Clinton, Trump find no common ground on healthcare (or much else) in combative second debate
It wasn't the question most viewers had tuned in to hear discussed, but one audience member at the second presidential debate in St. Louis did ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump about the Affordable Care Act – offering a more substantive discussion of healthcare than at the first debate.
"It is not affordable," said the questioner. "Premiums have gone up. Deductibles have gone up. Copays have gone up. Prescriptions have gone up. And the coverage has gone down.
"What will you do to bring the cost down and make coverage better?" he asked
Clinton responded: "Well, I think Donald was about to say he's going to solve it by repealing it and getting rid of the Affordable Care Act," she said.
"And I'm going to fix it, because I agree with you. Premiums have gotten too high. Copays, deductibles, prescription drug costs, and I've laid out a series of actions that we can take to try to get those costs down."
Clinton said she very much wanted to save what works about Obamacare, but also get the costs down. She also noted the country was at 90 percent coverage for health insurance.
"That's the highest we've ever been in our country," she said. "So I want us to get to 100 percent, but get costs down and keep quality up."
In his two minutes allotted to respond, Trump said, "Obamacare is a disaster. You know it. We all know it. It's going up at numbers that nobody's ever seen worldwide. Nobody's ever seen numbers like this for healthcare."
Trump called for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a much less expensive program, and also advocated for removing the lines around the states that prohibit insurers from competing across state lines.
'Locker room talk'
But it was the second question of the debate where moderator Anderson Cooper went straight for the elephant in the room.
He asked Trump about the 2005 Access Hollywood tape that had been released on October 7. In the tape, Trump was heard boasting in lewd terms about kissing and groping women.
Trump dismissed his coarse remarks as "locker room talk," and then seemed to blame it all on ISIS. "Yes, I'm very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it's locker room talk, and it's one of those things.
"You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads," he added, "yes, I'm very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it's locker room talk, and it's one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We're going to defeat ISIS."
When it was her turn to weigh in, Clinton invoked the words of the First Lady at the Democratic National Convention this summer.
"I am reminded of what my friend, Michelle Obama, advised us all: "When they go low, you go high," she said.
But Clinton was not immune to attack.
Trump asserted she ought to be apologizing for "the 33,000 e-mails that you deleted, and that you acid washed, and then the two boxes of e-mails and other things last week that were taken from an office and are now missing."
He told her if he became president he would instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into the situation.
He also asked Cooper why he was not bringing up the emails.
"We brought up the emails, Cooper replied.
"No, it hasn't. It hasn't," Trump countered. " And it hasn't been finished at all."
Raddatz raised a question around the WikiLeaks release of excerpts of Clinton's paid speeches, such as at Goldman Sachs. Clinton has refused to release the speeches. Raddatz quoted one line in the leaked documents in which Clinton allegedly said: "You need both a public and private position on certain issues."
Clinton said it was something she had said about Abraham Lincoln after seeing the Steven Spielberg movie on Lincoln. "It was a master class watching President Lincoln get the Congress to approve the 13th Amendment," she said. "I was making the point that it is hard sometimes to get the Congress to do what you want to do and you have to keep working at it."
When Lincoln was trying to convince some people, he use one approach for a certain group, and a different argument when talking to another group, she added.
"That was a great – I thought a great display of presidential leadership." Clinton said.
Trump dismissed the response. "Now she's blaming the lie on the late, great Abraham Lincoln," Trump said.
Raddatz asked the last question of the night. It came from the audience:
"Regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?"
Clinton went first: "Well, I certainly will, because I think that's a very fair and important question. Look, I respect his children."
The camera panned to Trump's grown children seated on a dais at the back of the stage.
"His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald." Clinton added. "I don't agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that. And I think that is something that as a mother and a grandmother is very important to me."
For his part, Trump appeared pleased with Clinton's comment.
"Well, I consider her statement about my children to be a very nice compliment," he said.
As for something positive about Clinton, he said: "I will say this about Hillary. She doesn't quit. She doesn't give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She's a fighter. I disagree with much of what she's fighting for. I do disagree with her judgment in many cases. But she does fight hard, and she doesn't quit, and she doesn't give up. And I consider that to be a very good trait."