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Trump, Clinton battle for the undecided vote

The presidential nominees talk sexual assault and effects of election rhetoric.

Michaela Kwoka-Coleman, News Editor

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The presidential candidates met again tonight to debate their policies and plans in a room full of undecided voters.

Moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, the town-hall style debate at Washington University in St. Louis, MO., featured moderator- and audience-posed questions.

The hot button issue of the night was the leaked “Access Hollywood” video from 2005, which features Republican nominee Donald Trump making sexually explicit remarks about women — remarks which many on social media have

claimed are an admission of sexual assault.

Following the release of the tape, many GOP leaders such as Sen. John McCain and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush publicly denounced Trump’s comments and pulled their support from his campaign.

At the debate, Trump held fast, saying that he was simply engaging in “locker room talk” and that the video is not an accurate representation of his character and his treatment of women.

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” the businessman said.

Trump then diverted the question to talk about ISIS.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton claimed that the video shows exactly who Trump is and what he believes, adding that it is just one piece in a large list of sexist and racist comments which prove him unfit to be president.

“We have seen him insult women. We’ve seen him berate women on their appearance, ranking them from one to 10,” the former secretary of state said. “We saw him after the first debate spend nearly a week denigrating a former Miss Universe in the harshest, most personal terms.”

In response, Trump brought up former president Bill Clinton’s accused sexual assaults focusing on Hillary Clinton’s discreditation of the women’s allegations.

“If you look at Bill Clinton… there’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women,” he said. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women – and attacked them viciously, four of them here tonight.”

Prior to the debate, Trump held a press conference with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey, three of the women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault.

Although none of the sexual assaults have been proven in court, each of the women either gave a short endorsement for Trump or a critical evaluation of the Clintons.

Kathy Shelton, the woman whose rapist Hillary Clinton defended when she was a lawyer Arkansas, was also present.

However, the Washington Post fact checker pointed to previous interviews where Trump defended Bill Clinton, citing that the former president could have gotten away with his sexual misconduct if he had slept with a more “beautiful woman.”

“He handled the Monica [Lewinsky] situation disgracefully. It’s sad because he would go down as a great president if he had not had this scandal,” Trump said in a 1999 interview. “People would have been more forgiving if he’d had an affair with a really beautiful woman of sophistication. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were on a different level.”

Another issue, which was brought up by undecided voter Patrice Brock and revisited throughout the night, was the rhetoric of this election.

“The last presidential debate could have been rated M.A,, mature audiences per T.V. guidelines,” the voter said. “Knowing that educators assign the presidential debate as homework, do you feel you are modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth?”

Clinton jumped at the question first, referencing educators who have said that Trump’s rhetoric is causing negative states of mental health for minority students and increasing bullying in schools.  

“It’s producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom,” Clinton said. “Teachers have noted an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail.”

The next and final presidential debate will take place Oct. 19 at University of Nevada, Las Vegas at 6 p.m. and will be shown on CNN.

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