Trump and Clinton Debate: Analysis


We analyzed the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump in live time. Here are the highlights, and what happened when Mr. Trump held a news conference with Bill Clinton’s accusers. Plus, our fact checks. For more, sign up for our email updates.

  1. Good evening, all. Donald Trump held a surprise press conference with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault over the years.

  2. Trump held the press conference with what he called “four very courageous women” who had asked to be with him.

  3. He tweeted that this was his final debate prep, with a Facebook Live.

  4. Paula Jones, whose claims helped lead to the Monica Lewinsky discovery, began speaking.

  5. Next was Kathy Shelton, who was 12 years old when she said she was raped. Hillary Clinton, a public defender in 1975 in Arkansas, defended the man accused of the crime.

  6. Clinton was caught chuckling as she described her client’s guilt on an audio tape obtained by the website The Washington Free Beacon years ago.

  7. “Bill Clinton raped me, and Hillary Clinton threatened me,” said Juanita Broaddrick, who said there wasn’t “any comparison” with what Trump said in a recording with Billy Bush, then the host of “Access Hollywood.”

  8. Shelton said Clinton put her through something that no 12-year-old should have to go through.

  9. “Why don’t you all ask Bill Clinton that?” Jones said, when asked about Trump’s words on the tape. There was applause, and then the audio feed was cut.

  10. This was not a full press conference for the media – there was a scramble among those who were there.

  11. It was the pool reporters who cover Trump.

  12. Trump sat flanked by two women on each side.

  13. If anyone was wondering how ugly tonight is going to get, Trump just answered it.

  14. Quite a stunning way to “prep” for the second presidential debate.

  15. When he was asked by a reporter, “Does your star power allow you to touch women without their consent?” Paula Jones responded that the question should be directed toward Bill Clinton.

  16. Earlier today Rudy Giuliani suggested that Trump would not bring up Bill Clinton’s history of infidelity. This suggests otherwise.

  17. Trump’s campaign advisers have repeatedly told him that he should only bring up the issue of accusations against Bill Clinton if Hillary Clinton criticizes him for comments he has made in the past.

  18. This was a stunning grenade that he just threw.

  19. Alan, I think the question is whether the Trump campaign gives these women the campaign’s tickets in the debate hall.

  20. Certainly this is not the kind of thing that someone who is feeling contrite or humbled by what happened this weekend would do.

  21. Perhaps he will still stay away from this stuff during the debate, but just wants to get into Clinton’s head in the last hour.

  22. On the video, Trump’s campaign chairman, Steve Bannon, can be seen grinning at the back of the room. The website he took a leave from, Breitbart, published an interview with Broaddrick today.

    Donald Trump Highlights Breitbart Interview With Clinton Accuser

    Donald Trump Highlights Breitbart Interview With Clinton Accuser

    Donald J.

  23. She has been among the most vocal of women who have accused Bill Clinton in the past during the course of this campaign.

  24. ABC News’ John Santucci says on Twitter that Jones, Willey and Broaddrick will be in the debate hall, presumably as guests of the Trump campaign.

  25. It isn’t clear whether Kathy Shelton will be.

  26. But her story is incredibly painful — she was raped at age 12, and has had a very difficult life.

  27. The audio of Clinton talking about defending her attacker in 1975 was unearthed by The Free Beacon.

  28. Shelton is a fairly unfamiliar name to a public that has heard about Clinton and women for the last 25 years.

  29. Hillary Clinton wrote in passing about the case in her book “Living History.”

  30. Glenn Thrush, a reporter at Politico who was then at Newsday, went to Arkansas and dug up the case files, and found that the case was a bit more complicated than Clinton had described in her book.

  31. Photo

    Preparations at Washington University in St. Louis for the second presidential debate. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
  32. It’s an interesting window into how Trump prepares for big moments. Some people might meditate, listen to some music or have a light meal before a debate. He hosted a surprise panel with Clinton accusers.

  33. What remains to be seen is whether Trump raises this or points to these women in the hall.

  34. Several people have noted today that Trump previously expressed sympathy for Hillary Clinton over her public marital problems.

  35. Besides the personal stuff, it will be interesting to see what Trump makes of the leaked Clinton campaign emails. They showed her being cozy with Wall Street and embracing free trade.

  36. Those revelations have been overshadowed by Trump’s vulgar video, but it is the kind of thing that would have been damaging to her in the primary against Sanders.

