2 Donald Trump: Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody-
3 *Audience laughter*
4 Donald Trump: Nobody has more respect-
5 *Audience laughter continues*
6 Chris Wallace: -Please, everybody-
7 Donald Trump: And frankly, uh...those stories have been largely debunked and...I really wanna
8 just talk about something slightly (his voice rises in pitch) *he holds up a finger*
9 different. She mentions this *points at Clinton*, which is all fiction,*he waves his
10 hand in a wiping motion* all fictionalized, probably or possibly, started by her
11 *gestures to Clinton* and her very sleazy campaign. But I will tell you, what isn’t
12 fictionalized are her emails where she destroyed thirty-three thousand emails
13 criminally, criminally after getting a subpoena from the United States
In line 10, Trump uses the phrase “probably or possibly” before asserting that she is the source of the allegations. He is not saying that they came from Clinton but that they probably did and that it is possible that she would fabricate these allegations against him. Despite using words of doubt, he is clearly blaming Clinton for these allegations. In this way, he is trying to soften his statement so he can still fall within the expectations for proper debate behavior. Trump tries to change his behavior so he can fit into our expectations for what a president is suppose to be like but he is not able to maintain it. When he says that no one has more respect for woman than he does in line 2 of the transcript, the audience laughs immediately following this statement laughing at him. When put against the context of Trump’s past behavior like when he called Fox News' Megan Kelly a "bimbo", the statement becomes completely invalidated.
He then tries to strengthen his position against his debating opponent by referring to her campaign as “sleazy”, an emotionally loaded word. Through his use of it, Trump tries to appeal to undecided voters stereotypes of Clinton as a crooked politician. In this we see Trump continue to use stereotypes to bolster his argument, a trick that he has used from the beginning of his bid for president. In line 12, he uses the word "fictionalized" but this time he uses it as a transition. Through his use of the word fictionalized, he links his initial argument with his new one. The attempt here is to try to make it seem like his argument is actually related to main point of discussion and is not just further deviation. The link is only superficial as Hillary Clinton deleting emails really has nothing to do with Trumps harassment allegations.
In line 13, he finishes his jump to Clinton’s emails by saying that she “criminally” deleted a large amount of emails. He uses repetition to emphasize this point. In addition to emphasis through repetition, Trump emphasizes certain words by increasing his volume, those words are bolded in the transcript. The effect of this depends on your political leanings. If you are against Mr. Trump, it is easy to see the repetition he uses as an attempt to bolster an argument that lacks substance.
In presidential debates, people usually “win” by being the more eloquent speaker or by saying something particularly clever (Schneider, 2016). Trump lacks the polish and the precision normally associated with being a good speaker, but in spite of this apparent shortcoming, he decimated his opponents during the Republican primary debates (Klein, 2016). Trump did not win those debates through skill but through his domineering debate style. He did not out-debate the men on stage with them, he bullied them. This style has been unsuccessful during his debates with Clinton. Despite his insults and needlessly aggressive hand gestures, Clinton is nonplussed, reading her notes and looking forward towards audience. She keeps her power through her silence, by allowing Trump to talk his way out of votes (Klein, 2016).
- Klein, Ezra. "Hillary Clinton's 3 Presidential Debate Performances Left the Trump Campaign in Ruins - Vox." YouTube. YouTube, 20 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
- Schneider, Mac. "Fixing the Debates: A Better Way to Interrupt." YouTube. YouTube, 09 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
- "Who Won the Debate?" CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
- Cillizza, Chris. "Winners and Losers from the Vice-presidential Debate." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.
- Cohen, Claire. "Donald Trump Sexism Tracker: Every Offensive Comment in One Place." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.
Elyse is a student in the introductory sociolinguistics course at Swarthmore College.