Following the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump met again for the second presidential debate Sunday. The discussion spanned multiple controversial topics, including the education system, the cost of healthcare, and both candidates admitting one positive attribute about the other.
The debate was moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz. Additionally, 40 uncommitted voters from the St. Louis area were there to directly ask the presidential nominees questions. The “town hall” layout of the stage centered around the presidential nominees and encouraged an intimate discussion on prime topics.
Susan MacManus, National Political Analyst and USF Political Science professor, attended the debate and offered her own analysis.
“What was disappointing, most of all, was the fact there was hardly a town meeting in its true sense,” she said. “There were very few audience questions. Hardly ever got a close-up look, of their reactions.”
When both Clinton and Trump took the stage, both acknowledged the audience yet failed to shake hands.
The first question focused on the educational system on today’s youth, questioning both candidates if they are modeling appropriate behavior.
“Making sure we have the best education system from preschool through college and making it affordable,” Clinton said. “If we set those goals and go together to try to achieve them, there’s nothing America can’t do.”
The first question of the night proved to be the first area of common ground the candidates offered the public.
“Well actually I agree with that,” Trump said. “I was tired of seeing such foolish things happen to our country … My whole concept was to make America great again. I look at all the things this country has, and we have such tremendous potential.”
However, the civility soon disbanded as the two moved on to more polarized topics.
Both Trump and Clinton have pre-existing controversies that challenge their campaigns. The release of an audio file of Trump using “locker room” talk with Bill Bush, then of “Hollywood Access” back in 2005, which surfaced this weekend was discussed liberally and Clinton’s emails — which were determined to be mostly personal with and classified as top secret — continually came under attack throughout much of the debate.
The candidates were asked to comment on the current federal healthcare system and what changes they would make to it if elected.
When asked what each candidate will do to make healthcare more affordable, Clinton responds first.
“I’m going to fix it (The Affordable Care Act) because … premiums have gotten too high: copays, deductibles, prescription drug costs and ” she said. “I have laid out a series of actions we can take to get those costs down … if we start over (repeal) benefits are lost to everybody. My goal is to get us to 100 percent, and keep costs down and quality up.”
While Clinton posed a plan that would offer minimal changes to the current healthcare program set up by President Barack Obama, Trump proposed eliminating Obamacare all together.
“Obamacare is a disaster … we have to repeal it and replace it with something absolutely much less expensive and something that works,” Trump said.
Meanwhile, throughout the debate, moderators and voters asked the nominees additional questions regarding “islamophobia,” immigration, the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the prioritized qualities in appointing a new Supreme Court Justice.
MacManus said she looked over the actual time difference of how much each of the candidates spoke and found that there was less than a minute between them. She said that while the candidates seemed to be putting “everything but the kitchen sink” in their answers in order to cover all their bases, both spent the evening going through their stances and talking points from the campaign trail.
“They each made strong points on various topics,” MacManus said. “In terms of demeanor, he interrupts, she doesn’t. She tried very hard not to make facial expressions even when she was feeling strongly about certain things. But she reflects what we all know, that women behave a little differently before a camera than men.”
However, she felt it wasn’t a “slam dunk” for either candidate. In her opinion, the debate could have been enhanced if the uncommitted voters were able to pose more questions and their responses were more visible. She said, they were “like plants on the stage.”
Toward the end of the debate, the candidates were posed a unique question: what is one thing you respect in one another?
“I respect his children,” Clinton said. “His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that. I think that is something that as a mother and a grandmother that is important to me.”
Trump took a different approach to answering the question by speaking about Clinton’s perseverance.
“I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit,” he said. “She doesn’t give up. I respect… She’s a fighter, I disagree with much of what she’s fighting for. But she does fight hard and she doesn’t quit and doesn’t give up and I consider that to be a very good trait.”
MacManus said the question itself was refreshing in a political battle that has been widely controversial and polarizing within the country.
“Thank goodness, this is the first positive question we seen out of any of the presidential debates,” she said. “Try to make America feel good about their Presidential candidates.”