The Second US Presidential Debate: Observations and Analysis

Letters to the Editor | October 10, 2016, Monday // 17:28
Bulgaria: The Second US Presidential Debate: Observations and Analysis Democrat Hillary Clinton (R) and Republican Donald Trump (L) during the second Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, US, October 09, 2016. EPA/BGNES

Novinite is publishing a comment by our reader Mr David Hampson on the second debate between US presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which took place in Saint Louis, Missouri at 20:00 CDT on Sunday.

David Hampson has worked in the US Government, Academia and the Private Sector. Working in the private sector and for the U.S. Government, David has undertaken projects in South America, Africa and Europe. For the last seventeen years he has concentrated his focus on South Eastern Europe from a base in Bulgaria. His focus has concentrated of assisting Direct Foreign Investment to the region and working on a number of large investment projects including the privatization of the Bulgarian National Telecom where he served as the Senior Advisor on the ground, to three Chief Executive Officers.

His piece about the previous debate between Trump and Clinton can be found here.

In my comments on the first debate, despite Trump’s dismal showing, later confirmed by all the reliable polls, I closed by saying that just as Obama and Reagan before him had poor first debates they had bounced back in the second debate and this was still possible for Trump. I also noted that the level of vitriol would rise.

I however, like most others, was not anticipating the release of a tape capturing a statement by Trump on his interaction with women, which he later has claimed, was nothing more than “locker room banter”. The effect on his campaign has raised extensive pressure from many inside his own party with large numbers of prominent Republicans withdrawing their support and even suggesting he step down as the candidate. Perhaps as important for him as the race draws into the final stage is the drying up of financial support.

For the first twenty minutes, he was consumed by defending himself from the charges profiled on the tape and by switching the conversation to Bill Clinton, ISIS and any other distracting item coming in to his head. It was clear that while he issued an apology for his taped comments he was seeking to try to offset the damage that had done to any chance of extending his base at this time, particularly from women voters. Unfortunately for him Clinton while responding on the tape issue also pointed out that that his previous statements about women, Muslims, handicapped, minorities and the range of denigrating remarks that seems to have been a part of his campaign repertoire.

Clinton herself was not as dominant as in the first debate, talked less but as previously appeared more effective talking policy or defending her own record with facts and successes. She seems a little uncomfortable with Trumps style of hovering and moving around the stage while she was talking. Other observers have commented that he gave the impression of “lurking”. With the “town hall” format for the debate Trump was able to at times neglect the question and answer from his own agenda. It was clearly evident that Trump was talking to his base that 14 plus million he gathered during the primaries.

But just as Trump was beginning to settle into rhythm he went off target with a tirade that may well brand him as totally out of line with the US political acceptance. He stated that if elected he would instruct his Attorney General to pursue an investigation aimed at putting Secretary Clinton in jail for her actions on maintaining her own e mail server which has caused perhaps her most criticism during the campaign. This type of threat totally plays to his base of support but will backfire with mainstream voters and may well indicate how and with what judgment he would lead the United States. He did not seem aware that even if elected President the prerogative of that office would not allow him to act in this way. It did however play back to his nomination event and the encouragement of the chant of many of his supporters of “lock her up”. Many Republicans are switching their emphasis from Trump to support the “down ticket” candidates running for the Senate or the House of Congress who could get swept along by a serious defeat for Trump and by attachment the Republican Party. Other voters from both parties are shocked by his implicit threat to Clinton, behavior resembling that of failed state politicians and indeed should be considered as highly troubling.

So how did the polls treat the debate? Once again, Clinton was declared the winner by 57% to 34%. Men voted in favor of Clinton 49% to 38%. Women voted in favor of Clinton 64% to 30%. Reference attack behaviors Trump was measured to have delivered 68% of the attacks to Clinton’s 16 %.

The demographics of the US have changed substantially in recent years. Due to realities of these changes, it is making it increasingly difficult for a Republican candidate to prevail. It may well have been  nstrumental in catapulting someone like Trump into the candidate position he now owns. The party of Lincoln needs to broaden its base to become inclusive if it is to seriously contend in the future.

Many Republican leaders understand this need. They must now act.

Many Americans are shocked by the current developments profiled by the ongoing election. While the British have had their “Brexit”, I do not see the Americans following suit.

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Tags: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, US elections

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