Sleaze and drama swirl at US presidential debate

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went toe to toe Sunday in their second presidential debate, clashing over crude remarks by the billionaire Republican — who vowed that if elected he would jail his opponent over her email use as a secretary of state.

Trump dredges up Bill Clinton

After holding his tongue in the first debate, Trump assailed Clinton’s husband Bill, reminding television viewers about a string of accusations of sexual misconduct, including one of rape, leveled against the former president decades ago.

Fighting the backlash against his 2005 hot mic remarks in which he was caught saying he can grope women because those with celebrity status can “do anything,” Trump’s point was clear: a certain Clinton has done more than just talk.

“Mine are words, his was action,” he said, claiming that there has “never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women.”

In a pre-emptive strike before the debate, Trump met with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of unwanted sexual advances, including Juanita Broaddrick, who claims Clinton raped her in 1978.

Driving up the tension, the women were seated in the audience during the debate, as was Bill Clinton himself.

‘Locker room’

Trump entered the showdown at the nadir of his 16-month campaign, walloped by the release Friday of a leaked tape that captured him saying vile things about women.

In the debate’s opening minutes he dismissed them as “just words” and “locker room talk.” Clinton disagreed.

“He has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is,” Clinton, standing just a few feet from Trump, said calmly. “But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is, because we’ve seen this throughout the campaign.”

Trump acknowledged he was “embarrassed” about his comments. “But I have tremendous respect for women.”

Asked directly if he had done the things he mentioned in the video, Trump said: “No, I have not.”

But Clinton once more questioned Trump’s fitness for the Oval Office, saying it was not just the video that raises concerns about him.

“He has also targeted immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, Muslims, and others.”
Jail time

Clinton’s emails are not going away in 2016. Trump highlighted them in the debate, claiming that her use of a private server while she was secretary of state, and the sending of sensitive national security data, was grounds for imprisonment — and that he would ensure she served time.

“If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation, because there’s never been so many lies,” Trump fumed. “It’s a disgrace.”

Clinton responded by saying it was “awfully good” that someone with Trump’s temperament was not running the country.

“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump interrupted, in the most extraordinary outburst of the evening.

The author: Michel DEURINCK

Michel Deurinck, born in Brussels in 1950, started his career in the Belgian civil service, dedicating over 30 years to public service. Upon retirement, he pursued his passion for journalism. Transitioning into this new field, he quickly gained recognition for his insightful reporting on politics and culture. Deurinck's balanced and thoughtful approach to journalism has made him a respected figure in Belgian media.

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