“Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” said Donald Trump during Sunday night’s debate.

This quote, after the firestorm erupted over the leaked footage of Mr. Trump explaining he could grab women wherever he wanted to because he’s a star, might perfectly illustrate the self-delusion the Republican Presidential candidate is dealing with.

“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation”

This threat was thrown Hillary Clinton’s way, marking the stark moment that a US presidential nominee officially promised to lock up his political opponent, regardless of the fact that an impartial federal investigation cleared Mrs. Clinton of all charges.

“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton responded.

“Because you’d be in jail,” Mr. Trump fired back.

When the debate shifted focus to policy, Trump managed somewhat of a recovery, in relative terms.

  • He referred to Syrian refugees as “the great Trojan horse of all time”, of course without evidence or foundation
  • He reiterated the falsehood that he opposed the Iraq War
  • He defended Vladimir Putin over US intelligence community findings that Moscow is attempting to intervene in the election through computer hacking
  • He disagreed with Clinton and his own running mate, Mike Pence, saying that the US shouldn’t act to stop bombing led Russian and Syrian forces because they are going after IS – although both Clinton and Pence understand that the majority of victims are civilians, especially doctors and other healthcare workers.


Hillary’s dilemma

From the Democratic nominee’s perspective, she placed herself in a curious quandary. She remained patiently quiet during Trump’s speaking in an attempt to rise above Trump, however just by sharing the stage with him, which is unavoidable; she is forced to come down to his level.

Trump is a crazy candidate, but Hillary is a poor one.

Any other Democratic nominee would have been able to knock out Trump with a series of ad-libs, but she was unable to. By not fighting back it appeared as though Trump was making legitimate points.

From the leaked emails of her campaign chair, John Podesta, to the transcripts of talks to Wall Street executives, to abandoning borders, and to her admiration of European style healthcare systems – there were a lot of issues.


What we are left with

The lasting impression of the debate was that Mr. Trump was in defensive panic mode, after his campaign has been sinking at an incredible trajectory, with Republican office holders urging him to withdraw. He dismissed his disgusting comments over sexually predatory behaviour as “locker room talk” – and when that didn’t work he dug up accusations in Bill Clinton’s past in a desperate and ineffective counter-punch.

The Trump campaign faces mighty challenges to gain the votes of anyone beyond the Republican base, who would vote for him no matter what.