11 Oct 2016

Presidential debate over beer and a plate

11:22 am on 11 October 2016

While the second US presidential debate was not a game-changer, Donald Trump's solid performance surprised some people watching at a Wellington bar.

The second US presidential debate is televised as central Wellington craft beer bar Hashigo Zake.

The second US presidential debate is televised as central Wellington craft beer bar Hashigo Zake. Photo: RNZ / Aaron Smale

Given the pressure Republican candidate Mr Trump has been under in the lead-up to the debate, many expected him to hit the self destruct button.

But he held his own and fired a few shots, including vowing to jail his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton if elected next month.

A small but multinational crowd tuned into the debate at Wellington bar Hashigo Zake.

Ahead of the debate, former Canadian Steve Cossaboom, an ardent Clinton supporter, likened watching Mr Trump's performance to watching a car crash.

"I predict Hillary is going to win this, the debate for sure, and it's like going to a NASCAR race. Everyone's hoping that Mr Trump spins out and hits the wall, and there's smoke and fire."

But another viewer, Phillip Beach, said he was surprised the former reality TV star had got this far.

"I can't believe that Trump has got this far, after all that he has said, his history, his approach to life. I feel apprehensive for Hillary because he is a bully and I think he's going to have a real go at her, and her husband, so I want to see what's happening."

Many expected Mr Trump to counter the embarrassing contents of a video where he admitted groping women without consent, and he did, by accusing Mrs Clinton of attacking women who had alleged sexual misconduct by her husband Bill.

But Mrs Clinton refused to stoop to his level, echoing Michelle Obama's speech, saying "when they go low, we go high".

It was a tactic that resonated well with American Dale Gordon, who will return to his home in Las Vegas on Thursday after visiting her son in New Zealand.

She was impressed by Mrs Clinton's performance.

"I like her not losing train of what she represents, why she should be president, what her programmes are and not that constant fighting. And she did take the high road, I kind of wanted her to really kill him on all of those things, but she took the high road and I respected that."

Ms Gordon said the thought of a Trump victory was terrifying for her and her friends.

"I think the taxes will be disastrous, I think the healthcare will be a disaster ... and I honestly and truly think that his negativity towards women, if he puts someone on the Supreme Court then I could see Roe v Wade go."

American Dale Gordon watched the presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

American Dale Gordon said that for her and her friends, the thought of a Trump victory is terrifying. Photo: RNZ / Aaron Smale

"All those things that we've worked so hard for, you know, marriage equality - all those things that are very, very important and I think he is totally against them and I think if he gets in he might be able to do it."

Mr Cossaboom also believed the debate had gone to Mrs Clinton.

"I'm not sure exactly what the deal is but the guy sniffs like he's got a cold but he doesn't have one.

"I think a lot of the time he completely deflected and avoided answering the questions directly, he word-saladed a lot, he would just start spewing his campaign lines in lieu of actually answering the questions, whereas I think Hillary was very straightforward in answering the questions and pretty much everything as honestly as she could.

"She even admitted to her mistakes which I think was pretty good."

The third and final debate will be held on 19 October and election on 8 November.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs