It may well have been out of sheer disbelief.
Sunday night’s debate was the first time Donald Trump had to directly confront detractors since audio was released of him bragging about sexually assaulting women. There was one moment in the debate that seemed to encapsulate how voters have responded to the remarks.
After an audience member asked a question of the candidates, he and Hillary Clinton briefly sparred about who should get to answer first. Trump then said, “No, I’m a gentleman, Hillary. Go ahead,” and laughter erupted from the audience.
Throughout the evening, there seemed to be a loud contingent of the crowd supporting Trump and his positions, such that moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz had to ask them more than once not to audibly react. This suggests the laughter could have been from those same Trump supporters who were essentially cheering him on.
But even granting that benefit of the doubt, laughter is nevertheless not the reaction a presidential contender would probably want when trying to prove he’s capable of respecting women.
Audience laughs when Trump calls himself a ‘gentleman’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.