  37. Is there any chance he’s doing it now so that he doesn’t have to deal with the uncomfortable challenge of bringing these kinds of things up in front of an audience of regular voters tonight?

  38. Or alternatively, to try to put Mrs. Clinton off guard.

  39. It has been a pattern for Trump to avoid confrontation in person and then lash out from a distance. This could be another example of that.

  40. Although he went pretty hard after Rubio and Jeb Bush on the debate stage.

  41. The Clinton campaign just put out a statement calling Trump’s panel of accusers a “stunt.”

  42. “We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Clinton.

  43. One thing I’ve learned is never to try to predict what Trump might do, for obvious reasons. Especially when he’s under a lot of strain, which I presume he is tonight.

  44. Our colleague Pat Healy has just confirmed that Mr. Trump has invited the four women to sit in the debate hall during the 90-minute event, according to a Republican familiar with the invitation.

  45. Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are also expected to be in the hall watching the debate.

  46. Hey everyone – signing on a little late tonight. Did I miss anything?

  47. Just another quiet night in Trump land, Nick.

  48. My night so far is a metaphor for this whole campaign. Put down your phone for half an hour …

  49. Well, one question from my pre-debate write up is now answered: Trump did go nuclear.

  50. Against the advice of a lot of Republicans.

  51. It is hard to be surprised. What other way of changing the game did Trump have?

  52. Before you came on, I was wondering if this might just be a pre-debate gambit and whether he won’t want to bring this up before an audience of regular voters.

  53. I am going to guess he will. But as Alan pointed out earlier, Trump has a habit of chickening out in these encounters.

  54. He might not be able to stop himself.

  55. Or maybe he’ll go on, again, about how he was thinking about bringing all of this stuff up but decided otherwise.

  56. Nick, I am totally with you – he is going scorched-earth and burning it all down.

  57. That having been said, I wonder whether Trump will say any of this to Clinton.

  58. And he is basically doing exactly what Republican establishment supporters asked him not to do, right?

  59. Yes, the remaining establishment supporters wanted him to mention these women only reactively – meaning that if Clinton went after him about the recording, they advised him to show humility and bring this up only to make a point.

  60. He’s bringing it up beforehand, and also will have all four women in the hall.

  61. According to the pool report, Trump just arrived at the debate hall.

  62. For those of you just joining us, Donald Trump held a surprise press conference with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault over the years.

  63. This is all making Rick Lazio walking over to her podium in the 2000 debate look genteel.

  64. As someone who began his reporting career the year Bill Clinton was impeached, I am really struck by the sense of vertigo in these accusations.

  65. Three of these women’s allegations against Clinton were widely discussed and, in both the proverbial and sometimes the literal sense, litigated at the time, while he was president.

  66. We don’t really have many more facts or answers now than we did then, although we have some. And after his impeachment in the House and acquittal in the Senate, it seemed like a large part of the country wanted to “move on,” as the slogan at the time had it.

  67. But of course, nothing moved on for these women.

  68. Now they have an avenger–a deeply flawed, toxic avenger, who has virtually no moral standing of his own on these issues, but someone who is willing to use his bully pulpit to drag our public discussion back twenty years, like it or not.

  69. Nick, a few thoughts on this.

  70. There is a lot of complaining about the destruction of cultural mores in the era of Trump, and he has, to be sure, shattered a number of political and social norms.

  71. That said, the reality is that the most comparable defection by elected officials during a personally-focused scandal – as we are seeing with Trump – was Bill Clinton after the Lewinsky affair was discovered.

  72. It is easy to forget now, because his popularity went up during the Bush years.

  73. But at the time, Democrats defected in large numbers.

  74. It didn’t matter to him, but Democrats were deathly afraid of what the impact would be on the party.

  75. Tim Kaine was among the people who were critical of Bill Clinton.

  76. In fact, I believe Tim Kaine said his behavior was “beneath the dignity of the office.”

  77. And suggested that he believed at the time that Clinton ought to resign.

  78. Bill Clinton just walked into the hall, with a not-pleased look on his face.

  79. These women who accused Bill Clinton of sex crimes are sitting in the front row of Trump’s campaign seats.

  80. What a tableaux in the debate hall: Trump’s daughters-in-law in a row with Bill Clinton’s accusers.

  81. The basic issue, to continue, is that Bill Clinton is not on the ballot. His wife is.

  82. Thus the focus Trump has put on Hillary Clinton as an “enabler” of her husband’s misconduct.

  83. The way that Trump executed that press event was different from the way his longtime informal adviser Roger Stone, who wrote a book about this topic, had advocated.

