Donald Trump Says “You’re the Puppet” To Hillary Clinton, America Loses
On Wednesday night, during the third and final presidential debate of the 2016 election season, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took turns calling each other a "puppet,"with the Republican candidate using the phrase repeatedly in a seemingly childish retort to Clinton's suggestion that Trump acts as a puppet for the Russian regime.
The exchange kicked off when Trump was discussing his much-questioned relationship with Russia, stating, "I don't know Putin. He has said nice things about me...He has no respect for her [Clinton]. He has no respect for our president...Putin, from what I see, has no respect for this person [referring to Clinton]." In response, Clinton asserted that Putin would "rather have a puppet as President of the United States," implying that Putin would prefer a Trump presidency to a Clinton one since it would seemingly allow him greater influence in U.S. affairs.
Trump's response to Clinton's implication that Putin would hold the puppet strings to a Trump presidency was reminiscent of childhood bickering. The transcript of Wednesday's debate very aptly captures the sentiment evoked by the exchange:
Clinton: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president.
Trump: No puppet, no puppet.
Clinton: And it's pretty clear --
Trump: You're the puppet.
Clinton: It's pretty clear you won't admit.
Trump: No, you're the puppet.
Clinton: That the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people...
Trump's repeated "puppet name calling" received a strong reaction on social media, with users amused and aghast that the candidate would resort to such childish tactics to respond to Clinton's implication.
In addition to many social media users mocking Trump for his seemingly childish retort to Clinton's implications about his relationship with Russia, some other users also expressed their agreement with Clinton's sentiment, stating that they also felt that Trump could serve as a potential "puppet" President who would highly benefit the Kremlin.
Overall, in a moment when Trump could have taken the time to assuage voters concerned about the nature of his relationship with Russia, he instead resorted to "playground tactics" to mock Clinton's suggestion about this relationship, providing little substantive information about the issue.
Indeed, further along in the line of questioning about Russia, Trump resorted to mocking Clinton further, repeatedly asserting that Putin had "outsmarted her." While this exchange was perhaps amusing to watch since it was so out-of-character for a presidential debate, it was also highly disconcerting for the exact same reason.