Trump: Those people I don’t know those people. I have a feeling how they came. [Trump points to Hillary] I believe it was her campaign... She’s the one and Obama [points to Hillary again] that caused the violence. They hired people [Hillary looking down and shaking her head] ...I would say the only way-because those stories are all totally false.. In particular, in Chicago, people were hurt and people could have been killed in that riot [Clinton turns eye gaze away from Trump and rolls eyes ]… It was all fiction. It was lies and it was fiction [Hillary continuing to look down, not making eye contact with Wallace or Trump]
Clinton: At the last debate, we heard Donald talking about what he did to women, and after that a number of women have come forward saying that’s exactly what he did to them. Now, what was his response?... he said that he could not possibly have done those things to those women because they were not attractive enough for-
Trump: I did not say that.
Clinton: [eyes locked on camera] -- them to be assaulted
Trump: I did not say that.
Clinton: In fact, he went on to say--
Wallace: Her two minutes. Sir, her two minutes.
One positive alternative he could have taken to answer this question was to honestly state his particular relationship with the women and perhaps where he knew them from and or why they may have had any incentive to come forth. However, he chose to highlight the violence that occurred in the Chicago rally. An example where he gives an irrelevant answer is in lines 7-9 where Trump states “people were hurt and people could have been killed.. It was lies and fictions”. Trump's unintelligible answers can also be explained by Labov who calls this verbosity. Labov describes verbosity as “words multiply, some modify and qualifying, others repeating or padding the main argument” (Labov, 1972, p.219).
As Trump is speaking, Secretary Clinton expresses various nonverbal reactions and commentary to Trump's’ response. In lines 6 and 8-10 Hillary makes reactions such as rolling her eyes, looking down to avoid all eye contact, and shaking her head. Hillary hears the senseless response her opponent is making, and her nonverbal response is in utter disbelief. Although she attends to the proper interactional regimes of a presidential debate by not speaking while Trump speaks, she seems to find his response implausible. The custom presidential debate interactional regime consists of giving complete intelligible responses and speaking with the eloquent diction of a person suitable to run the country.
Particular behavioral norms also establish the interactional regime of presidential debates such as speaking when prompted by moderator and giving precedence of political issues over personal attacks. Trump’s negligent form of acknowledgement of women deviates from the interactional regimes of a presidential debate. The use of “those people” to address possible assault survivors does not abide by the interactional regime of the debate. He also deviates from the proper interactional regimes through his persistent interruptions and disregard to respect another candidate while speaking. A possible question to consider is whether Trump’s lack of agreement with the interactional regime due to his lack of how to assess communicative competence in spaces? Another point to consider is the the likelihood that Trump’s interruptions of Secretary Clinton perhaps an indication of Trump’s view of women.
In this debate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Mr. Donald Trump have brought with them a new flavor of how to run for office. The interactional regimes and communicative competence of the debate were altered which is ultimately a reflection of the society we live in today. These deviations from norms indicate an issue much greater which is that women are still not respected as equals in America. By Trump not fully taking such a critical issue as assault accusations seriously he reproduces the deal in which society depersonalizes women and that it is acceptable to disregards their significance. This is a problem that expands further than within the context of the debate. What is important for Americans to understand is that the language illustrated in the debate setting is profoundly indicative of ideologies that linger in our country. Through Hillary’s nonverbal remarks, she obviously does not find Trump’s linguistic choices to describe women acceptable. Personally, I do not take this issue that was presented in the debate lightly and should not be linguistically expressed by anyone as such; billionaire presidential candidate or not.
Jessica is a student in the introductory sociolinguistics course at Swarthmore College.