Here’s Who Won the Second Presidential Debate
A rattled and defiant Donald Trump sought Sunday to move past the video of him musing about sexually assaulting women that since its Friday revelation has sent his presidential campaign into a tailspin. But in trying to answer for the 2005 comments in the opening round of the second presidential debate, the Republican nominee mixed qualified contrition with angry counterattacks on Hillary Clinton unlikely to endear him to anyone not already in his camp.
Trump described his comments as "locker room talk," issued a dismissive apology, and when pressed by CNN's Anderson Cooper, said he never kissed or groped women without their consent as he'd claimed in the recording. He also sought to turn the question around as rapidly as possible.
He accused Clinton of smearing women who've accused her husband of assault and said she should be "ashamed" for discussing his comments. More strikingly, he pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton's email controversy and later told his opponent that if he's elected, "you'd be in jail."
The moment is likely one that will define coverage of the debate in coming days, with many pundits comparing the statement to those of leaders in countries that lack the reliable rule of law.
The performance may have been enough to calm his most committed supporters. Whether it stops Republican officialdom from continuing their abandonment of his candidacy will become clear in the next few days.