Highlights of the Second Presidential Debate

Photo courtesy of Comandode Tomás Hirsch, Wikipedia

The second of three presidential debates took place Sunday night, highlighting the candidate’s connection to the voters through a town hall format. With questions moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, proclaimed “undecided voters” formed an audience for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the candidates.

"The second debate disappointed me. The facts were so disorted – it was difficult to discern fact from fiction," Michael Pacheco, senior, said.

The debate covered a series of voter-prompted questions beginning with one focused upon the candidates’ composure during the previous debate. This led to a follow-up question regarding the recently released tape of Trump discussing what he has called “locker room banter.” Trump responded by apologizing, and tried to downsize the issue by discussing ISIS.

“Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. 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. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment. And I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS,” Trump said.

Clinton, however, was also questioned about her email scandal, bringing another hot-button topic to the foreground.

“I take classified materials very seriously and always have. When I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was privy to a lot of classified material. Obviously, as secretary of state, I had some of the most important secrets that we possess, such as going after bin Laden. So I am very committed to taking classified information seriously. And as I said, there is no evidence that any classified information ended up in the wrong hands,” Clinton added after apologizing.

With the apologies out of the way, the debate covered topics such as the Affordable Care Act, Islamophobia, tax provisions and the current situation in Syria and Aleppo.

Trump gave his plan for Syria first:

“I think you have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran, who she made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and a very rich nation, very, very quickly. Very, very quickly,” Trump said.

This caused controversy, as the moderators pointed out that this was different than Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, had described during his debate.

Clinton was also afforded the opportunity to describe her plan.

“I would not use American ground forces in Syria. I think that would be a very serious mistake. I don’t think American troops should be holding territory, which is what they would have to do as an occupying force. I don’t think that is a smart strategy,” Clinton said.

The night ended with what seemed to be an unorthodox question from the audience—a request for each candidate to express what they liked about the other, bringing a lighter side to the rather tense atmosphere. This however, seemed less about politics and more about the candidates themselves.

“People are watching the debate for entertainment—not to learn more about the candidates. I don’t think I’ve learned anything new about their policies or views. I’ve watched the debates and all they’re doing is defending themselves against the new trendy controversy that’s been exposed,” Michelle Santucci, senior, said.

Students who are still undecided will have a third and final chance to hear from the presidential candidates on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 9 p.m. as they debate for the last time before the election.