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ANALYSIS: Winners and losers in the second Presidential Debate

Moderator Martha Raddatz, people of Syria make up tonight's over and under

Donald Trump and and Hillary Clinton on stage during the second debate between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off in their second debate on Sunday night, this time before actual voters in a town hall-style affair at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

With Trump’s lewd tape and a new set of leaked Clinton speeches dominating the political conversation for nearly a week, the debate offered a chance for each candidate to redeem themselves.

Here’s the winners and losers in tonight’s debate:


Martha Raddatz

While Raddatz shared moderator duties with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the veteran ABC News reporter stole the show. In one performance, Raddatz single-handedly put all previous moderators of 2016 election debates to absolute shame.

She was forceful and prodding. Raddatz insisted that Trump and Clinton answer questions they so artfully dodged. When they went over time or acted out, Raddatz shut them down. She reminded them of the rules, and for the sake of the American people, she demanded each candidate follow them.

Clinton and Trump will continue to slug it out, bare-knuckled and determined, and we need moderators like Raddatz to keep them at bay.

A+ for Raddatz tonight.

The audience

As far town hall-style debates go, the clear winners are always the voters in the room. The format empowers real Americans to push the nominees for real answers on some of the most pressing issues. Allowing them to ask the questions instead of bleary-eyed reporters changes the entire dynamic of the debate.

Clinton and Trump were forced to look Americans dead in the eyes when answering tough queries about their personal records and fitness for the presidency.

Sunday’s audience did not fail in the pursuit for truth and clarification, even if the candidates refused to directly answer their questions.

“The Bait”

Both Clinton and Trump dangled proverbial worms in front of the other, trying to incite a wild gaffe. At first, the candidates showed little interest in taking “the bait.” After Trump’s terrible performance in the last round, the was stacked against him to stay calm.

Within 10 minutes of the debate, tensions finally flared. The pair gave into their worst instincts by breaking character and exchanging heated words.

They fought and bickered in what should have been a much more substantive debate than the last. Instead, the nominees wasted time trying to make the other blink first.

They had an obligation to themselves and voters to take the high road. Trump and Clinton did the opposite.

It was apparent that a weeks worth of damning smears finally took its toll.


The people of Syria

The subject of the Syrian Civil War was a hotpoint tonight. In this section, we heard voters express disgust and shame in the way President Barack Obama and other world leaders approached the war.

One question likened the situation to Nazi Germany’s advances into other countries and the genocides that followed. This dark time needed a quick response, and both candidates vowed to finally take action. The big difference was, again, a matter of approach.

Clinton doubled-down on her calls to directly engage Russia in talks to end the war. She said we must stand firm with leverage against the Kremlin to find a political solution. The alternative, Clinton said, was a protracted proxy war between the two countries that could turn hot soon.

Trump took the opposite stance, saying that Syria’s war wasn’t the issue. Trump said the focus should be on ISIS, and that their expulsion from the region would pave the way to peace between Russia and the U.S.

However, in one revealing remark, Trump said that “Aleppo has already fallen. Syria is Russia now.”

He essentially conceded defeat to Vladimir Putin’s hold over Syria in one sentence.

If both candidates believe war is inevitable with either side, the real losers are the innocent people of Syria caught in the crossfire. At least 470,000 people have died in the war between 2011 and 2016. Clinton and Trump’s plans told Syria that it should expect more loses in the years ahead.

Bill Clinton’s accusers/Trump’s political pawns

This should break any human’s heart, no matter who you support for president.

If the accounts of Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults are ever proven true, that means the former president is just as guilty as Trump when it comes to the sexual abuse of multiple women -- if not more.

Whether those accounts are substantiated or not, these women have been through the worst kind of hell as potential survivors of sexual assault. What Bill may have done to them is deplorable, and he should feel all the guilt in the world.

What is infinitely more disturbing is the way Trump’s campaign used these women on Sunday evening.

Trump set them up as political landmines. Hours before the debate, Trump paraded these women around in front of the press for favor. Later, he sat them in the front row, in front of both Clintons and their daughter, just to make them squirm.

Even with their expressed consent, he preyed on these women’s need for justice and equity to make a political point of the lowest form.

What’s next?

Clinton and Trump will debate a final time at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The debate is hosted by University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Moderators include Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace.

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About Ben Solis

Ben Solis is the Managing Editor of Central Michigan Life. He has served as a city and university ...

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