The Second Presidential Debate: Hillary’s Passionate and Trump is on the Prowl

Tonight we saw the first debate since the revelation of 2005 recordings of Donald Trump talking to Billy Bush in which he describes routinely sexually assaulting women — which was apparently what many public figures and GOP leaders needed to withdraw their support of him, after being cool with his plans to deport Muslims, rampant anti-Mexican and Latinx sentiment, and supremely racist anti-Black rhetoric including claiming that the Central Park Five, who have been proven innocent, are in fact guilty. Anyway! In most respects, this debate was exactly what you imagined and feared it might be. As he paced maniacally about the stage, Trump straight up lied about easily confirmable facts, like telling Anderson Cooper “No I didn’t,” when Cooper asked if he had done the things he bragged about doing to Billy Bush, or like claiming he never said to “check out” an alleged sex tape of Alicia Machado’s when he literally tweeted that verbatim.


He also bragged about how many twitter followers he has, implied that he would want to devote resources toward a nuclear arms race with Russia and Iran, kept invoking Bernie Sanders’ implied support, told a Muslim voter that “there’s a problem” and it’s “radical Islamic terrorists,” and told a Black voter who had asked merely about whether Trump would be a president for all Americans that he would address “inner city violence” and “murder,” apparently imagining those were the only issues that mattered to him. Fueling rumors that VP candidate Mike Pence is trying to jump ship, Trump answered a question about how his views differ from Pence’s on Syria by saying “I haven’t talked to him” about it. Confusingly, Trump both claimed that he hadn’t avoided paying taxes for almost 20 years, but also wanted us to know that IF HE DID, it was Hillary’s fault for not personally overhauling the tax code as a lone US Senator.

For Hillary Clinton’s part, she stayed on message with a theme of supporting diversity in America, with more concrete proposals for what she’d do to reform the Affordable Care Act and Syria than her opponent, who interrupted her frequently and accused the debate moderators of giving her more time to answer questions. Trump had attempted to shake Hillary by publicly affiliating himself with women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault, but if he was hoping it would overshadow his own scandal or throw Hillary off, he seems to have been mistaken. Although many issues central to Hillary’s campaign weren’t brought up by moderators or questions, from parental leave to climate change, she was reserved and balanced where Trump was flustered and petulant; in terms of temperament, it was a low bar, but one she certainly cleared.

Speaking of temperament, perhaps one of the more notable aspects of the debate was the shift in moderation. Both Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper were more dogged and demanding of candidates than moderators we’ve seen so far this cycle, with frequent exhortations for Trump to actually answer the question when he tried to deflect or misdirect. Cooper admirably pushed Trump to explicitly tell the American public whether he’d committed sexual assault as he bragged on tape, bringing the question up over and over again until Trump was forced to address it directly — saying “No, I didn’t,” but not being able to elaborate or back that up.

And of course the true stars of the debate, as always, were our loyal readers, who brilliantly shared their thoughts and their debate despair with us. Thank you! Take care of yourselves until next time!

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I can’t wait for that moment 20 years from now when Sarah Paulson wins an Emmy for playing Hillary Clinton, brings her to the ceremony, and apologizes to her on behalf of America.

  2. Seriously though, everyone’s comments on the #ASdebate tag was what kept me sane. Thanks guys. <3

  3. Does anyone else think she’s playing it a bit safe this time? I really wanted to see her wipe the floor with him especially given the last 2 days. I followed the town hall on live blogs, and I thought she was holding back a bit this time, like she could have easily called him out on deflecting to Bill’s history instead of addressing his own behavior, or the ‘heart full of hate’ comment.

    Maybe she was focused on the town hall format, interacting with the audience instead of the opponent, and left it up to moderators to hold him accountable for answering questions this time for that reason.

    Probably a more sound strategy overall to play it safe at this point in the election cycle since she’s got a healthy lead in the polls and just needs to maintain that in order to win. But, part of me wants to see her really take him to task instead of playing it safe — it’s not just about the election, because the people who support Trump aren’t going away and taking them to task for their abhorrent views is simply the right thing to do, as a leader and a voice for reason.

    One last debate! Thanks Rachel.

