ST. LOUIS — The second presidential debate got off to a particularly icy and ugly start Sunday night as sex talk dominated the first part of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s televised showdown here at Washington University.
A sign of how personal the race has become: the nominees avoided shaking hands at the beginning of the debate.
After Trump and Clinton both fielded — and largely ignored a question — about whether they feel like are modeling appropriate behavior on the campaign trail, they were asked to discuss the recently released 2005 video of Trump’s vulgar conversation about a female television host.
When moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump about the remarks, Trump said: “This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.”
The Republican then tried to pivot to talking about ISIS, saying there are “much more important things and much bigger things” to focus on.
On Friday afternoon, The Washington Post published video from 2005 of Trump having a vulgar conversation in private with then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush. In it, Trump used graphic language to describe his unsuccessful attempts at sleeping with a female television show host.
Given a chance to respond Sunday, Clinton said: “What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women. And he has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is but I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.”
Before the debate, a major question was whether Trump would use the occasion to draw attention to women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety and Hillary Clinton of attacking them.
Just hours before the debate, Trump appeared with Bill Clinton accusers Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones. Also appearing with Trump was Kathy Shelton, a rape victim who has criticized Hillary Clinton for serving as the rapist’s defense attorney.
While Clinton attacked Trump on the video, Trump’s campaign blasted an email to reporters titled: “Hillary Clinton’s Horrible Treatment Of Women.” It referenced Jones, Broaddrick and Wiley.
Trump brought the women up during the debate: “Bill Clinton was abusive to women. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously. four of them are here tonight.”
The debate hall applauded when Trump said: “Think it’s disgraceful and I think she should be ashamed of herself if you want to know the truth.”
Clinton responded to the specific allegations by saying: “So much of what he just said is not right.”