaii, an American citizen.
Scuffles Erupt Over Health Care, Taxes, Foreign Policy
The debate did later move on to other subjects, when an audience member asked about the Affordable Care Act and the expenses involved.
Clinton said Obamacare was not without problems, and said she would “save what works and is good” about the act.
But she said if the Affordable Care Act were done away with, “all of those benefits I just mentioned are lost to everybody, not just people who get their health insurance on the exchange, and then we will have to start all over again.”
Trump called Obamacare a failure and a “total disaster,” and said it would “never work.”
“It’s going to be one of the biggest line items in our country very shortly,” Trump said. “We have to repeal it and replace it.”
When Cooper asked what Trump would do to replace Obamacare, Trump said, “You’re going to have plans that are so good because there’s so much competition.”
Meanwhile, a woman who said she is Muslim asked what the candidates would do about Islamophobia and Muslims being labeled as a threat to the country.
“You’re right about Islamophobia and that’s a shame. But one thing we have to do is we have to make sure that – because there is a problem – I mean, whether we like it or not, and we can be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem,” Trump said.
He said Muslims must report suspicious activity in their own community, and claimed they did not do so before the attack in San Bernardino last December.
Clinton said Trump’s rhetoric on Muslims has been “demagogic” and damaging.
“We’ve had Muslims in America since George Washington, and we’ve had many successful Muslims. We just lost a particularly well-known one with Muhammad Ali,” Clinton said. “My vision of America is an America where everyone has a place.”
She said her plan to defeat ISIS involves a coalition of majority Muslim nations, while “right now, a lot of those nations are hearing what Donald said and wondering, why should we cooperate with America?”
Raddatz went on to ask Trump about his earlier remark about a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. Trump said the ban had “morphed” into what amounts to “extreme vetting.”
“I don’t want to have – with all the problems this country has and all the problems you see going in – hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about them,” Trump said.
Trump also accused Clinton of being soft on immigration.
“She wants amnesty for everybody – come right in, come right over – it’s a horrible thing that she’s doing,” Trump said. “She’s got bad judgment – so bad that she should never be President of the United States.”
Trump also claimed that Clinton would raise taxes, while Trump would lower them.
“We are going to be thriving again,” Trump said. “We have no growth in this country. There’s no growth.”
Clinton quickly fired back: “Everything you’ve heard just now from Donald is not true. I’m sorry to have to keep saying this, but he lives in an alternative reality.”
She mentioned a New York Times report from earlier this month on Trump’s tax history – which he has refused to disclose himself. The Times received a copy of his 1995 tax return, showing he claimed a nearly $916 million loss, which could allow him to avoid paying federal income tax for up to 18 years. The Times verified the documents with Trump’s former tax accountant.
Clinton said Trump’s tax plan would lower taxes for corporations and make working people suffer.
Cooper went on to ask Trump about his claiming a loss and avoiding paying federal income tax. He said did indeed claim a loss and take advantage of tax law as the New York Times report said, but he said he is not alone.
“Of course I do, of course I do, and so do all of her donors; and most of her donors – her donors took massive tax write-offs,” Trump said.
When asked about the humanitarian crisis in Syria, Trump said the solution is to destroy ISIS – and he claimed that the failure of American foreign policy is to blame for the current situation in the Middle East.
“I don’t like (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) at all, but Assad is killing ISIS. Russia is killing ISIS. Iran is killing ISIS, and those three have lined up because of our weak foreign policy,” Trump said.
Trump added that the U.S. should be taking immediate and secret action instead of announcing that Mosul will be attacked in the near future.
“How stupid is America?” he said.
Clinton said she would not use American ground forces in Syria, and said she hopes ISIS is pushed out of Iraq before she takes office.
“I do think that there is a good chance that we could take Mosul, and you know, Donald says he knows more about ISIS than the generals,” Clinton said. “No, he does not.”
