Like I did for the first presidential debate, I’ll be writing a running commentary on tonight’s debate, which has the potential to be unlike any other in the history of the presidential campaigning in the United States. All times are US Eastern Standard.
8:47 — Last time I tried this, I somehow missed Trump’s snide comment on possibly not having paid federal taxes — “that makes me smart” — which became the signature sound bite of the debate. Also didn’t catch Trump’s constant sniffling. I’d probably be more observant if I wasn’t drinking, but I’m not gonna get through these next 90 minutes without some help.
8:53 — Been an interesting last few days, since the publication of that video where Trump bragged about sexual assault. Earlier tonight, Trump conducted a press conference along with four women who’ve accused Clinton’s husband of sexual assault. Never ceases to amaze me how, so far anyway, all attempts to smear Hillary for her role in enabling Bill’s misconduct have backfired; will be interesting to see if that trend continues.
9:04 — Before this gets started, I have to marvel at the format of this debate. Two candidates, one of whom will be elected to the most powerful position on the planet, taking direct questions from voters.
9:05 — The candidates arrive, and they don’t shake hands. That sound you hear is some pundit’s head exploding.
9:08 — Clinton speaks of optimism, Trump says the country’s in the ditch.
9:10 — Anderson Cooper follows up the first question by bringing up that video from Friday (Trump supporters will go nuts); Trump somehow brings Medieval Times into his response, and launches his first sniff. He’s doing his best to brush off his words as locker-room talk (“they’re things that people say”); he’s not doing a good job.
9:17 — Trump brings up Bill Clinton’s crimes, and he’s sniffing like a coke fiend
9:19 — oh you take the low road, and I’ll take the high road, and we’ll get through this damn debate by midnight.
9:22 — the Sniffer is not backing down; full attack mode. Clinton’s not backing down.
9:25 — moderators are not letting Clinton get away from the email server controversy; good for them
9:28 — Trump is rude and petulant (“it’s one on three”); there’s no other assessment
9:31 — Clinton responds to a complaint about Obamacare by talking about its benefits, which seems like a knee-jerk, tone-deaf response. Trump’s response may not be good policy, but may be more effective politically. In response to a follow-up question, Clinton again deflects and avoids.
9:36 — as she listens to Trump, Clinton smiles in a way that seems smug and condescending
9:39 — didn’t expect that Muhammad Ali reference tonight. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
9:45 — what the heck was that pointy thing Trump just did? Complaining about the amount of time Clinton has to respond? Moderators give in to his whining, and he goes on a lengthy rant.
9:47 — moderator brings up the Wikileaks revelation of Clinton’s speech; Clinton responds by talking about a great Spielberg movie, then suggests Wikileaks is working with the Russians to get Trump elected.
9:51 — Trump just said he doesn’t know Putin or anything about Russia; investigative reporters across the country are going to have a lot of fun with that. And I need another drink.
9:56 — when Trump talks, Clinton sits; when Clinton talks, Trump paces, and at times looks like he just wants to walk away
10:00 — Anderson Cooper just slapped a STFU on Trump
10:06 — Trump promises to escalate the nuclear arms race with Russia; when can this guy go away?
10:08 — Trump just said he disagreed with his running mate’s statement on Syria; I don’t see how Pence can continue supporting this guy
10:13 — Trump’s been complaining about the moderators all night; nobody said running for President would be fair. I would, however, like to see stats on the amount of time each candidate ran over their allotted limits.
10:17 — Clinton made a good decision by not taking the bait Trump offered on her “deplorables” remark. Cooper brings up that remark in his follow-up question, and she wisely offers and quick apology and directs her response to Trump’s rhetoric.
10:21 — Cooper asks Trump about the 3 AM tweet about Miss Universe’s sex tape; he says he didn’t say anything about a sex tape in his tweet. Fact checkers must love this guy.
10:24 — a question about Supreme Court justices. Clinton wants someone with real-life experience, whatever that means. She also wants justices who will uphold abortion rights and marriage equality; Trump declares he wants people who will support gun rights, then questions why she hasn’t contributed to her own campaign (whaaaaa?)
10:34 — great question to end the debate; what’s one thing you respect about the other? Clinton says she respects his kids (for being able to survive their father, I guess); Trump says he thinks she’s a fighter, which is one of traits I also admire about her.
10:37 — and they end by shaking hands.