Live Blog: The Second Clinton-Trump Debate

By Mark Joyella 

And so it was that on a Sunday night in early October, Americans gathered around their televisions, tablets and TweetDecks, knowing that what they were about to witness might not be pretty–but it would very likely be excellent television.

Just two days after the release of audio that captured Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump describing the ease with which he could make unwanted sexual advances on women, Trump meets Hillary Clinton for their second debate.

Team Trump is described as a campaign in crisis, while Camp Clinton continues to see its potentially damaging storylines–the release of yet more emails–being overwhelmed by the lurid nature of Trump’s 2005 comments.

And so here we are in St. Louis. It’s a town hall format tonight, with two moderators: ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

8:57 p.m. ET: The moderators make their remarks. Raddatz asks the audience in the town hall to refrain from cheering or booing, etc.

What will happen? On CBS News, Peggy Noonan said it’s impossible to predict, but Trump may go for broke. “I think he is going to come out today in what he thinks is a strong way — no holds barred.”

On PBS, Judy Woodruff said “the most unconventional campaign in American history has reached entirely new levels.”

9:05 p.m. ET: The candidates take the stage and DO NOT SHAKE HANDS. REPEAT. DO NOT SHAKE HANDS.

9:11 p.m. ET: Anderson Cooper asks the question to Trump about the Friday audio, asking Trump “you bragged about sexually assaulting women. Do you understand that?”

9:22 p.m. ET: How is Trump doing? Frank Luntz:

9:24 p.m. ET: The audience has no interest in following the no applause rule, and both Raddatz and Cooper have admonished them. “You’re just wasting time,” said Cooper.

9:30 p.m. ET: This is getting very, very weird. Trump seems angry, and has accused Cooper of ignoring the Clinton emails, which have been discussed. “1 against 3,” Trump says.

9:39 p.m. ET: Anderson Cooper has clearly chosen to engage with the candidates, stepping in to focus answers and follow up.

9:43 p.m. ET: Pressing Trump on his Muslim ban, Raddatz said “no, answer the question,” getting kudos on Twitter.

10:03 p.m. ET: How many members of the town hall audience have asked questions? It feels like just two or so?

10:10 p.m. ET: What will Trump say about the moderators after the debate? There is no love on display.

10:16 p.m. ET: Does anyone have the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme music handy?

10:37 p.m. ET: The debate has ended. Let the games begin.

CuX7YUpWcAA_PiR10:40 p.m. ET: Post-Game. Who won? Does it matter? On CNN, Jake Tapper concluded it was a wash, which may not be good enough for Trump. Many observers noted were struck by Trump’s comments about his running mate, Mike Pence. On CBS, Major Garrett said “he dissed him before the largest audience.” FNC’s Dana Perino said Trump “lives to fight another day. Does his Vice President live to fight another day? I don’t know.”

CBS’ Norah O’Donnell reported there may be problems in the Pence camp. “I just got an email from a source saying the Pence team is nuclear tonight…pissed.”

Also on Fox News, Juan Williams said “I think (Clinton) was very clear that she was more presidential, more thoughtful and more substantive tonight.”

11:00 p.m. ET: Kellyanne Conway, in an interview with Chris Matthews, was asked if she will be with the Trump campaign until “the bitter end.” She said “yes, unless…” and stopped. The panel, Rachel Maddow, Brian Williams, and Chuck Todd were struck, with Todd saying the “unless” jived with some of the reporting he is hearing, that Conway is ready to bolt if more shoes drop after the Trump Tapes.

Conway agreed to continue her interview, and said the “unless” only referred to the possibility of a family member needing her, or something changing in her personal life, nothing to do with the Trump campaign itself. But Twitter was alight with comment about the MSNBC interview.

And on CNN, Dana Bash commented on Trump’s remarks that he would seek to jail Hillary Clinton if elected president:

We end the live blog with the words of CBS’ Bob Schieffer:

How have we come to this? This is supposed to be a campaign for the most powerful office in the land. Here we’re marching in, women, into the hall, who are supposed to have some relationship with one of the candidate’s spouses. And what is that supposed to prove? And over and over, if I’m elected, I’m going to put you in jail? I mean this is what they do in banana republics. This is the United States of America. People keep asking me if I’ve ever seen anything like this and I keep saying no. And I just hope to God I don’t see another one like this one. America can do better than what we’ve seen here tonight. This was just disgraceful.