During the second presidential debate, which occurred just over 48 hours after the release of a tape where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women, Trump stood closely behind Clinton in a way that many people perceived as threatening.
After Trump insisted he never sexually assaulted anyone, reiterating that the comments recorded on the tape were just “locker room talk,” he decided to stand very close to Clinton as she delivered her answers to CNN’s town hall-style questions. He also aggressively interrupted Clinton, Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper during the debate, accusing the moderators of bias toward Clinton.
What. Is. He. Doing. pic.twitter.com/6uE8sf09ul
— James West (@jameswest2010) October 10, 2016
He hovers like a guy in the club who keeps on trying to buy you a drink.
— Karlee (@KarleeKanz) October 10, 2016
Donald Trump: "I am a gentleman." pic.twitter.com/ZTFR41y2C8
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) October 10, 2016
TRUMP: "I'm a gentleman."
TRUMP'S BODY LANGUAGE: pic.twitter.com/QOcOjQcs6B
— Sady Doyle (@sadydoyle) October 10, 2016
Good GIF or best GIF pic.twitter.com/ahlrx8UQ2C
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) October 10, 2016
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tried to minimize Trump’s proximity to Clinton by presenting it as an excuse not to focus on other facets of Trump’s debate performance.
How you know @realDonaldTrump won the debate:
1) you watched it
2) Hillary (and media) spin will be about him standing behind her #yawn
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 10, 2016
But it may matter to voters, especially in the wake of the tape released on Friday. Trump’s decision to lurk behind Clinton clearly won’t help him improve his standing with voters who don’t buy his self-professed status as the candidate with the “best temperament” or that he’s a “gentleman” who respects women.