Future Tense

The Best, Worst, and Most Uncomfortable Lines of the Second Presidential Debate

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) and Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Hello again, old friend.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

In the early debates of the GOP primary, Donald Trump quickly earned a reputation for his willingness to say whatever came to his mind. Since then, he’s brought that same capacity for chaos to the race as a whole. Taking the stage tonight to fend off Hillary Clinton, he is expected to bring that now familiar outlandishness to their showdown, only uglier. How gross will it get? How will Clinton respond? We’ll be keeping track of the candidates’ best, worst, and most boorish lines here.


Clinton on setting the right tone:

I think it is very important for us to make clear to our children that our country really is great because we are good.

Trump, following up on Clinton’s first answer:

I actually agree with that. And I agree with everything she said.


Trump, responding to a question about whether he bragged about committing sexual assault:

I don’t think you understood. This was locker room talk. I am not proud of it.

Clinton, describing what she learned from the Trump tapes:

You know, with prior Republican nominees for president, I disagreed with them on politics, policies and principals, but I never questioned their fitness to serve. Donald Trump is different.

Clinton responding to Trump’s claim that she “viciously” attacked her husband’s accusers:


First, let me start by saying that so much of what he just said is not right, but he gets to run his campaign any way he chooses. He gets to decide what he wants to talk about instead of answering people’s questions and laying out the plans that we think can make a better and better country. That’s his choice.

Trump, playing the part of demonologist:

I was surprised to see [Bernie Sanders] sign on with the devil.

Trump, promising to prosecute Clinton if he wins:

If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. There [have] never been so many lies, so much exception. There has never been anything like it. We will have a special prosecutor. I go out and speak and the people of this country are furious.


Clinton, shortly after and before being interrupted by Trump:

OK, Donald. I know you are into big diversion, anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way Republicans are leaving you, but— [crosstalk]

Trump on fixing Obamacare and/or rethinking cartography:

We have to get rid of the lines around the state and we have to stop insurance companies from coming in and competing.

Trump on how he’ll make sure everyone has health insurance:


You have plans that are so good because we will have so much competition when we break out the lines that allow the competition to come.

Clinton on regulating immigration:

It is important for us as a policy not to say as Donald has said, We will ban people based on a religion. How do do you that? We are a country founded on religious freedom and liberty. How do we do what he advocated without causing distress within our own country.


Trump on regulating immigration:

With people coming into our country, we have criminals, and when we want to send them back, we don’t want them. They are murderers and drug lords and drug problems. … Hillary Clinton said that’s OK. We can’t force them into their country. I will force them back.


Trump, noted liar, on lying:

She lied. Now she is blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe never lied. That’s the difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.

Clinton, on Trump’s tax plan:

Donald always takes care of Donald and people like Donald. This would be a massive gift. Indeed, the way that he talks about his tax cuts would end up raising taxes on middle class families. Millions of middle class families.


Trump, asked if he can say how many years he’s avoided paid federal income taxes:

No. I have a write off and a lot is depreciation. I love depreciation. She has given it to us.

Trump, foreign policy expert:

She talks tough. Really tough against Putin and against Assad. She talks in favor of the rebels. She doesn’t know who the rebels are.

Moderator Martha Raddatz, following up her question to Trump:

Let me repeat the question. If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo.


Trump, confronted with his running mate Mike Pence’s comments on military strategy:

He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.

Clinton, on whether the kids are listening:


One woman wrote me about her son, Felix. She adopted him from Ethiopia and he is 10 years old and this is the only country he has ever known. He said, Will he send me back to Ethiopia if he gets elected? Children listen, to go back to the very, very first question. There is a lot of fear. In fact, teachers and parents are calling it the Trump effect. Bullying is up and a lot of people are feeling uneasy and kids are expressing concerns.

Trump, railing against a divided nation:

Believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart. When she said deplorables, she meant it. When she said irredeemable, they are irredeemable.

Clinton, asked whether Trump has the discipline to be a good leader:


Trump, promising a Supreme Court justice for all your base:

I am looking for judges and have picked 20 of them. So that people would say. Highly respected. Highly thought of and actually very beautifully reviewed by just about everybody.

Trump on tweeting at 3 a.m.:

I’m not unproud of it.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.