Article by Belinda Tasker /
October 10, 2016 /
Click here to view original /
The distance between Donald Trump and the White House is getting wider after an acrimonious debate with his presidential rival Hillary Clinton, political pundits predict.
Observers say the billionaire Republican candidate did himself no favours over the way he handled repeated questions about an infamous video showing him bragging about about groping and kissing women without their consent.
The tape, which emerged late last week, sparked controversy around the globe and led to many Republicans withdrawing their support for Trump despite the November 8 presidential election being less than a month away.
Standing before an audience of undecided voters at the second presidential debate in St Louis on Monday (AEDT), Mr Trump dismissed his comments as “locker room talk”, denied ever having sexually assaulted any woman, and accused former president Bill Clinton of doing “far worse”.
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Melbourne, says Mr Trump “made things worse” by not distancing himself from the comments that were caught on video in 2005.
“It was riveting viewing but it was a train wreck for him,” she told AAP.
“He went in by dodging being contrite and dodging the necessary distancing from those comments. He didn’t apologise for the content.”
Simon Jackman, chief executive of Sydney University’s US Studies Centre, believes it’s all over for Trump, who has been trailing Mrs Clinton in the polls.
“I think it’s not whether he loses but I think realistically we are talking by how much does he lose and how much does he take the other Republican candidates down, candidates for the house, the senate, state governorships,” he said.
“Absent of Clinton blowing herself up, it’s hard to see him winning this thing.”
The 90-minute town hall style debate was the second of three scheduled debates before Americans go to the polls.
Political observers had expected it to be a tense affair following the first debate two weeks ago when Mrs Clinton alleged Mr Trump had avoided tax for decades and denigrated a former Miss Universe.
Mr Trump hit back in the second debate, threatening to appoint a special investigator to look into how she deleted 33,000 emails from a private email server while secretary of state.
He also accused her of being “the devil”, having bad judgment and “hatred” in her heart.
Mrs Clinton responded by claiming Mr Trump was unfit to be president, reminding the audience how he had insulted women, immigrants, Muslims, disabled people, and a judge born to Mexican parents during the election campaign.
Despite the acrimony, the candidates ended by politely answering a question from a member of the audience asking them to describe one thing they respected in each other.
For Mrs Clinton it was Mr Trump’s children, while the billionaire paid tribute to how his presidential rival never gives up.