How Much Did the Second Debate Change the Race for the Oval Office?

The hot mic tape, dissension in the GOP, and another defense of an aggressive Russia has put Donald Trump on the ropes. But whether or not Hillary Clinton landed her political punches remains to be seen.


On this week’s episode of The E.R., FP’s David Rothkopf, Lara Jakes, and Kori Schake, along with David Sanger of the New York Times, recap the second U.S. presidential debate beginning with its tawdry precursors — from Donald Trump’s 2005 hot mic tape published by the Washington Post to his pre-debate press conference with the women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment.

The panel starts off by asking whether or not Trump successfully deflected talk of the tape, which revealed his lewd comments about sexual assaulting women, with a discussion of how to deal with the Islamic State. Or did he only demonstrate a clear lack of understanding about the situation in Syria? And did Trump’s unrelenting defense of Russia — despite its ongoing aggressiveness — and his fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin do him damage in the end?

Turning to evaluate the other candidate’s performance during the debate, the panel digs into Hillary Clinton’s proposed policies — including her plan for defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and a no-fly zone in Syria. The panel members also ask if Trump landed a political punch by bringing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This all leads to a discussion about FP’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president of the United States — the first in the magazine’s history.

And finally, taking a step back from the scandal and chaos that have engulfed the 2016 presidential race, the panel looks at the state of the country and its future: Is America stronger now than it was in 2008? Or will the divisiveness and anger on display during the campaign continue to fester?

David Sanger is the national security correspondent for the New York Times and author of Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power. Follow him on Twitter at: @SangerNYT.

Kori Schake is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where she focuses on military history, and a former foreign-policy advisor to Sen. John McCain. Follow her on Twitter at: @KoriSchake.

Lara Jakes is FP’s managing editor for news. Follow her on Twitter at: @larajakesFP.

David Rothkopf is the CEO and editor of the FP Group. Follow him on Twitter at: @djrothkopf.

Subscribe to FP’s The E.R. and Global Thinkers podcasts on iTunes.

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