I'll be live-blogging the debate here.
Of course, this will be the first debate since the public heard Donald Trump's 2005 comments about how he approaches women he finds attractive.
Earlier this evening, Trump had a public appearance, which he called a "debate prep," with women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sex offenses. Apparently, they'll all be in the debate audience.
As usual, I'll be doing this without a pause/rewind button, so any quotes might not be verbatim, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate, and I might go back and correct some of them later.
More live-blogging at TPM and National Review.
9:06 — An audience member asks both candidates if they think they're "modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today's youth." Hillary Clinton goes first. "Our country is great because we're good." She emphasizes her "positive and optimistic view" of what the country can do, and overcoming "divisiveness." This is a bland answer; she doesn't take the opportunity to attack Trump explicitly. Donald Trump also starts his answer to the same question in a positive way: "I agree with everything she said!" Then he segues into some of his standard points about Obamacare, the Iran deal, the deficit, and inner cities — none of which answers the question.
9:10 — Anderson Cooper reminds us of the question, and brings up the tape: "You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals — that is sexual assault." Trump denies saying that or ever doing "those things" (Cooper's words). Trump says he was "embarrassed" and "apologized" to his family and the American people, then pivots to talking about ISIS chopping off heads.
9:13 — Clinton responds: "What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about ... what he thinks about women, what he does to women. . . . I think it's clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly what he is. Because we have seen this throughout the campaign. We have seen him insult women. We have seen him rate women from 1 to 10." She then connects this to Trump targeting "Muslims, immigrants, people with disabilities, POWs." She says "America is already great" — an obvious rejoinder to Trump's slogan, "Make America great again" — and repeats her statement about America being "great" by being "good."
9:16 — Trump has a weak rebuttal: "It's just words, folks. It's just words." [Video of the first 11 minutes.]
9:18 — "If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words — his were actions. . . . There has never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation who's been as abusive to women." Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of mistreating those women, and laughing about how, as a defense attorney, she won a case defending a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. Trump points out that that girl, and Paula Jones, who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault, are in the audience (as is Bill himself). "I think it's disgraceful, and I think she should be ashamed of herself." Clinton is given 2 minutes to respond, but doesn't address those charges at all. It turns into a free-for-all, with both of attacking each other for a litany of things — Trump's mocking of a disabled reporter, Clinton's "acid-washed" emails, etc. Trump promises to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton.
9:24 — Clinton: "It's just awfully good that the someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of this country." Trump: "Because you'd be in jail!"
9:25 — Clinton is asked about her emails. She of course calls it "a mistake," but emphasizes that an investigation found no evidence that her email was hacked or caused classified information to "get into the wrong hands."
9:28 — Trump brings up Bill Clinton's conversation with the Attorney General by an airplane while Hillary was under investigation.
9:29 — Trump gets into a back-and-forth with Anderson Cooper about Trump interrupting Clinton. She says: "OK, Donald! I know you want diversions, because your campaign and the way it's exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you."
9:30 — An audience member asks about health care, and Clinton says it seems like "Donald wants to go first." Trump says: "No, you can go first Hillary, because I'm a gentleman." (He's dropped his approach in the first debate of calling her "Secretary Clinton.")
9:34 — Trump says Clinton "wants to go to single-payer, which means the government basically runs everything. . . . Obamacare was the first step."
9:34 — Anderson Cooper asks Hillary Clinton about Bill Clinton's comments about Obamacare being "crazy." "Was his mistake just telling the truth?" Clinton says no, he later "clarified" what he meant — although that's not particularly clear.
9:37 — Trump is asked how he'd make do on his promise to let people with pre-existing conditions get health insurance. Trump says he'd do it by getting rid of "lines" around states. He also calls Obamacare "a fraud," bringing up President Obama's false promise that if you like your plan, you can keep it.
9:38 — A member of the audience who's Muslim asks Trump about fear of Muslims. Trump: "Muslims have to report the problems when they see them. . . . If they don't do that, it's a very difficult situation for our country." Trump adds that Clinton can't solve the terrorism problem if she's not willing to say the words "radical Islamic terrorism." Clinton comes back that it's "short-sighted and even dangerous to be engaging in the kind of demagogic rhetoric Donald has about Muslims," which is "a gift to ISIS."
9:42 — Trump is asked if the "Muslim ban" he proposed last year is "still [his] position." He says it "has morphed into extreme vetting." On Syrian refugees, he says: "We know nothing about their values, and we know nothing about their love for our country." Martha Raddatz asks Clinton why she'd dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees brought into the US. Raddatz expresses skepticism of whether the vetting would work, but Clinton claims it would be "as tough as it needs to be."
