Questions asked at presidential debates tend to be about public policy, politics, or candidates' past actions. In a move out of left field, undecided voter Karl Becker asked a question no one expected to hear at the debate. For the last query of the night, Becker asked the candidates, “Regardless of the current rhetoric, would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?"
Becker's question comes on the heels of what CNN called a "contentious, nasty debate," in which Clinton and Trump traded personal attacks, with arguably not enough focus on topics that could help voters understand each candidate's platform. The debate included much discussion of Trump's 2005 tape in which he made inappropriate comments about women, as well as Clinton's husband Bill's marital indiscretions. Trump and Clinton frequently spoke past time limits and interrupted each other while going off the topics of the questions they were asked. At one point, Trump threatened to jail Clinton if he became president, while Clinton called Trump "unfit" for the presidency.
Clinton answered Becker's question first, saying, "I think that's a very fair and important question. I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don't agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I respect that and think that is something that as a mother and a grandmother is very important to me. So I believe that this election has become in part so conflict-oriented and so intense because there is a lot at stake.”
Trump, for his part, answered by accepting Clinton's compliment of his children while questioning whether "it was meant to be a compliment." He continued, "I am very proud of my children, and they’ve done a wonderful job, and they’ve been wonderful, wonderful kids. So I consider that a compliment. 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. She doesn't give up. I consider that to be a very good trait."
Becker's question was a unique way to change the heated atmosphere of the town hall debate. It allowed viewers to see Clinton and Trump say positive things about each other, something they haven't really done since the beginning of this election. While it remains to be seen whether Becker's question helps tip the mood of the next debate in a more constructive and less personal direction, the question definitely helped end Sunday's debate on a nicer note.
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