  84. As we saw when she first ran for Senate, that’s not an easy case to make against her. I’ll never forget when Tim Russert asked her directly about this at a debate. She came across as a very sympathetic figure.

  85. Also, if this is at all predictable, Trump will be asked right out about the recording, and he either will or will not refer to the three women in the room. We will know soon.

  86. For those of you just joining us, Donald Trump held a surprise press conference with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault over the years. Here’s our story.

  87. There’s a thin line between asking Hillary Clinton her opinion of her husband’s conduct and insisting she be held accountable for it.

  88. No handshake!

  89. I had heard there was a debate in the Clinton campaign as to what she should do regarding the handshake.

  90. Back to my point about Stone, he had said that Trump should make clear that the issue was these women saying that they were abused and that Hillary Clinton had harassed them. And my understanding was that he had said that if the women endorsed Trump, it would look political.

  91. They did endorse Trump.

  92. What was the decision on the handshake? Take it if he offers it to her?

  93. There hadn’t been a decision, the last time I heard.

  94. Stating the obvious, doing these kinds of events in front of live audience voters like this is tricky. You have to play to a lot of audiences at once.

  95. Back to what’s happening on stage right now:

  96. Clinton was asked a question about setting the right tone for children.

  97. A stagecraft note: Clinton positioned herself so that Trump would be visible behind her. She asked a question of the questioner.

  98. “Are you a teacher?” Appeared to guess correctly.

  99. Top five topics on Facebook just before the debate started, per a press release:

    1. Trump Tape
    2. WikiLeaks Release
    3. Crime & Criminal Justice
    4. Government Ethics
    5. Iraq, Syria & ISIS
  100. And Anderson Cooper goes in for the kill, asking directly about the tape.

  101. Trump says he’s apologized to his family and he is “not proud of” his comments.

  102. Anderson reminds the audience that what Trump described was not banter, but sexual assault.

  103. But also disputes Cooper’s question, which was a statement that his comments were about “sexual assault.”

  104. He somehow went from talking about the tape to ISIS beheadings.

  105. Photo

    Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
  106. “It’s locker-room talk,” Trump says, then tries to pivot to issues.

  107. If you are not watching on TV, the question asked is held below the screen. In this case, while Trump goes on and on about ISIS while a question about his sexual conduct is floating on the screen below him.

  108. Trump does NOT want to talk about this tape; those reports of long apologies seem wrong, so far.

  109. Clinton is saying that she thought long and hard about Trump’s comments, and that they reflect her view that he is not fit for office.

  110. Clinton is not steering away from this topic, which may or may not result in Trump pointing to the women he invited to the hall.

  111. If he did debate prep, this is one moment he should be ready for.

  112. It appears Clinton wants him to launch.

    1. Read more

    2. And she is making the most of the time she has. But she does not sound as confident as she did two weeks ago.

    3. There is no topic that her aides have a harder time discussing with her than her marriage, as has been the case for 24 years.

    4. Trump asks to respond, and says: “It’s just words, folks. It’s just words.” He talks about Clinton not bringing jobs to upstate New York, which was a campaign pledge in the 2000 Senate race.

    5. So far he hasn’t brought up her marriage; I’m sure she’s worried he will. As I recall at the first debate, she started off shaky and got better at the end.

    6. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said that Obamacare is leading to insurance rate increases that are “astronomical.”

      Not “astronomical,” but pretty darn high.
      Read more

    7. Trump gets a question from a voter about the Billy Bush recording.

    8. Here we go, folks.

    9. These two moderators are fully focused on getting an answer out of Trump on this. But also they are carefully undermining Trump’s spin.

    10. And we are nuclear.

    11. Trump is now talking about Bill Clinton’s accusers, and mentions Kathy Shelton, the 12-year-old rape victim whose accused attacker was represented by Clinton as a court-appointed public defender in 1975.

    12. There’s applause in the hall for Trump as he calls the Clintons’ actions “disgraceful.”

    13. We are now just 19 minutes into this debate. A lot more to go now that the nuclear winter is upon us.

    14. Clinton dodging this – getting onto the high road, quoting Michelle Obama: “They go low, we go high.”

    15. She is just ignoring his jab.

    16. Photo

      Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    17. And reminding the audience that Trump is the guy running for president right now.

    18. I’m wondering whether or not she will say what she has in the past about her marriage being troubled, and working through the troubles.