    • Oh I can.
      Psychopaths are good finding targets to manipulate with their bullshit. Conservative white America is very ripe for the picking. They feel threatened, like their golden atomic age myth of a country has been disintegrating and is being taken from them by Others who will just ruin things completely in a way that will be unsalvageable.

      I mean literally DPD or ASPD when I say psychopath. There like are six symptoms, only 3 are needed class someone as such and Trump exhibits all of them.

      -disregard for social obligations

      -callous unconcern for the feelings of others

      -gross disparity between behaviour and the prevailing social norms

      -behaviour not readily modifiable by adverse experience

      -a low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression

      -a tendency to blame others, or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behaviour bringing the patient into conflict with society.

      Now I ain’t a doctor, accredited therapist or nothing but…y’all.

      • This is depressing for me. I can relate to all these symptoms. But at least i wont try to be President of anything.

        • Hi there, just wanted to say I’m sorry for the symptoms you experience and for the struggles I imagine they cause for you. I’m a firm believer that the choices people make about how to manage mental health symptoms say a lot more about them than the symptoms themselves. Wishing you care and support as you navigate all these things.

          • Hey Lee, dont apologize for your sincere concern. I appreciate it anyway, you seem like a very caring person. All good. :)

        • @superrodent26 – If you can recognize symptoms in yourself, feel bad about them, and take steps not to act on them, then you are not a sociopath. We all have dark sides, and that in itself is nothing to be ashamed of.

      • Hey so, while Trump is like categorically a Terrible Human Being, I feel deeply uncomfortable with this tendency a lot of people have to diagnose him with things. Whether or not he does have any mental illnesses or personality disorders (which as far as we know, he doesn’t), it only contributes to this relationship people make between “mentally ill” and “Bad”, especially with regards to personality disorders, which are already heavily stigmatised.

        Like, he may well be! We don’t know, and there are criteria needed for all personality disorders beyond that list that we couldn’t diagnose Trump without knowing him better! But there are better ways to criticise the man that don’t read to mentally ill people like the criticism is “he’s not like us, he must be like you [because people like you are bad]”.

        This is not a specific attack on you, and I hope it doesn’t read as such, but rather it’s a very common rhetoric that seems to be appearing with this election, and where I have the space to bring it up where I feel like this can be respected (because the AS comments section is like the least toxic comments section I have found on the internet anywhere), I would like to.

        • Hi @floam – I am someone with a long family history and personal history of various kinds of mental illness, and I have also lost more than one beloved person to mental illness. I am a strong advocate for removing stigma and promoting education and awareness of mental health issues. And with all due respect, I strongly object to the idea of sociopathy – specifically, acute forms of Antisocial Personality Disorder – being lumped in with other kinds of mental illnesses or personality disorders. They are only comparable in the sense that mice and grizzly bears are both technically animals with teeth.

          I don’t know if you have ever witnessed firsthand the kind of twisted, hellish devastation that a person with APD can wreak on another person’s life, but I have. I watched a relatively happy, stable person (a person who I loved very much) be driven to the literal brink of suicide, lose all of her close relationships and support, lose her livelihood, and eventually be driven literally out of town to the extent that she has now disappeared – nobody knows where she is, how she is doing or if she’s even still alive – all at the hands of one sociopathic person who targeted her for no reason other than to amuse herself.

          Having been through this experience (as the sole remaining person who tried desperately for months to help my friend) and having had to go through extensive therapy myself to deal with the resulting trauma and suicidal despair, I reserve for myself the right to be super vigilant, and to look for and recognize symptoms of APD in others in order to keep myself safe. Only a professional mental health practitioner can officially diagnose APD, yes, but after what I have been through I am not going to keep quiet about what I see and very clearly recognize.

          • Your own experience is your own, but you can’t assume everyone saying the same thing is also as thoughtful. Some people are just diagnosing Trump and other awful people because they feel badly about all mental illnesses that aren’t just anxiety or depression. Agreeing sometimes feeds into that, because they think you are like them. And without explaining every time, those that are mentally ill think you are like the worst people too. It’s just hard to get the nuance out all the time.

            @ OP of this thread, if you care about mentally ill people, please do not use the slur “psycho”. There are people who have psychosis, which is a very different thing, that are hurt by this term.

          • Hi there, @chandra. First of all, I’m very sorry for what happened to your friend and your loss of her from your life, and the difficulty you had with your own health as a result.