Another audience member asked the candidates if they could be a devoted president for all the people. Trump said he would, and claimed that African-Americans and Latinos in inner cities are suffering tremendously and Clinton has done nothing about it.
He claimed there was 45 percent poverty among African-Americans in inner cities, and added, “the education is a disaster” and “jobs are essentially nonexistent.”
Clinton talked about her own background working with poor and struggling Americans, and said she would be sure that America would be accepting of all.
“I have a deep devotion – to use your absolutely correct word – to making sure that every American feels that he or she has a place in our country,” Clinton said.
She said she many people have feared they would not have a place in Trump’s America.
Cooper then asked Clinton about her remark that half of Clinton’s supporters were a “basket of deplorables” – a remark that she later regretted.
Clinton said her argument was not with Trump’s supporters, but with Trump himself. But Trump said Clinton was to blame for a “divided” America.
“You look at Charlotte. You look at Baltimore. You look at the evidence that’s taking place in the inner cities – Chicago. You look at Washington, D.C. We have an increase in murder within our cities – the biggest in 45 years. We have a divided nation because of people like her, and believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart,” Trump said. “And when she says ‘deplorables,’ she meant it.”
When asked about U.S. Supreme Court appointments, Clinton said she would look for judges who would uphold Roe v. Wade and other important rulings, while Trump would appoint someone like Justice Antonin Scalia – who would focus on strict interpretation of the Constitution and would defend the Second Amendment.
In a final audience question, each candidate was asked to name one positive thing that they respect in one another.
Raddatz offered Trump the opportunity to go first, but Clinton spoke first instead.
“I respect his children. 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 grandmother is very important to me,” Clinton said.
Trump said he considered the remark a “very nice compliment” and praised Clinton as “fighter” who “doesn’t give up.”
“I disagree with much of what she’s fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases, but she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit, and she doesn’t give up, and I consider that to be a very good trait,” Trump said.
The two candidates did shake hands before leaving the stage.
Earlier in the evening, Trump did not take questions as he appeared with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey.
Jones is a former Arkansas state worker who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton in 1994 for allegedly exposing himself to her in a Little Rock hotel room.
She said of Trump, “He’s going to make America great again.”
Jones offered a message about Trump: “They should all look at the fact that he is a good person. He is not what other people are saying he’s being.”
In 1998, Bill Clinton agreed to an $850,000 settlement with Jones. The settlement included no apology or admission of guilt.
Also at the event was Kathy Shelton, who was sexually assaulted as a 12-year-old. Hillary Clinton represented the suspect as a public defender.
The Hillary Clinton campaign was dismissive of the meeting, which came following the release of a 2005 clip in which Trump made vulgar descriptions of sexual advances on women.
“We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom,” Hillary for America Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement. “Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that. If Donald Trump doesn’t see that, that’s his loss. As always, she’s prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”
Also earlier Sunday, Trump lashed out at the growing list of Republicans abandoning his candidacy, predicting that they’re the ones who will lose, re-tweeting a series of messages from supporters, including one that lashes out at “GOP traitors!” and says not supporting is voting for “destroying America.”
When it was over, former CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer called the whole spectacle of the debate an embarrassment.
“I would just say, how have we come to this? This is supposed to be a campaign for the most powerful office in the land. Here, we’re marching in women into the hall who are supposed to have some relationship with one of the candidates’ spouses, and what is that supposed to prove – I mean, over and over, ‘If I’m going to be elected, I put you in jail?” Schieffer said. “I mean, this what they do in banana republics. This is the United States of America.”
“People keep asking me, have I ever seen anything like this? And I keep saying no, and I just hope to God I don’t see another campaign like this one. America can do better than what we have seen here tonight,” Schieffer continued. “This was just disgraceful.”
Schieffer said the debate was “WrestleMania” rather than “presidential politics,” and said Trump was primarily to blame.
The final bout between the two candidates will take place on Oct. 19 in Las Vegas.
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