Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton "the devil" and a "liar" who doesn't have the judgment to be president. Hillary Clinton said Trump has insulted nearly every American during his campaign and makes up facts to divert voters.
To say it was a ugly night would be an understatement.
The second presidential debate Sunday night came after a weekend of lows for both campaigns. On Friday afternoon, WikiLeaks released documents that showed Clinton seeming to tell Wall Street leaders she supported free trade across the globe but would explain a different view to Americans concerned about losing their jobs. Trump had to respond, meanwhile, to a video released Friday by the Washington Post that showed him debasing women.
The town hall in Virginia opened with moderator Anderson Cooper prodding Trump about his 2005 remarks about sexually assaulting women. "That is sexual assault. You bragged that you committed sexual assault," Cooper said, before asking if Trump understood the implications of what he said.
"I didn't say that at all. I don't think you understood what was said. This was locker-room talk. Certainly I'm not proud of it. But this is locker-room talk," he said. "If you look at Bill Clinton... there’s never been anyone in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women...Hillary Clinton attacked those same women, and attacked them viciously, four of them here tonight... I think it’s disgraceful, and I think she should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth."
Pushed harder about whether he condones sexual assault, Trump denied that he had ever assaulted a woman and explained away the rhetoric as casual banter between men. "It’s just words, folks. It’s just words. Those words I’ve been hearing them for many years," he said.
Shortly before the debate, Trump held a surprise press conference on Facebook Live with four women who have for years accused Bill Clinton of sexual assaulting them. During the debate, Clinton did not answer a question about accusations against her husband. She instead said Trump was deflecting because he didn't want the public to focus on his vulgar remarks.
"What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women. What he thinks about women, what he does to women... I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is. Because we’ve seen this throughout the campaign. We’ve seen him insult women. We’ve seen him rate women on their appearance," Clinton said.
"So, yes, this is who Donald Trump is. But it’s not only women.. Because he has also targeted immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities," she said, referring to several scandals that have popped up during the 2016 election.
The Washington Post released video Friday of a 2005 conversation between Trump and TV host Billy Bush about women. "You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait," Trump said to Bush. "And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything."
Clinton repeatedly dismissed Trump by saying he frequently makes up facts and lives in an "alternate reality." But nearly every time she tried to focus on her ideas for the U.S., she was asked about her own scandals or forced to respond to Trump's attacks.
"I know you are into big diversion, anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way Republicans are leaving you," she shot at Trump, referring to a growing number of GOP leaders who have said they no longer support Trump and want him to drop out of the race.
At one point, Clinton was asked about her paid speeches to Wall Street, which were released Friday by WikiLeaks. The speeches claim politicians need a public and private view on divisive issues. Clinton responded that President Abraham Lincoln also presented different arguments to different constituencies in his push to end slavery.
"I was making the point that, yes, it is hard to get Congress to do what you’re trying to do," she said.
Trump responded: "Now she’s blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe."
Pundits and media leaders largely gave the victory to Trump after Clinton was declared the winner of the first debate. With the candidates close in swing state and national polls, many noted that American voters were the real losers following a night full of personal attacks.
"Mrs. Clinton tried to stay above the fray but ended up getting dragged into some uncomfortable exchanges about her email usage as secretary of state and her husband's alleged infidelities and indiscretions," the Wall Street Journal wrote.
A New York Times reporter said Republicans may be forced to rethink their stance aganst Trump after the debate. "I’m very interested to see, if this is considered a win for Trump, what all the Republicans who jumped ship say. Presumably they cannot get back on board," wrote Alan Rappeport.
The Guardian declared Trump the winner. "Trump managed to not only go toe-to-toe with Clinton, he often got the best of her," the site wrote.
Politico's headline concluded: "Ugliest debate ever." Politico seemed to favor Clinton's performance, noting: "In one of Trump’s shakiest moments, he demonstrated his inability to answer specific questions on foreign policy, as Raddatz repeatedly pressed him on Syria... In the final half hour, a frustrated Trump started the blame game, claiming the moderators were unfairly allowing Clinton’s answers to run long while he was being repeatedly cut off."
In the crucial swing state of Florida, the Miami Herald said Trump arrived ready for a fight. "Trump, who was criticized after the first debate for missing opportunities to bring up Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified material as secretary of state, came prepared this time. He reminded the audience of her missing emails repeatedly, and when she said that the country should worry if Trump were ever responsible for overseeing its laws, he was ready with a retort," the newspaper wrote.
An Atlantic headline read: "Donald Trump's Disastrous Debate." "Clinton is a weak candidate, with a train car’s worth of luggage trailing behind her. But Trump is weaker still, and at every turn, he seems to overshadow her problems with much deeper problems of his own—much louder gaffes, much more serious political errors," the site wrote.
Between the barbs, policy occasionally drove the conversation. Trump and Clinton briefly debated their opposing views on Obamacare, whether to admit Syrian refugees and how to stop the Assad regime in Syria.
Trump said he wants Muslims to report terrorism within their community, which Muslim leaders say they already do, and said he will closely scrutinize Muslims entering the U.S. Clinton, he said, can't be president, because she has bad judgment.
"People are coming into our country, like we have no idea who they are," Trump said. "This is going to be the great Trojan horse of our time."
Clinton said she will defeat ISIS with a coalition with majority Muslim nations. "We are not at war with Islam, and it is a mistake, and it plays into the hands of the terrorists, to act as if we are," she said.
The debate ended on a positive note after an audience member asked the candidates to say one nice thing about each other. Clinton noted that Trump had a strong relationship with his children, while Trump said Clinton was a fighter.
"She doesn't quit. She doesn't give up. I respect that. She's a fighter," he continued. "I disagree with much of what she's fighting for, I do disagree with her judgment in many cases. But she does fight hard, she doesn't quit, she doesn't give up, and I consider that to be a very good trait."