            However, I very much agree with what @sorelais said in their reply. I also do object to the need to call APD a mental illness only in the way a bear is also an animal with teeth, because people will say the same thing about narcissistic personality disorder, borderline, histrionic… you see the pattern here? There are people with BPD in my life who are dear and good to me, but people will jump to armchair diagnose my *abuser* with it because of their preconceptions that abusive=personality disorder=abusive. People jump linguistically from “psychopath” to “psychotic” to fearing bipolar individuals if they take anti-psychotics because being psychotic means you’re Bad. It doesn’t help anybody to divide diagnoses up into Good Mentally Ill and Bad Mentally Ill, or Deserving Mentally Ill and Undeserving Mentally Ill.

            I obviously in no way am going to discourage you from identifying the behaviours that you need to in order to protect yourself from people like the one who abused your friend, however *pathologising* those behaviours inherently and in all people doesn’t seem to specifically aid you here. Going “Trump shows a callous disregard for other people, and is quick to temper, and these are dangerous behaviours” is entirely valid (and I imagine the shared opinion of everyone here). Taking that a step further to “he therefore is mentally ill in This Specific Way” doesn’t make your communication any more specific or accurate, and actually I think obsfucates your point to a certain extent.

            While your context is obviously *not* that of “this is Other, Other is Bad”, because of your personal and family history, this kind of rhetoric aligns you with people who *do* think that way. Again it was not a personal comment I meant to make, but one on this whole conversation that many people are having about Trump.

            Thank you for being so respectful in your disagreement, and I hope we understand one another better now.

          • @floam – I’m finding myself feeling frustrated by this conversation. I will need to find the time to sit down and think about how I want to respond. I think we fundamentally disagree about certain definitions and implications, and I certainly reject the idea that I’m aligning myself with misinformed people by saying any of the things I have said. I do also appreciate the civil nature of this discussion, so I want to make sure I choose my words carefully in my reply.

  4. “Is that a bad thing I’m being accused of? This locker room talk? It’s definitely a bad thing. Nobody thinks it’s more of a bad thing than I do. But it’s locker room talk, and that’s why ISIS is bad, and we need to stop it.” – Donald Trump, during the Second Presidential Debate

    • Even knowing Trump, that pivot threw me off. He can transition from ANY thought to “because ISIS.”

        • My version was a parody. Somewhat.

          What Trump actually said was, “No I didn’t say that at all, I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it, I apologize to my family, I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it, but this is locker room talk. […] Yes, I’m very embarrassed, 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.”

          The portion I had to cut was him going on for- I counted- almost thirty solid seconds about ISIS, and, really, just going ‘Okay, I know this looks like a bad thing that I did… But look at what other bad things are going on! Worse things! Look at what THEY did!’

  5. I did not know there was an #ASdebate hashtag! Why didn’t I know we were doing this!? Going back to read everyone’s hilarious comments now!

      • It’s like a trainwreck with a train has tank cars.
        You know there’s going to be a big boom or something real awful that could affect everyone in the area and not just those directly involved in the crash.
        Like that news anchor and her estranged father in the end of Deep Impact you can’t not look at the thing about to destroy possibly everything.

  6. I wanted to hear what Trump was saying but that horrid bright red tie was getting in my eye and making me deaf.

  7. Somehow I woke up to German media telling me that Trump “won”, but that he just won because he was a choleric asshole and that somehow made him lose in a sense. I am utterly confused and really glad I can just sleep through this.

  8. Thank you, Rachel, for your coverage of the debates. I know it’s been said before, but for those of us who can’t/choose not to watch the debates for mental health reasons, it’s really great to still be able to follow what’s happening and get information.

  9. As a non-American, I’m watching this election with both dread and bewilderment. It’s just mind-boggling how his supporters can continue to stand by this ignorant misogynistic racist when he has offended every single demography (except maybe white dudes like him).
    The world is chaotic and messy enough without putting a 70 year-old man-child in charge of the most powerful country in the world.

  10. Every time Clinton jotted something down when Trump was speaking she looked like a teacher giving a failing grade.

  11. Judge Yelp! Can that be a real thing so congress can get it’s collective shit together and approve a nominee? Like “hey, this guy has great customer service and makes a killer dirty martini – let’s swear him in before someone else snaps him up!”

