DISCLAIMER: Graphic language and references to abuse
Republican Donald Trump is running for President of the United States of America, but if you didn’t know that, you might think he were a third-world autocrat. That’s because events at the presidential town hall debate on the Sunday before Canadian Thanksgiving included a threat to jail his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton if he is elected.
During what has been described as one of the most hostile debates in modern history, Trump and Clinton traded insults and allegations. Both candidates had a clear message: their opponent is not only a bad politician, but a bad person.
Trump alleged that his opponent did nothing while her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had sexually abused various women, while Clinton alleged that Trump himself was an abuser.
Her point was especially relevant as a recording of Trump making shocking statements about his desire to “grab [women] by the pussy” had been released just two days earlier.
The recording scandal – dubbed “Pussygate” by the media – was also addressed by moderator Anderson Cooper at the beginning of the debate, but Trump deflected the questions, talking about ISIS. Trump later reiterated his defense of his words as “locker-room talk”.
At another point, as he stood next to his female opponent, he said “nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
The most shocking event of the evening was an exchange between the candidates about Clinton’s email scandal, in which over 30 000 emails were leaked from the private server she used as Secretary of State. Clinton rejected Trump’s vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal, saying it would be a mistake to “put him in charge of the law in our country”.
“Because you would be in jail”, said Trump. His interjection sparked an uproar in the audience, who variously expressed joy and dismay at his reply.
At a few points, the candidates took questions from a “town hall” of undecided voters.
In response to a Muslim woman’s question about Islamophobia, Trump said that Muslims have a duty to report any wrongdoing they see, an eerily similar policy to the “barbaric cultural practices hotline” advanced by the Conservative Party’s Kelly Leitch last year.
Trump also expressed a desire “to appoint judges [to the Supreme Court] very much in the mold of Justice [Antonin] Scalia”. Scalia, who consistently ruled against women’s rights cases, as in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and against gay rights cases, as in Lawrence v. Texas, died in February, leaving a vacancy in the Court. The moderators of the debate were a gay man (Cooper) and a woman (Martha Raddatz).
Thankfully, the debate wasn’t all barbs and bickering.
Social media took notice of an undecided voter with an interesting name: Ken Bone. Bone, who was dressed in a bright red sweater, was instantly elevated to meme status, and some media outlets even joked that he had won the debate.
In the final moments of the debate, the candidates were asked to take a break from insulting each other, and instead pay each other compliments.
Clinton praised Trump’s five children from his three marriages, saying they are “incredibly able and devoted” and that she thinks “that says a lot about Donald”.
“I will say this about Hillary,” replied Trump. “She doesn’t quit … she’s a fighter”.
Written By: Colin Golding