Five things to keep in mind for the second presidential debate


Image: Wikipedia Commons

Donald Trump, Republican Nominee (Left) and Hillary Clinton, Democratic Nominee (Right).

Kyle Mullins, Staff Writer

This election, it seems, has been more about the candidates themselves, and less about the issues that the country faces.

This became obvious after the first presidential debate Sep. 26. A large portion of speaking time was devoted to scandals from the candidates’ pasts.

This is not to say that important issues weren’t talked about in the second debate. Many issues were brought up including economic recovery, race relations, tax reform and energy reform.

However, after a short amount of time, the arguments the candidates delivered from both podiums devolved into personal attacks that could hardly be called issue oriented.

Lester Holt didn’t know how right he was when he said he didn’t expect to cover all the issues in the debate.

The second debate will be in the form of a town meeting. Half of the questions will be pitched at the candidates by citizens while the other half will be given to the candidates based on topics of public interest. With this in mind, here are a few topics to be on the lookout for in the second debate, Oct. 9:


  1.     Trump’s Leaked Audio and Tax Returns

This was a huge bombshell that was dropped during the first debate where Trump essentially admitted that he does not pay federal taxes. When Clinton accused Trump of avoiding federal taxes, Trump’s rebuttal was, “that makes me smart.” There is nothing illegal about the loopholes that Trump employed to avoid these taxes, but he is at a disadvantage to Clinton with this new revelation considering that Clinton’s scandals have been open to public scrutiny for a significantly longer time. Very recently, leaked audio from a conversation Trump had with Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” has revealed vulgar comments that Trump made against women. Even though Trump released an apology for his comments, many Republican leaders have already denounced the presidential nominee, including Trump’s own vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence. Pence said he does not condone Trump’s remarks and “cannot defend them.” Many in the RNC have asked Trump to step down from the ticket and let Mike Pence take over. Trump however has said that he will “never withdraw.” Most people have already formed an opinion on Clinton’s email scandal, Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation. Meanwhile, voters will have to settle their feelings about Trump’s tax scandal and audio scandal only weeks away from election day.

  1.     Foreign Terror Threats

This topic made a small appearance at the first debate with the candidates arguing about the other’s plans to defeat ISIS, with Trump even remarking that Clinton had been fighting ISIS her “entire adult life.” This topic is sure to make a reappearance at the second debate considering how national security is such a hot item for the GOP platform. Hillary Clinton has released her plan to fight ISIS on her website while Donald Trump said during the first debate that he has a plan but is keeping it a secret from the enemy. Odds are that there will be an inquiry into the exact details of Trump’s plan while there is simultaneous of Clinton’s defense plans.

  1.     Race Relations in America

Race has always been an issue in this country, but during this election season the topic is especially poignant with the discussion of police reform and the rise of the Black Lives Matters Movement. According to a study done by Michael Tesler of the Washington Post, “partisan gaps on race-related controversies are larger in the Obama era” than in previous presidencies before him. When it comes to race, Americans have become more divided. Race will continue to be a hot button issue in this race and a challenging issue for whoever takes the oval office. Both candidates have a shaky history on this issue, so it will be an interesting hurdle for the both of them.

  1.     America’s Role in the World

It was after WWII that America first ended its isolationist policies and embraced its role as a global player. Since the decades have passed, American opinions have condemned presidents for deploying troops in areas that are not vital to American security. Lyndon Johnson faced this scrutiny with the Vietnam war, and George W. Bush faced a similar dilemma during the war in Iraq. The conflict in Syria is a serious human rights issue, but many Americans are still reluctant to involve US troops in the conflict. When Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson was asked by MSNBC commentator, Mike Barnicle, what he would do about Aleppo, it was an important question because it showed how there is still an expectation for US presidents to deal with the foreign humanitarian issue. When Johnson responded, “What is Aleppo?” it was a major blow to the Libertarian campaign. If this topic appears in the second debate, the candidates’ responses will reveal much about their foreign policies.

  1.     Dealing with President Obama’s Legacy

Both candidates have said how they will deal with the precedents set by President Obama during the last eight years. Donald Trump said on his website that he will “completely repeal” Obamacare and overturn many of the executive orders the president has made. On the other side, Hillary Clinton presented herself during a Democratic Party debate Jan. 18, as the candidate who would be most qualified to continue Obama’s legacy. It will be important to note if Obama’s successes and failures come up in the next debate. Their responses to these types of questions will help define the type of presidency that is to be expected from each candidate, and will most likely be used by both Clinton and Trump to show how the other candidate is unfit for the role of president.


When these two candidates meet for the second time Oct. 9, keep these points in mind to help put the candidates’ talking points in context.