The three presidential debates have been controversial and wildly entertaining as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump compete for the trust of American voters.
The first and arguably most important debate was moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt. When asked about a comment he made about Mrs Clinton’s presidential “look”, Mr Trump repeated the remark and added “she doesn’t have the stamina” to be president. Mrs Clinton replied “as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, he can talk to me about stamina”.
When discussing the war in Iraq, Mrs Clinton said Mr Trump “supported the invasion of Iraq”. Mr Trump interrupted, saying “Wrong” and claimed the suggestion was “mainstream media nonsense”. On Mr Trump’s failure to release his tax return, Mrs Clinton asked if there was “something he’s hiding”. Mr Trump’s response was that he would release his tax returns if Mrs Clinton released her deleted emails. “I made a mistake using a private email,” Mrs Clinton said before Mr Trump interrupted “That’s for sure.”
Mr Trump criticised Mrs Clinton’s experience in office and said she failed to improve the lives of Americans. When she tried to defend her record, she was interrupted by Mr Trump. Mrs Clinton then continued with “Excuse me, Donald, I know you live in your own reality,” before finishing her answer.
A CNN viewer poll said that 62 per cent of voters thought Hillary won, compared to 27 per cent who thought Mr Trump was successful.
The second debate, moderated by CNN‘s Anderson Cooper and ABC‘s Martha Raddatz, began with a frosty greeting between the nominees who did not shake hands. When discussing the recently emerged 2005 video of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women, he responded it was “locker room talk” and that he “was not proud of it”.
“I have great respect for women; no one has more respect for women than I do,” he said.
Mr Trump then said if he wins he will “instruct [his] attorney-general to get a special prosecutor to look into [Mrs Clinton’s] situation”. Mrs Clinton responded that it was a positive that Mr Trump was not in charge of the law, to which Mr Trump shockingly fired back “Because you’d be in jail.”
When asked about how to stop the spread of Islamophobia Mr Trump began talking about “radical Islamic terrorists” who were linked to US terrorist attacks. Mrs Clinton responded “We are not at war with Islam. It plays into the hands of terrorists to act as though we are.”
The debate ended with a compliment for each other, as requested by a member of the audience. Mrs Clinton said she respected his children while Mr Trump said his opponent doesn’t give up and the two shook hands at the end of the debate.
A CNN viewer poll said Clinton won with 57 per cent compared to only 34 per cent support for Trump’s performance.
The third and final presidential debate was moderated by television anchor and political commentator Chris Wallace. Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump refused to shake hands at both the beginning and end of the debate. Mr Trump, who has repeatedly alleged the election is or will be rigged, suggested he would not accept a result in favour of Mrs Clinton. “I will look at it at the time,” Mr Trump said. Mrs Clinton responded that his claim was “horrifying”.
Both candidates said their job growth plans would not add to the national debt. The topic of abortion was also raised with Mrs Clinton focusing on Mr Trump’s past comments condemning it. “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother,” he said.
Mr Trump stuck by his policies on immigration and denied any relationship with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. He also denied accusations that he had sexually assaulted several women. Mrs Clinton cited Russian espionage and Mr Trump’s encouragement of it. “(Putin) would rather have a puppet as president of the United States,” Mrs Clinton said. Mr Trump replied “You’re the puppet.”
According to a CNN viewer poll Mrs Clinton won the third presidential debate by a 13-point margin.
The election will be held on November 8, 2016. – Samantha Besgrove and Nikolina Matijevic
Screengrab from PBS News Hour video on YouTube.