    19. The whole country once again gets to hear who Sidney Blumenthal is, as Trump calls on Clinton to apologize for her campaign starting the birther controversy.

    20. I hate saying stuff 21 minutes in, but this might be the single most negative debate I’ve seen.

    21. Trump says that if he wins, he will instruct the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton.

    22. This is enormously galvanizing to a Trump base that deeply dislikes Clinton.

    23. It will not help him win over new voters, most likely.

    24. I wonder if Clinton practiced the expression on her face right now.

    25. Nick, I was wondering the same thing. You have to assume yes.

    26. But to the extent that his campaign is really crippled right now, he doesn’t seem to care.

    27. Clinton says it’s good that Trump isn’t in charge of the laws in the country, and Trump responds, “Because you’d be in jail.”

    28. That’s a pretty good comeback. But also false.

    29. Unless Trump was planning on overruling his own F.B.I.

    30. Jonathan Martin, our colleague, wrote a piece in 2011, when Trump considered running for president against President Obama, describing Trump as a stand-in for G.O.P. base voters who wanted to see someone take the fight to Obama.

    31. There are plenty of base Republican voters who want to see him take the fight to Clinton.

    32. And he is.

    33. But you can’t win an election with just base Republican voters any more.

    34. Trump wandered a bit earlier, but he is a lot more cogent now.

    35. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      When Mr. Trump was asked whether he has kissed women or groped women without consent, as he claimed on a recently released video, Mr. Trump said no, he had not.

      It’s been alleged by multiple women.
      Read more

    36. The other thing I wonder about is this – Clinton’s campaign has gotten very used to her being seen as a sympathetic figure when someone goes after her on issues related to Bill Clinton, primarily after the Lewinsky scandal.

    37. But I don’t know that it rallies the same number of supporters to her side anymore, after so many decades.

    38. Trump is really on the attack over the emails, in a way that he did not in the last debate.

    39. Yes, Adam, he is doing what he should have done in the first debate.

    40. And he actually knows the details this time. This is what he prepared for.

    41. Trump is now attacking Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz.

    42. There’s the smackdown: Clinton says “anything to avoid talking about” how his campaign is exploding.

    43. Trump just accused the moderators of not bringing up the emails. Not true. Raddatz actually asked a question about it.

    44. Yes, a question was the first time it was raised.

    45. The visuals of the debate right now are Trump just over Clinton’s right shoulder, behind her.

    46. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump accused Mrs. Clinton of laughing about getting a man acquitted of raping a 12-year-old girl.

      Not true.
      Read more

    47. Clinton now outlining her plan to tweak Obamacare, walking that fine line between explaining all the things she likes about the program while empathizing with the ways it has gone haywire.

    48. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Former President Bill Clinton was impeached, lost his law license and paid an $850,000 fine to Paula Jones.

      Mostly accurate.
      Read more

    49. FACT CHECK Hillary Clinton

      Mrs. Clinton said there was no evidence her email has been hacked by a foreign power.

      Read more

    50. Trump using Bernie Sanders against Clinton. Smart.

    51. Trump’s problem is that he is just not fluent enough in policy to make these attacks land the way they are meant to.

    52. “Once you get rid of those lines” – referring to state borders, which is a reference to a conservative alternative to Obamacare, but just sounds like word salad.

    53. Trump: “You’re right about Islamophobia – and that’s a shame.”

    54. And then he moves on to another topic.

    55. Trump is basically running his primary campaign right now.

    56. Photo

      Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    57. This is the reductio ad absurdum of the “call it by its name” argument. Trump has no plan to beat ISIS. He goes around and around in circles about it. But he says he is better equipped to beat terrorism by the simple expedient of saying the words “radical Islamic terrorism.”

    58. I assume he’d rather talk about that than any of this sexual/marital stuff, either involving him or the Clintons.

    59. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said that Bill Clinton was abusive to women.

      It’s been alleged.


    60. Trump calls Captain Khan “an American hero” and says he would be alive if he were president at the time.

    61. I have no idea whom this debate is going to compel to come out and vote.

    62. Trump says his Muslim ban has “morphed into extreme vetting.”

    63. And he won’t answer the question as to whether it stands, yes or no.

    64. Trump says that Syrian refugees being settled here are people we don’t know anything about. Not true. They are among the most heavily vetted immigrants in America.

    65. Clinton says that she has no intention of letting dangerous people into the country, but argues that Americans need to have a heart.

    66. This might be the toughest debate of the year for moderators. Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz doing well so far.

