WASHINGTON - Republican Donald Trump went on the defensive during the second presidential debate on Sunday night (Monday morning Singapore time) to salvage his faltering presidential campaign, threatening to put his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in jail over her email case and accusing her husband Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct.
While pundits failed to crown an outright winner at the town-hall style debate in St. Louis, many were impressed at how Mr Trump handled himself compared with the first debate. Even so, most felt the debate would do nothing to affect the polls.
Addressing the taped remarks he made on trying to have sex with a married woman and grabbing women's genitals, Mr Trump said it was "locker room talk" and made it clear that he had never actually done those things.
"I apologise for the remarks," he said. "I have great respect for women, nobody has more respect for women than I do."
Implying that the topic was minor compared to issues of security, Mr Trump said: "Certainly I'm not proud off it. But this is locker room talk. When we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads...I will knock the hell out of ISIS." He was referring to the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Speaking for the first time on Mr Trump's lewd comments, Mrs Clinton said: "He has said that the video doesn't represent who he is. But I think it's clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly what he is."
She then questioned his overall fitness to be president, saying he not only disrespects women but also targets "immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, Muslims and others". She reminded voters that this "is not who we are".
Mr Trump then turned his attack to Mr Clinton, saying he was abusive of women, and added that Mrs Clinton too "attacked those same women".
Just before the debate on Sunday night, Mr Trump hosted a press conference with three women who accused Mr Clinton of sexual assault or rape. They were Ms Paula Jones, Ms Juanita Broaddrick and Ms Kathleen Willey. Also present was Ms Kathy Shelton who said Mrs Clinton defended the man who raped her in 1975.
“Hillary put me through something that you would never put a 12 year old through,” Ms Shelton said. “And she says she’s for women and children.”
Mr Trump called the four women "courageous" for being there, but said little else during the press conference.
The surprise press event was seen as a pre-emptive strike by the Trump campaign, after threatening to raise Mr Clinton's past infidelities during the first presidential debate.
In response, the Clinton campaign tweeted a clip of First Lady Michelle Obama during the Democratic National convention, saying: "When they go low, we go high". Mrs Clinton reiterated that during the debate at Washington University.
She was also put in the hot seat about the private server that she used while she was secretary of state.
Mr Trump made a more pointed argument on this topic then he did in the first debate, accusing her of deleting 33,000 emails after receiving a sub-peona. He said if he were to win the presidential election, he would "instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into" the situation because "there's never been so many lies, so much deception".
When Mrs Clinton said most of his facts on her emails were wrong and it was "awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country," his retort was "because you'd be in jail", which led to loud applause from the audience.
The candidates also dealt with issues such as Obamacare, changes in tax provisions and the war in Syria.
When asked about the recent Wikileaks emails which had excerpts of Mrs Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street firms, moderators tried to pin her down on her line about the need for "both a public and private position on certain issues".
Mrs Clinton waffled through her answer, saying she was referring to former president Abraham Lincoln implying that he had used such strategies in order to get congress to approve the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery.
The debate ended on a positive note when the candidates were asked if they could identify one of their rival's positive traits.
"I respect his children, his children are incredibly able and devoted and I think that says a lot about Donald," said Mrs Clinton.
But Mr Trump came out looking like the more generous of the two when he said: "She doesn’t quit, she doesn’t give up, I respect that, I tell it like it is."
The two then shook hands at the end of the debate, something they had refused to do at the start.