The ugliest presidential debate in the country’s history began with the two candidates taking the stage without shaking hands and will be remembered for Donald Trump’s threat to put Hillary Clinton in jail, his statement that she has “hate in her heart” and by his stunning decision to put three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual abuse in the front row.
But the sad spectacle did more to cement the broader 2016 campaign in the annals as a low point for the nation’s political discourse and civility than to alter a race between the two most unpopular nominees ever that is hardening as it enters the final stretch.
With 29 days left, Clinton is a heavy, heavy favorite to become the country’s first woman president. But she did not deliver a final death blow to her reeling opponent, who has been hemorrhaging Republican support after Friday’s publication of video in which he bragged about getting away with sexual assault.
“I don’t see that anything changed tonight,” said Curt Anderson, a GOP strategist in Washington. “In fact, Clinton really botched the debate in that she had a chance to put him away with a good performance. The past few days have revealed Trump’s lack of character for all to see, and tonight this debate is a reminder of just how lousy a candidate Clinton is.”