    67. Would be willing to bet a solid sum that Trump got the attack-the-moderators push from Gingrich.

    68. That said, Gingrich has been emphatic with Trump that he should not bring up the Clinton and women issue.

    69. I’m not sure attacking the moderators works as well in a general-election debate as it does in a Republican primary debate.

    70. Easy to get a crowd at a Republican primary debate to dump on the moderators, regardless of which candidate they back.

    71. Here it just makes him look petulant.

    72. Clinton: “What Donald Trump says about Muslims is used to recruit fighters.”

    73. Trump and Clinton clash again over support of the Iraq war. Trump says he was always against it, despite calling for invasion in 2002.

    74. I’m not sure Trump is necessarily playing to win anymore.

    75. But what this all might succeed in doing is depressing Clinton’s turnout because there is still an enthusiasm gap for her and this is a toxic campaign cycle all around.

    76. Trump says Clinton’s judgment is so bad that she should not be president.

    77. Tough one for Clinton on her leaked emails that showed her saying it was important for politicians to have a public and private position on issues.

    78. Good point on depressing Clinton’s turnout, but I’m not sure Trump is that strategic. Also, Trump over the past week has done more to energize Clinton’s base than anything Clinton could ever do.

    79. Clinton takes the question and turns it into an answer about Russian hacking, which Trump called for this summer, as a way to examine Clinton’s emails.

    80. I’m surprised the moderators highlighted the public/private quote from that hack.

    81. Photo

      Collette McLafferty, a Jill Stein supporter now leaning toward Hillary Clinton, with her friend Tony Tino, who is undecided, watching the debate at Precious Metal, a bar in Brooklyn. CreditKatherine Taylor for The New York Times
    82. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mrs. Clinton deleted 33,000 emails from her private server even after she got a subpoena from Congress.

      Mostly true.
      Read more

    83. Clinton suggests that the Russians want Trump elected because he has praised Putin and wants to do business in Moscow.

    84. “So ridiculous,” Trump says.

    85. Trump: “Now she’s blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln.” Some laughs in the audience.

    86. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said that a Clinton associate pushed the “birther” notion against Obama in 2008.

      It’s unclear.
      Read more

    87. “Maybe there is no hacking,” Trump says.

    88. “I know nothing about Russia,” Trump says.

    89. Trump really just took what could have been a terrific hit on Clinton over her paid speeches and dropped it.

    90. Trump, who will not release his taxes, says that the fact that he got the post office development in Washington is evidence of his big balance sheet.

    91. That was one of Trump’s best openings and one his campaign had prepped him for.

    92. The WikiLeaks paid speeches excerpts would have been potentially lethal to Clinton during the primary.

    93. Coming now they could still be problematic in terms of enthusiasm for her among Sanders voters.

    94. But Trump could have driven it home and instead went into a diversion.

    95. Trump is talking about getting rid of the carried interest tax loophole as a way to ensure tax fairness. He now mentions his own tax plan, which makes up for the loss of that loophole with steep reductions on capital gains and earned income.

    96. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton has never used the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

      Just flat wrong.
      Read more

    97. We are getting into the free association part of the debate, people. This happened 35 minutes in last time.

    98. Adam, I have a different take than you here. I feel like with the assault allegations out of the way, Trump is on steadier ground.

    99. Or at least, on more advantageous ground, such as it exists.

    100. I thought that until five minutes ago.

    101. I did too, until that last answer.

    102. He really had the emails answer down pat. Knew the facts, was prepared for how to answer it.

    103. Nailed it on emails the way he nailed it on trade last time. Just nailed it.

    104. Clinton: “Well everything you’ve heard from Donald just now is not true. I’m sorry I have to keep saying this, but he lives in an alternative reality.”

    105. Clinton reminds the audience that she voted to close tax loopholes as a senator.

    106. Every time I think I know which way this debate is going, it starts going the other way.

    107. FACT CHECK Hillary Clinton

      Mrs. Clinton praised many features of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.



    108. Clinton is hitting Trump hard on last week’s controversy, that Trump may not have paid federal income taxes for 18 years.

    109. I think Trump just answered the question we’ve all been asking this past week, on his taxes.

    110. “Of course I do,” Trump says when asked if he used the $916 million loss to avoid paying taxes.

    111. Did Trump just acknowledge that he used the $916 billion loss to pay no taxes? Justified it by saying Clinton’s friends did it.

