Accusations Of Sexual Assault Cast Shadow On Second Debate
Trump's ploy to distract from a recently released videotape by reviving old Bill Clinton accusations seemed to succeed
Donald Trump, through both his own actions and the last-minute counter-attack his team revived, managed to turn sexual harassment and assault into one of the major talking points at Sunday’s debate.
Donald Trump moved quickly to deflect outrage over his most recent scandal in this campaign, a 2005 video in which he boasted about grabbing women by their genitals, by touting the personal stories of four women who made rape accusations against President Bill Clinton in decades past. All four women sat in the audience at Washington University in St. Louis after collaborating with Trump on a Facebook Live video just before the televised face-off with Hillary Clinton.
Vocativ analyzed more that five million tweets about the second 2016 presidential debate by collecting debate hashtags and any mentions of either candidate or moderator. Sexual violence was one of the top trending topics among debate viewers. An estimated 244,141 posts, including retweets, mentioned either “rape,” “rapist,” “assault” or “molest.”
Outraged Trump supporters slammed Democrats by tweeting the hashtag #JusticeforJuanita, accusing Hillary of threatening Juanita Broaddrick after the latter was allegedly raped by the candidate’s husband in 1978. The new hashtag appeared in over 7,573 tweets about the debate.
— DeplorablePussy 007 (@taydark_77) October 9, 2016
— Jordan 🐸 FL4Trump (@Miami4Trump) October 9, 2016
Meanwhile, Clinton’s supporters clung to the double-standard of sexism in Trump’s attacks: Clinton was widely criticized for her husband’s sexual conduct while Trump himself has been accused of sexual assault by numerous women, including an ongoing lawsuit by a woman who says Trump raped her when she was 13 years old.
Trump: “Hillary didn’t rape anyone. But it’s her fault as his wife, just like my wives are responsible for all my sexual assaults.”#debate
— Top Conservative Cat (@TeaPartyCat) October 10, 2016
Why are we talking about Bill? He’s not running for Pres. And locker room talk= rape culture Donald. Not everything is Hillary’s fault
— Megan! (@MeganTwining) October 10, 2016
@HillaryClinton you mean like you heard, believed, and supported the 12 year old rape victim you shamed? Bitch.
— LedBelliBass (@LedBelliBass) October 10, 2016
This debate showed Trump scrambling to rebuild his public image as a crusader for women’s rights, tweeting a press release about he “empowered” businesswomen and blaming “Clintons” as an inseparable unit for the former president’s misconduct.
Both candidates are now leveraging rape accusations and women’s rights as rallying cries in their political battle. But so far Clinton’s campaign is the only one with an actual plan to address widespread sexual violence.