    • The Supreme Court vacancy debacle is one of the things I keep forgetting about in the midst of all the other details around this election.

  12. Just wanted to share two links that might lessen people’s anxiety about the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president. First, the New York Times’ daily prediction of who will win the election (which has Clinton currently standing at an 86% likelihood of winning, up from numbers in the 70s a few weeks ago):

    And second, an aggregator of electoral vote projections, just about all of which show Hillary as already having the 270 votes she needs:

    I honestly believe that enough people have come to their senses with Donald Trump’s true colors shining through that Hillary will prevail.

  13. I’m not sure why I was surprised when Trump complimented Justice Scalia, but I was. Him saying he’ll appoint more like Scalia has made this election feel even more hellish.

    • tromp è omofobo razsta porco e se non lo fermate cari americani affonderete con lui posto di scalia mettera uno che rformera tutto specialmente omosessuali afro americani ecc..neanche trump è americano puro perche siete tutti figli di coloni inglesi..francesi irlandesi spagnoli..ecc i veri americani sono gli indiani che avete messo nelle riserve perche ognuno di voi non è vero americano.e poi trump manda via la moglie visto che slovena….SVEGLIATEVI AMERICANI IO AMO AMERICA MA NON TRUMP CHE AMICO DI PUTIN VEDRETE TUTTE LE VOSTRE LOTTE DOVE FINIRANNO…vi fate incantare da un miliardario fallito 3 volte e ripreso perche non paga tasse per una legge che avete che aiuta i ricchi..SVEGLIATEVI italia uno cosi non lo guardava nessuno..voi siete strani ma non piangete dopo…se guardate tutte le guerre eran bocca al lupo trump…

  14. What he said about Pence’s position really infuriated me. Pence’s position was on of strategic value that both parties would get behind. Instead Donald refused to listen to anyone but the voices in his head and declare Pence’s position wrong. The man has no respect even for his own running mate at this point.

    Oh and remember something, as President Hillary may do good or bad. But if she does bad and your republican friends complain about her tell them this. Listen you had your chance to elect a fair and balanced candidate with the right temperament and qualifications. Instead you voted for Donald. The worse candidate in the history of politics. He is so bad the Devil or even Ted Cruz would have had a better chance. You did this, quit your complaining.

  15. I really feel sad for all the readers commenting on this article because they seem to be out of touch with reality because they are missing the revolution that is taking place throughout the entire western world. It’s about regular people from all walks of life, ethnicities, sexual orientations and whatever, that want to take back government. That government will no longer be a playground for the elites where money and power is exchanged, but is reinstated to once again serve, not rule its people. Importantly, serve all the people, not just individuals or big corporations rich enough to pay for influence.
    Donald trump is the voice of that revolutionary movement and HRC is the face of the corrupt elites that want to keep their party going at the playground. In case you want to get a glimpse of the playground, just take a look at the releases by wikileaks. One example from those releases is the uranium one deal where 20 % of Americas Uranium is sold the Russia after Bill, Hillary and their cronies at the foundation received millions of dollars from Russian interests. Uranium is a strategic asset in a ( unfortunately) nuclear world. That is a clear example of jeopardizing national interest for special interest. If you want a government that protects its people and provides the necessary conditions for prosperity of its people than you should join the movement and jump on the trump train. There might be some things that you don’t like about Donald trump, but at least he is not planning to perfect the globalist dream of a borderless world where only big corporations can thrive and where national interest is no longer even a concept. It will be a world where big money and special interest rule at the expense of average people.
    Therefore my analysis is that, however saddening since I am a lesbian, that our vote as people should only be based on the fundamental need to have a government for and by the people. We should not be tempted to vote for a candidate that has more liberal tendencies because we rightfully expect that candidate to have a more positive stance towards gay rights. The concept of being able to marry the ones we love becomes irrelevant when we are subjected to a government that infinitely jeopardizes the interests of people for special interests. And to your comfort: Do we seriously believe that a New York Businessman who roles with the entertainment industry is fundamentally opposed to gay rights? I don’t think so. He might just very well be the most pro gay candidate of this race entirely because HRC is caught on tape opposing gay rights not so long ago.

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