    112. Trump tries to paint Clinton as the Wall Street patron, arguing that she wants to keep carried interest.

    113. Trump: “With her, it’s all talk and no action.”

    114. I don’t know how much prep Trump did, but it seems like he thought more about what he should be talking about in a debate. He has a few very effective lines of debate.

    115. Clinton was ready to respond to the attack that she’s done nothing for 30 years. Here’s everything she’s done.

    116. Two things were different, before the Washington Post report on Friday of the recording of Trump – Trump had spent the week actually doing more focused prep, with a smaller group.

    117. And Chris Christie led the prep, and was described as much more effective than Rudy Giuliani had been when he led it.

    118. He’s giving a more conventional debate performance than last time. That’s a good thing.

    119. On all the basics of tradecraft, he is doing better than before. I’m not sure it’s better than Clinton.

    120. Trump is also a fairly quick learner in terms of certain stylistic aspects of politics. To Alan’s point, being able to pace is helpful to her.

    121. By the way, this is not what I would call a typical town hall debate. There’s not that much interaction with the audience, at least compared with what I remember from past campaigns.

    122. It does feel very moderator-controlled.

    123. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said “many people saw” bombs all over the apartment of a couple who committed the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

      Not true.
      Read more

    124. Trump looks very bored by her long policy answers. Squinting, looking down.

    125. FACT CHECK Hillary Clinton

      Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Trump supported the Iraq war before it began.

      There is evidence.
      Read more

    126. Trump says Russia has gone “wild” with their nuclear program. “Not good!”

    127. This bit about Syria and Clinton’s influence is putting Clinton in a tough spot – she did not share Obama’s view on Syria when she was in the administration, but in order to say that, she’d have to criticize Obama, whom she badly needs right now.

    128. Some background on the women Trump brought to the debate, who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault.

      Donald Trump Featured 3 Women Who Accused Bill Clinton of Sexual Assault

      Donald Trump Featured 3 Women Who Accused Bill Clinton of Sexual Assault

      Donald J. Trump held a surprise news conference shortly before the second presidential debate on Sunday with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or sexual harassment in the past.

      The New York Times
    129. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said he would reduce the tax rate on business income to 15 percent.

      Not exactly.
      Read more

    130. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said “maybe there is no hacking,” in response to Mrs. Clinton’s claim that Russians are engaged in an unprecedented effort to influence the election — on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

      Hacking is endemic.
      Read more

    131. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said that Mrs. Clinton “wants to go to a single-payer plan” like the health care system in Canada.

      Read more

    132. Photo

      Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
    133. Trump says that he doesn’t like Assad, but that Assad, Russia and Iran are all killing ISIS.

    134. Trump says he disagrees with Pence on handling Syria.

    135. Worse, Alan. Trump just said he hasn’t spoken with his running mate about Pence’s proposals for Syria.

    136. Clinton would have been smart to hold out for two-hour debates.

    137. Trump says Aleppo “basically has fallen.” The moderator seems to be trying to lead him into a Gary Johnson moment.

    138. Raddatz pushing Trump to get more specific on ISIS.

    139. Clinton is looking frustrated as Trump gobbles up talking time.

    140. Twenty minutes to go. Is it possible the whole episode leading up to this debate – the Trump recording and bringing in the women – will not be the takeaway of the debate? And if that is the case, will that help Trump move beyond it?

    141. Photo

      People at a debate watch party at a Holiday Inn in San Francisco. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times
    142. Adam, before the debate started, a friend emailed me a link to a story about how explosives can help put out a raging fire.

    143. And that analogy was exactly what Trump did.

    144. Clinton is asked what she would do different from Obama on Syria, and she doesn’t give a clear answer.

    145. She does say that she would specifically target the leader of ISIS, and she hits Trump for saying he knows more than the generals about ISIS.

    146. FACT CHECK Hillary Clinton

      “Since the Great Recession the gains have all gone to the top.”

      Not anymore.
      Read more

    147. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said that growth is “down to 1 percent” and that taxes in the United States are the “highest in the world.”

      Read more

    148. The candidates are talking about a lot of different things; laying out a lot of disagreements on, um, issues.

    149. Trump is complaining to the moderators, saying that Clinton went more than a minute over without being stopped. He says that he gets stopped for going a second over.

    150. Trump is asked by an audience member if he can be a president for all Americans. He says of course and notes that Clinton called half of his supporters “deplorable.”

    151. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said we have hundreds of thousands of people pouring into the United States from places like Syria, and we have no idea who they are.

