Recap of the Second Presidential Debate

Posted by Ali Albassam on October 10, 2016 in Blog

The second presidential debate took place at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016. Moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, the debate format came in the form of a town hall meeting. Half the questions came from undecided voters in the audience and the other half by the moderators from a list of questions submitted by readers.

Many viewers noticed a tense beginning which set the tone for the rest of the debate as the candidates skipped handshakes after being introduced. Donald Trump was forced to answer for the “Trump Tape” which surfaced just days before the debate.

Below is a snapshot of the key issues that were discussed during the debate, and the Arab American Institute’s take on them.  Please visit AAI’s Election Central to view complete Candidate Profiles. 

Anti-Arab & Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Hilary Clinton:

“My vision of America is an America where everyone has a place, if you’re willing to work hard, you do your part, you contribute to the community. That’s what America is. That’s what we want America to be for our children and our grandchildren.” (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

“It’s also very short-sighted and even dangerous to be engaging in the kind of demagogic rhetoric that Donald has about Muslims. We need American Muslims to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines. I’ve worked with a lot of different Muslim groups around America. I’ve met with a lot of them, and I’ve heard how important it is for them to feel that they are wanted and included and part of our country, part of our homeland security, and that’s what I want to see.” (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

Donald Trump:

“Well, you’re right about Islamophobia, and that’s a shame. But one thing we have to do is we have to make sure that — because there is a problem. I mean, whether we like it or not, and we could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem. And we have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on. When they see hatred going on, they have to report it.”  (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

AAI’s Take:

Since 9/11, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry has remained a consistent phenomenon, resulting in a dramatic increase in hate crimes against Arab Americans, American Muslims, and those perceived to be Arab or Muslim. Read more about Anti-Arab & Anti-Muslim bigotry here.

Immigration and Refugee Resettlement

Hillary Clinton:

“Well, first of all, I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us. But there are a lot of refugees, women and children — think of that picture we all saw of that 4-year-old boy with the blood on his forehead because he’d been bombed by the Russian and Syrian air forces.” (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

“There are children suffering in this catastrophic war, largely, I believe, because of Russian aggression. And we need to do our part. We by no means are carrying anywhere near the load that Europe and others are. But we will have vetting that is as tough as it needs to be from our professionals, our intelligence experts and others.” (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

“But it is important for us as a policy, you know, not to say, as Donald has said, we’re going to ban people based on a religion. How do you do that? We are a country founded on religious freedom and liberty. How do we do what he has advocated without causing great distress within our own county? Are we going to have religious tests when people fly into our country? And how do we expect to be able to implement those?” (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

Donald Trump:

“It’s called extreme vetting. We are going to areas like Syria where they’re coming in by the tens of thousands because of Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton wants to allow a 550 percent increase over Obama. People are coming into our country like we have no idea who they are, where they are from, what their feelings about our country is, and she wants 550 percent more. This is going to be the great Trojan horse of all time.” (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

 “We have enough problems in this country. I believe in building safe zones. I believe in having other people pay for them, as an example, the Gulf states, who are not carrying their weight, but they have nothing but money, and take care of people. But I don’t want to have, with all the problems this country has and all of the problems that you see going on, hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about them. We know nothing about their values and we know nothing about their love for our country.” (NYT, Oct.10, 2016)

AAI’s take:

The United States has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees. However, Anti-Immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric has conflated a humanitarian crisis with a national security issue, despite a robust vetting process that is in place for refugees. Read more about the refugee vetting process here. Learn more about the Anti-refugee backlash and resettlement here.

In case you missed the debate, fact-checkers continue to heed the calls of candidates to check their opponent’s claims. NPR has provided the debate transcripts with fact checks built right in - you can read it hereThe third and final presidential debate will be on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. To learn more about how you can host a Yalla Vote Debate Watch Party, click here.