The BUNS Guide to the Second Debate

Photo composite: Allie Wimley and Peter Smith
Written by BU News Service

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump are set to square off tonight in the second presidential debate.  BU News Service staff weigh in on what to watch for tonight. And join us for live blog coverage of the debate at 9 p.m.

Republicans call for Trump to drop out following release of 2005 video

Erin Wade

The Washington Post released Friday a video of Donald Trump having an “extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005,” causing numerous Republicans to call for Trump’s withdrawal from the 2016 presidential race.

In response to the video, Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said in a statement Saturday: “I do not condone [Trump’s] remarks and cannot defend them.”

Sen. John McCain officially withdrew his support for the candidate Saturday evening, saying he and his wife, Cindy, would “write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be President.”

CNN also released a collection of audio recordings Saturday afternoon that were taken from interviews between Trump and Howard Stern, wherein Trump makes sexually explicit and demeaning remarks about women, including his daughter, Ivanka.

Trump told The Washington Post Saturday he would not drop out of the race, but the weekend’s scandals will certainly be a fixture during Sunday’s 90-minute town hall-style debate.

Clinton, Trump Take On Town Hall Format

Andrea Asuaje

Donald Trump’s campaign continues to teeter since the Republican’s first debate against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Between the New York Times article exposing how Trump may have evaded paying taxes for nearly two decades and the Washington Post’s story detailing his sexually explicit comments from 2005, Trump has had to prepare for an unfamiliar debate format while trying to put out numerous fires with only a month until Election Day.

The town hall-style debate is basic in concept — the candidates answer questions directly from the audience — but incredibly complicated in practice. As Jeff Greenfield wrote in an Oct. 8 article in POLITICO, the format is “almost designed to highlight just about every weakness of character and temperament of the Republican nominee.” Remember, this is an audience of undecided voters, which means Trump’s usual audience of energetic, enthusiastic supporters will not be there to cheer him on. Can he successfully adjust his style to the format? The town hall format often calls for candidates to show how relatable and approachable they can be while still demonstrating their policy knowledge and leadership experience to both the audience in the room and those watching from home. Can Trump conquer the town hall?

More importantly, can he beat Clinton in this particular style? She, too, has to prove herself here as a trustworthy candidate who can connect with voters who may find her shady. Clinton, who was often referred to as over-prepared for the first debate, needs to reach out and engage audiences in order to get undecided votes — and perhaps questioning Trump voters — to cast a ballot for her in November. She, too, needs to own the town hall format in order to keep her current base. And with the recent leak of Clinton’s emails detailing several speeches she gave to Wall Street executives, she really needs to nail the format in order to keep her Main Street constituents in her corner.

That Other Thing That Happened This Weekend: the Podesta Emails

Sarah Toy

On Friday, Wikileaks posted what it claimed was 2,000 emails from Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta’s account which contained excerpts of speeches flagged as potential fodder for her political opponents, including some she gave at events hosted by Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. This was quickly overshadowed by the release of the Trump video.

It will be interesting to see how Trump spins things on Sunday. In a statement released on Saturday meant to address the video, Trump said, “Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

“We will discuss this more in the coming days,” he said. “See you at the debate.”

Although the narrative of Clinton’s behavior toward her husband’s accusers in the ’90s haunts her to this day, Trump might want to stay away from blaming the former president’s issues with women on his wife. It’s a risky strategy that could turn off more female voters — something he can’t afford right now.

He might choose to focus on the Wikileaks emails instead. If used shrewdly, they could serve as powerful ammunition and distract from Trump’s own scandal. In a 2013 speech at Banco Itau, Clinton said she dreamed of open trade and open borders, a very touchy subject. In another speech, she said that “you need both a public and private position” in politics, which could add to her perceived lack of transparency. During a Goldman-Black Rock event in 2014, she shared about growing up in the middle class but also said she was now “kind of far removed” because of the fortunes she and her husband enjoy today. This could make her look out of touch.

However, Trump has a pattern of relapsing into boorish, childish behavior when he feels attacked. Clinton will likely try to goad him, and who knows? She may get a pass on this one.

How much political talk is expected? 

Eesha Pendharkar

After the first presidential debate, people are still unclear on what stands the candidates have taken on important matters like education, immigration, and correcting the racial and gender bias. Trump and Clinton spoke a lot, but most of it was insults and jabs at each other’s incompetencies. After Clinton’s Wall Street speech being leaked and Trump’s crude comments about women being the top story, will the second debate be all about taking the opponent down for these two candidates?

The fights in this election do not seem to be about opposing views on policy but the past lives of two very public figures. While this happens, people remain unclear on what either of the candidates will do once they get to the White House. Clinton is very well-versed in policy, but Trump has been highly successful at diverting her from technical talk with his jibes. With Trump recently criticised for his tax returns and his comments about women, he seems to have taken the offensive through his half-apology, half-warning and is expected to bring up Hillary’s history with her husband when Bill Clinton was president.

Will the audience get its political questions answered or will it be another night of insults? It looks like the chances for the latter are unfortunately higher.

Second Presidential Debate Promises the Spotlight on the Trump Tapes 

Shannon Golden

After a weekend filled with scandal surrounding the two candidates, the second presidential debate is sure to be filled with defense tactics from both Clinton and Trump. From Trump’s inexcusable comments about women to Clinton’s leaked speeches where she admitted she’s in support of “open borders,” the debate will be filled with plenty of finger-pointing.

Debate moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz will most likely have their hands full tonight keeping control during the town hall-style debate. The debate is meant to give an opportunity for undecided voters to ask questions to the candidates and for issues to be discussed that the people want to hear.

Trump has stated that he will come out stronger than ever against Clinton in the second debate, and that is what he will have to do if he hopes to keep voters on his side. With the release of the “Access Hollywood” recording, many are disgusted at Trump and calling for him to end his campaign. In order for Trump to stand a chance in this race, he needs to convince the American people that he is sincerely sorry and that those comments do not reflect him as a person.

Trump will have new ammunition to use against Clinton with more emails leaked containing paid speeches where she praised “open trade” and “open borders.” Clinton will have to keep the heat on Trump and his recent comments. She will most likely try to display him as a man that is not representative of this country who doesn’t respect women. Clinton wants the female vote, and this is a way she can work towards that.

Tonight’s town hall-style debate is intended to allow undecided voters a chance to be heard and interact with the candidates but, instead, will most likely be consumed by the latest headline scandal.

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