9:46 — Trump is aggressively policing whether the moderators are letting him go over his time as much as Clinton, whether they're interrupting the candidates equally, etc. This is sure to excite his base but seems unlikely to win over independent voters.
9:48 — Clinton is asked about her leaked comment in a speech that "you need both a public and a private position on some issues." She says it was inspired by Abraham Lincoln: "He convinced some people with some arguments, and other people with other arguments."
9:53 — Trump says he pays "hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes," and he'd be "proud" to release his tax returns.
9:53 — An audience member asks how they'd change the tax code so that "the wealthy pay their fair share." Trump: "I'd give up carried interest provisions — for people like me." He points out that if Clinton thinks he hasn't paid enough in taxes, she should have changed that while she was in power. "She is raising your taxes, and I am lowering your taxes." Trump says our "GDP" is about "1%," although he clearly means we have about 1% growth; the GDP is a monetary amount, not a percentage.
9:56 — Clinton responds: "Everything you've heard from Donald Trump is just not true. . . . He lives in kind of an alternative universe." She says Trump would raise taxes on the middle class and give money to the rich, even more than George W. Bush's tax cuts did. "Donald always takes care of Donald and people like Donald." Trump retorts: "Hillary Clinton has friends who want all of these provisions! . . . With her, it's all talk, no action." In response to Trump saying she was an ineffective Senator, Clinton points out that she was a Senator when the president was a Republican — "under our Constitution, presidents have something called veto power."
10:06 — I've zoned out a little as they've discussed foreign policy. When Trump brings up Obama's infamous "red line" comment about Syria, which he failed to act on when Syria later used chemical weapons, Clinton says she was no longer Secretary of State by then. [Added later: Clinton was Secretary of State when Obama made the comment, but not when Syrian used the weapons a year later.] Trump comes back: "Sadly, Obama listened to you. I don't think he'd listen to you much anymore."
10:10 — Trump criticizes Obama for letting the enemy know where we're going to attack weeks in advance, allowing them time to leave. Martha Raddatz inappropriately steps out of her role as moderator and starting arguing with Trump over this: "There are reasons the military does that — psychological warfare."
10:14 — A rather abstract question from an audience member: "Do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?" Trump says he would, in contrast with Clinton, who calls his supporters "deplorable" and "irredeemable" — "she's got tremendous hatred!" Trump says Clinton was "a disaster" for upstate New York as Senator, but Clinton shoots him down while laughing: "Well, 67% of the people voted to elect me when I ran for my second term!" Clinton answers the audience member's question by quoting a young boy whose family immigrated here from Ethiopia, who wrote to her asking if he'd be deported under a President Trump.
10:22 — Anderson Cooper asks Trump if it's presidential to tweet about a "sex tape" at 3:00 a.m. Trump connects this to Benghazi and Clinton's 2008 ad about being ready to take a "3 a.m. phone call."
10:25 — In response to a question about Supreme Court nominations, Clinton says: "I want to appoint Supreme Court Justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience." She wants a Justice who'd overrule Citizens United, and uphold Roe v. Wade and marriage equality. Trump says he'd choose someone "in the mold of Justice Scalia," who'd "respect the 2nd Amendment."
10:29 — An audience member asks how they'd balance our "energy needs" with the environment. Trump emphasizes the former: "The EPA is killing these energy companies." Clinton starts her answer with an attack: "China is illegally dumping steel in the United States — and Donald Trump is buying it for his business."
10:34 — The last question: "Name one positive thing that you respect in one another." Clinton says: "I respect his children. His children are incredibly able." But she hastens to add: "I don't agree with anything else he says or does!" Trump: "She doesn't quit. She doesn't give up. I respect that. She's a fighter. I disagree with much of what she's fighting for . . . but she does fight hard."
At the beginning of the debate, the candidates noticeably refrained from shaking hands, which they had in the first debate. At the end, they briefly shake hands before walking over to their families.
About an hour into the debate, Josh Marshall, a Democrat, said:
This is a very different debate. The first 15 or 20 minutes were terrible for Trump. Since then he's done much better. It's hard to evaluate Trump because his manner is so caustic. But just in the most basic sense he's got in his key attacks against Hillary. So that's different. He does seem more prepared than he was on round one.Peter Beinart, the former editor of the New Republic, says:
hate to say it but I think [Trump] staunched his campaign's collapse tonight. Until the next big scoop . . .This assessment by Mark Antonio of National Review seems right:
Trump camp think they won the night -- they did. But they're still losing the war -- tonight didn't change that.My mom, Ann Althouse, points out that it wasn't much of a "town hall" debate.