66.5 million people. The hottest talking point in the days preceding the debate was the so-called “Trump Tape,” a recording depicting Republican nominee Donald Trump making lewd remarks about sexually assaulting women, to now suspended, Today Show host, Billy Bush on an ‘Access Hollywood’ bus in 2005. On the tape, Trump bragged about kissing women without permission and grabbing their genitals, adding that, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”
Following the release of this inflammatory video, many high profile Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, governor of Ohio John Kasich and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have publicly disavowed Trump, along with many more stating that they will not vote for him in November, and others calling for him to step down from the ticket entirely. Trump has since tweeted that he will never quit.
The debate, after riding in on this fresh new wave of controversy, proved to be a heated and exciting back-and-forth between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The question of how the Trump Tape would be addressed was answered when moderator Anderson Cooper directly asked Trump whether he understood that he had bragged about sexual assault. “Locker room talk” , a phrase that many of Trump’s hardline supporters have used to minimize the severity of the issue, was mentioned before he went off on an unrelated tangent about ISIS. Clinton, in her response, told the American people that these tapes show exactly the man that Donald Trump really is.
The rest of the night was filled with sniffling, interruptions and even more controversial remarks, with the occasional policy discussion mixed in. It was very hard for Clinton to finish a response or answer a question without Trump chiming in. Trump would later talk about the alleged bias of the debate, referring to the fact that he was consistently called out by the moderators for interrupting Clinton and that he was getting asked about his controversies while none of Clinton’s scandals were being brought up. These concerns were raised very shortly after a question about the infamous email scandal had been addressed and answered by Clinton.
In one of the most repeated quotes of the whole ordeal, Clinton expressed her relief that someone like Trump was not in charge of the laws of our country, whereas he responded by saying that Clinton would be in jail if he was. Many reporters later compared this remark to something one would hear in a third-world country, where the incarceration and elimination of political opponents was common, rather than something that should be heard coming from a United States presidential candidate.
In the final question was from an audience member, Karl Becker, who asked the candidates to name one thing they respected about each other. This question represented more than just a nice end to the debate; it was a rare glimmer of genuine mutual respect and a breath of fresh air in an election cycle dominated by scandals and mudslinging.
Clinton praised Donald’s children and said that they reflected very well on the Republican nominee, while Trump said that he admires the way the Clinton never gives up no matter what she’s fighting for. It was a positive conclusion to an overwhelmingly negative debate; the American people will just have to wait and see if any of this positivity carries over to the final presidential debate on Oct. 19.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and are not representative of The Slate or its staff as a whole