      Way off.
      Read more

    152. Trump calls Clinton a liar on T.P.P.

    153. T.P.P. is an issue on which Clinton is vulnerable.

    154. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump admitted that he used a $916 million loss declared on his 1995 tax returns to avoid paying federal income taxes. But he refused to say how many years he paid no income tax and simultaneously claimed to have paid a “tremendous” amount of taxes.

      More questions than answers.
      Read more

    155. Trump is doing the classic “outsider” frame in presidential politics – whatever you don’t like can be attributed to the more experienced candidate.

    156. Nick, it is the argument that Steve Bannon, his campaign C.E.O., has pushed for aggressively – be the “change” agent.

    157. And in general, it is the more successful frame in American presidential elections. In general.

    158. Photo

      Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    159. Clinton has her own version of the change agent argument, as the first female nominee.

    160. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said Syria, Russia and Iran are fighting the Islamic State.

      Mostly misleading.
      Read more

    161. Clinton says that she gets letters from voters who are worried they would not have a place in Trump’s America.

    162. Well, it’s certainly the argument after two terms of the same party, which is what Clinton would be, in terms of Trump being the “change” candidate.

    163. Something to note here: Trump’s accusers, and Bill Clinton’s, have not come up again since the beginning.

    164. On her comment on “deplorables” – what she called many of Trump’s supporters – Mrs. Clinton says: “My argument is not with his supporters. It’s with him.”

    165. I wonder if the moderators’ decision to plunge right into the recording at the beginning of the debate ended up helping Trump, in a way.

    166. They both took their best shots. And neither wants to talk about it again, it seems.

    167. Trump: “Believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart.”

    168. Photo

      Mrs. Clinton answering a question during the debate. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
    169. Trump just says it wasn’t “check out the sex tape” when he tweeted about Alicia Machado. That is in fact what he said.

    170. “Tweeting happens to be a modern-day form of communication,” Trump says of his late-night burst on Twitter last week criticizing a former Miss Universe.

    171. Photo

      Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
    172. Clinton brings up her husband’s record as president. Is she goading Trump into attacking Bill Clinton?

    173. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said that the United States signed a “peace treaty” to bring an end to the civil war in Syria.

      Not even close.
      Read more

    174. The candidates were just yelling over each other.

    175. I go back to an earlier point – who is going to be inspired to go out and vote after this?

    176. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump, referring to the effect of NAFTA and other free-trade agreements, said, “We lost our jobs.”

      We didn’t.
      Read more

    177. Final question of night: Supreme Court justices.

    178. I’m not sure this debate changes much in terms of the course of the election. Just an early guess. Too much other stuff going on this past week.

    179. I think this feels like a more evenly matched debate than the last one.

    180. Adam, amazing that there have been two or three news events in the last week that are bigger than a presidential debate. But you’re right.

    181. Shocking, right, Nick? This debate almost feels like an afterthought, just as something that influences the outcome of the race.

    182. Audience numbers and polling may prove us wrong.

    183. Nick, that is a great point about the events swallowing the debate.

    184. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump accused Mrs. Clinton of being there for President Obama’s “line in the sand” in Syria. She said she wasn’t.

      Trump is wrong.
      Read more

    185. A good follow up here would be to ask Trump to name some of the judges on his list.

    186. I bet the audience numbers will be huge, maybe even bigger than the last one – because of the recording.

    187. Well, that helps Trump to some extent, if you are right.

    188. Trump says that by the end of the election he will have spent more than $100 million of his own money on the campaign.

    189. Trump demands to know why Clinton isn’t putting in some of her own money given that she got wealthy post-White House.

    190. Trump: “Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business.”

    191. Photo

      Attendees watching Mr. Trump speak during a party for the presidential debate at the Athens County Republican headquarters in Ohio. CreditTy Wright for The New York Times
    192. Surprisingly adept use of briefing materials by Trump with the self-funding and personal wealth comments.

    193. Totally agree Maggie. Trump was able to get at the disconnect effect of the Clinton’s personal wealth, which I think they have been somewhat blind to. In their minds, giving speeches and writing books (two big sources of their wealth, though not the only ones) are basically pretty clean ways of earning a living after a career and public service. But as we saw during the primaries, there are many voters who don’t agree.

    194. The Clintons’ view of themselves has not always matched voters’ views of them.

    195. And on the topic of the paid speeches, she is vulnerable.

    196. The disconnect gets bigger as they get older and the electorate gets younger.

    197. I guess my bottom-line question on this debate is did Trump do anything here to move beyond the Republican base – or I should say, his Republican base? I suspect not.

