Increasing tension in the 45th US presidential election campaign saw tempers rise to unprecedented levels at the most recent debate last night, with Donald Trump even threatening to imprison his opponent if he came to power.
Mr Trump launched his most ferocious attack on Hillary Clinton to date, in response to the uproar sparked by the leaked 2005 tape recording of the outspoken Republican making obscene and highly derogatory remarks about women, even bragging to have sexually assaulted women in the past.
Mr Trump apologised for the comments he made 11 years ago, and denied having ever sexually assaulted a woman, but dismissed the whole issue as “just words”, and “locker room talk”.
In a surprise press conference staged an hour before the debate took place, the real estate mogul and television personality appeared with three women who have in the past accused Mrs Clinton’s husband of sexual misconduct.
While Mr Clinton, the 42nd US president, has never had any charges brought against him, his extra-marital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky led to his impeachment in 1998.
Mrs Clinton, who refused to address the comments made about her husband, quoted first lady Michelle Obama, saying “When they go low, you go high.”
The Democratic candidate took a much more passive stance against the bullish Republican, allowing the audience to “…draw their own conclusions at this point about whether or not the man in the video or on the stage represents women.”
Mr Trump repeatedly and aggressively interrupted the 68-year-old Democrat, as the two exchanged verbal blows on subjects including Russia, the Syrian conflict, Mrs Clinton’s private email server, Mr Trump’s refusal to publish his tax returns and his plans for “extreme vetting” of immigrants.
The final question of the debate, posed by an audience member, asked the two candidates to state something positive that they respected about the other.
Mrs Clinton pointed to the devotion of Mr Trump’s children, and how well they reflected upon him as a person.
In response, Mr Trump called his opponent “a fighter”, who never gives up.
With less than a month to go until American voters go to the polls on 8th November, the current average of all polls listed on the Huffington Post’s polling database show Mrs Clinton leading 45% to Mr Trump’s 41%
There will be a third and final debate between the two candidates in Las Vegas on 19th October, 20 days before votes are cast.