Round Two: Clinton vs Trump− the choice is clear for Americans

On Monday, October 10, the second of three US Presidential debate was held between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Republican and Democratic candidates respectively. This debate was not watched by as many people who tuned in to watch the first one. Nevertheless, this in itself was a historic event because of the number of people who tuned in to watch the second debate. But this debate was unique in many ways. If it was not clear by the first debate who would win the election on November 8, it became very clear after the second debate who would become the 44th President of the US.

Two days before the second debate, a bombshell video-taped conversation appeared in the media showing Donald Trump bragging in the most vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. In the 2005 video conversation, Trump, referring to his sexual encounters with women, was heard saying on a hot microphone that “when you’re a star, they let you do it”. In that audio, Trump discussed a failed attempt to seduce a woman. He said that “I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.” The video was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania. In the conversation, Trump was egged on by another reporter. The comments about exactly where he would grab women is too vulgar to repeat here.

No doubt the American media was all over this story, especially since it appeared two days before the second debate. One by one, elected Republican leaders in Congress condemned Trump for his statements. They took the unprecedented step of withdrawing their support for Trump. Even his vice presidential running mate Mike Pence, condemned Trump’s statement.

In an attempt to stop the defections, and to keep his supporters on his side, Trump issued a half-hearted apology which showed him reading from a teleprompter. Trump has been criticized in this campaign for derogatory and lewd comments about women, including some made on TV and live radio, as well as a series of disparaging remarks he made about Muslins, Mexicans and a handicapped reporter.

This was the backdrop to which the second debate was held. From the get go, the candidates refused to shake hands, and throughout the debate they traded barbs and insults. Each were fighting their own demons. Hillary Clinton appeared shaky and could not effectively defend her actions regarding the deletion of thousands of emails, some confidential, while she worked at the State Department. Most people expected Trump to apologize at the outset in his opening remarks, but this was not to be. He did, however, make arrangements for several of Bill Clinton’ sexual harassment accusers to sit in the audience during the debate.

Now that the debate is over, it seems that Trump is given some credit for stemming the tide of defection and loss of support from establishment Republicans. But some Republicans are jumping ship and may vote for Clinton. Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in the U.S. Congress, took the extraordinary step of distancing himself from Donald Trump, stirring a backlash from some lawmakers and deepening a crisis over his party’s struggling presidential nominee. Ryan said he will not campaign with Trump and he is advising Republican candidates to go at it on their own.

National public opinion polls show Hillary Clinton now ahead with as much as 11 points ahead of Trump. Even in swing  states where the race was almost statistically tied, Clinton has moved ahead. It is safe to say that she will win the election in November. When all is said and done, it is likely that more scandals may rock the Trump campaign between now and election day, given the candidate’s flair for off the cuff remarks and his long history of being associated with reality  television shows.

Clinton has the election in the bag. She can smile all the way to the White House. Trump will continue to unravel and self destruct. Republicans can hope to get as many Republics elected to Congress so they can block major Democratic legislations. They have another 4 years to get their act together…without a Donald Trump.

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