    198. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton ignored 600 requests for increased security from J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya, and communicated only with Sidney Blumenthal.

      Extremely misleading.
      Read more

    199. Clinton moves from energy question to climate.

    200. One more audience question. We’re in overtime.

    201. And they are asked to name something positive that they respect about the other.

    202. Yes, and I bet they both name their kids.

    203. Called it!

    204. Clinton: “I certainly will.” She says: “I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald.”

    205. Photo

      Patrons watching the presidential debate at Union Hall, a bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn. CreditJoshua Bright for The New York Times
    206. Will he say Chelsea?

    207. He can’t say Bill.

    208. Here’s another question: What’s better for other Republicans, a debate performance so bad that more of them can get off the Trump Train, or just good enough to lock them in the train cars?

    209. Trump: “Well, I consider her statement about my children to be a very nice compliment. I dont know if it was meant as a compliment.”

    210. This is a well-prepped answer by Trump.

    211. Trump: “I will say this about Hillary, she doesn’t quit, she doesn’t give up.”

    212. She went with the more obvious one – praising his kids.

    213. Did he anticipate the question or did he take advantage of those two minutes to think it up?

    214. I think he might have just thought it up – and Adam, do recall that he had the Clintons at his wedding.

    215. And he used to praise her. He may have just been referring to how he felt.

    216. And they end with a handshake, which they did not do at the beginning.

    217. Kind of a nice ending.

    218. Well, we began with Trump saying he wanted to put Clinton in jail and ended with him praising her fighting spirit.

    219. Who says we can’t have nice things?

    220. (Just kidding, we can’t have nice things.)

    221. A Republican just texted me to say Democrats should be happy – that Trump did enough to stop Republicans from trying to force him to step down.

    222. I think neither side can decide precisely what to make of this debate, Adam.

    223. Republicans who want to keep Trump viable to help their efforts to hold the Senate are rooting for his performance.

    224. Democrats think she did well enough to basically freeze this in place, although they concede that she didn’t have a great night.

    225. FACT CHECK Hillary Clinton

      Mrs. Clinton said that she had helped eight million children obtain health coverage, Sept. 11 responders receive medical care and children get safer medicines.

      She can back it up.
      Read more

    226. Photo

      Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump shaking hands after the debate. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times
    227. We have said in this space before that Clinton does very poorly sitting on a lead. I think Trump has a similar issue: He performs better when the chips are way, way, way down.

    228. It is a little weird that the most natural and relaxed Trump sounded at this debate was on the last question, when he was praising Clinton.

    229. Maybe I am confusing “natural” with “not cranked up.”

    230. I think that is true on Trump. I’m not sure he did enough to deal with the recording. He didn’t even go as far as he went into the apology he did.

    231. I think that’s right on the tape. I don’t think the debate stops the discussion about it. I do think his answer about being sorry and apologizing to his wife will prevent G.O.P. leaders from openly cutting bait with him.

    232. FACT CHECK Donald J. Trump

      Mr. Trump says Mrs. Clinton wants “amnesty for everybody, come on in, come on over.”

      Not her position.
      Read more

    233. The main thing I would have wanted if I were Trump would be to move on beyond the tape. Next 12 hours will tell.

    234. There’s no question Trump “did better” in this debate, in the following ways: More on message, more precise, more adept at trying to control the flow and put Clinton the defensive. But that’s a relative measure.

    235. I think Clinton was visibly tense early on, when her husband was in the debate frame, and recovered her old confidence as the night progressed. But it was not the rope-a-dope we saw two weeks ago – just a practiced debater hitting her points, getting the details right.

    236. Democrats will try to capitalize on Trump’s admission that he used his huge operating losses to avoid paying income taxes – the only trick is, they were using that attack anyway, even before he admitted it.

    237. So I don’t know if I saw a game-changing moment tonight.

    238. What’s going to be interesting is seeing if Clinton in the next few days can, in effect, take us back to Saturday. And whether Republicans will aid her by continuing to desert Trump.

    239. It’s equally possible that this debate, and Trump’s improvement, make that more difficult.

    240. I’m very interested to see, if this is considered a win for Trump, what all the Republicans who jumped ship say. Presumably they cannot get back on board.

    241. That’s a wrap. Thanks for joining us. We will be back on October 19 for the third and final presidential debate.



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