In cringeworthy debate, Trump and Clinton dish out personal jabs, insults

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 9, 2016 (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

Days after explosive revelations about Donald Trump's predatory comments about women and Hillary Clinton's closed-door speeches to banking executives, the U.S. presidential debate Sunday night was a fight to the death over character. In a 90-minute encounter filled with insult and interruption, Trump diverted attention to the sex scandals in former President Bill Clinton's past. He went stunningly personal, claiming to see "tremendous hate" in his opponent's heart, referring to her as "the devil" and a liar and declaring that, if elected, he would put her in jail. Clinton met Trump's wrath with dismissive smiles and eye rolls, but her strategy was arguably less effective than in their first outing.

Don’t tell me about words. And absolutely, I apologize for those words. But it is things that people say.

Donald Trump

Moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz teamed to ask sharp questions and to keep the presidential candidates corralled during many contentious exchanges during the debate. Toward the end of the debate, a man asked whether each of the candidates could think of one positive thing to say about the other — a query that proved particularly disarming after 90 minutes of cutting insults. Clinton said she respected Trump's children, and Trump said he admired that his opponent was a fighter.

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