As if this election hadn’t defied political norms already.
When Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off in St. Louis Sunday night, they made charted new ground in presidential debate history.
The debate, of course, didn’t happen in a vacuum. Trump was standing on stage after a brutal 48 hours where members of his party– including his own running mate–were racing to distance themselves from him. On Friday, a video had surfaced showing Trump vulgarly describing how he “moved” on women. By Saturday he’d actually lost congressional endorsements.
On stage, however, the debate included even more bizarre fireworks. There was plenty of discussion of ’90s scandals and a major party’s nominee defending himself for talking about grabbing women by their genitals.
The candidates didn’t shake hands as they walked on stage and what transpired over the following 90 minutes pushed the 2016 deeper into the abyss.
Trump Said He Would Sic His Attorney General On Clinton
Telling your political opponent that you are going to sic the Justice Department on her and throw her in jail is something we haven’t seen before. In the U.S., there is a tradition to fight and fight hard over political difference, but discussions about locking up those you disagree with is a frightening proposition.
“If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception,” the Trump told Clinton. “We’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you’ve done,” Trump continued, referring to her use of a private email server as secretary of state. “And it’s a disgrace and honestly, you ought to be ashamed.”
Clinton noted that it was probably good that the U.S. didn’t have leaders who could be enraged enough to sic the AG on his political opponents.
“Because you’d be in jail,” Trump said.
Shortly before the second presidential debate began, Donald Trump held a press conference with three women who had accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.
Using Facebook Live, Trump sat with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey briefly. He also invited Kathy Shelton, who had accused a man Hillary Clinton defended of rape when she was 12 years old.
But that wasn’t all. During the debate, Trump said outright that whatever he had said was nothing compared to what Bill Clinton did.
“Never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women, so you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women,” Trump said. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”
Donald Trump Hasn’t Talked To His Running Mate About Their Split On Syria
In a bizarre moment Sunday, Trump admitted that he had not talked to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – his running mate– about their apparent split over Syria policy.
During a vice presidential debate Tuesday, Pence said he would want the U.S. to intervene militarily if Russia continued its aggression, an apparent departure from Trump’s previously stated position.
“Okay. He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree,” Trump said.
“You disagree with your running mate?” the debate moderator asked.
“Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS, Trump said.
Clinton Reminded Trump That His Party Was Abandoning Him
Clinton was trying to get back to talking about policy Sunday night, but she thought Trump was stalling.
That is when she reminded voters watching at home that throughout the previous 48 hours, Republican lawmakers had been disavowing Trump one after another.
“Okay, Donald, I know you’re into big diversion tonight, anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you,” Clinton said.
It was just a stunning reminder of how the Republican Party was truly at war with itself.
Trump Had To Apologize At a Debate For Saying He Grabbed Women By The P***y
One of the alarming pieces of the debate was the very plain fact that a major party’s nominee had to address a national audience and apologize for crude comments he made about women in 2005. The comments had shaken the Trump campaign and divided the Republican Party. They were so offensive that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had uninvited Trump to appear with him in an event in Wisconsin.
Of course, Trump couldn’t just apologize Sunday. He claimed that it was wrong to talk about it when there was ISIS to worry about.
“This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family. To the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk,” Trump said. “When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have frankly drowning people in steel cages, wars and horrible, horrible sights all over, so many bad things happening. We haven’t seen anything like this. The carnage all over the world.”
That video kind of speaks for itself.