The predication that Donald Trump would self-immolate in tonight’s second presidential debate proved to be wishful thinking on the part of the Democratic faithful. The Trump campaign lives to see another day!
With all the negative press surrounding Trump following the release of the now infamous Hollywood Access “sex” video, many analysts thought this topic would consume the debate and prove fatal for Trump.
Yet very little time was spent on the video or Trump’s treatment of women. The reason for this is that the debate was held in a town hall format where audience members ask prepared questions of the candidates. Many different questions were asked; many different topics were discussed.
The most interesting question of the night came at the very end of the debate.
Carl Becker asked the candidates, “Regardless of the rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”
Hillary Clinton answered first. “I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald,” Clinton said.
For his part, Trump paid a huge compliment to Hillary, whether wittingly or not. The man who loves winners and fighters said, “I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that.” Trump called his opponent a “fighter.”
To me this was a most unexpected answer from Trump. I had to ask myself if I really heard Trump’s words correctly. I did.
I don’t know how that answer will play with a base that believes Hillary is the devil incarnate, but Trump’s gracious, seemingly sincere compliment might sit well with many undecided voters or independents. But not enough, I believe, to swing the momentum of the race in Trump’s favor.
One could almost see the Clinton camp preparing an ad with Trump’s kind words being used against him.
Whether the Access Hollywood video will continue to have legs going forward remains to be seen. Whether more unflattering tapes from Trump’s past are made public also remains in doubt but, with the many videos of Trump over the years, you can bet it’s a good possibility.
Rejoice. There will be a third and final debate!
Photo | chicagotribune.com/Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA