News-Democrat reporter Tobias Wall talks about covering the debate
Running coverage of the presidential debate Sunday between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at Washington University in St. Louis:
6:45 p.m.: In a stunningly brazen move, Donald Trump met Sunday night with several women who have accused Bill Clinton of rape and other unwanted sexual advances, just over an hour before the Republican presidential nominee was stepping on the debate stage with the former president's wife, Hillary Clinton.
The Trump pre-debate event was the clearest sign yet that he planned to use Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs to try to distract from the swirling controversy over his own predatory remarks about women. Trump is under enormous pressure from his own Republican Party after the release of a 2005 video in which the businessman can be heard saying his fame allows him to “do anything” to women.
Trump refused to answer questions from reporters about the video during his meeting in a hotel conference room with Paula Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey. Some of the women seated alongside him, however, were graphic in their accusations against the Clintons.
“Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me,” Broaddrick said. “I don't think there’s any comparison.”
Trump’s camp broadcast the meeting live on Facebook. The text accompanying the video read “Join me in St. Louis, Missouri — as I conclude my debate prep.”
6:20 p.m.: Rhonda Miles, 53, of O’Fallon, is a graduate student at Washington University, studying international relations, and was a student volunteer helping with the effort of holding the debate.
During her six-hour shifts, she helped set up for Fox News, and helped members of the news media find their seating assignments. She got picture of a picture of Fox anchor Megyn Kelly for her mother-in-law, and hoped to see Anderson Cooper.
“I thought being a part of this would be a wonderful experience, something I could never do again,” Miles said. “I think everybody should be a part of politics. This is something that comes around once every four years. People should be involved in who our elected officials are.”
She has two children, and the undecided voter has concerns, which she hasn’t seen addressed.
“My concern is we’re not talking about issues. We’re slinging mud, we’re trying to make the other person look bad, but we’re not talking about health care, we’re not talking about the deficit, we’re not talking about the things that will matter for my kids in the future,” Miles said. “I’ve not heard them talk about any of those things, we’re still trying to make the other look bad.”
“I don’t know where they stand on the issues,” Miles added. “I will vote. It may come down to the very end before I decide. I may be in the polling booth trying to decide. Right now neither one of them has overwhelmed me.”
6:10 p.m.: Standing in the courtyard where CNN had its main broadcast stage, students crowded around the broadcast and stood in line for a CNN photo booth.
One of those students was Clayton Keating, 20, of Washington, D.C., a junior at Washington University, who is supporting Clinton in the election.
“I just think she’s the best alternative to Trump. I think she’s the most qualified person to be president in a long time,” Keating said. “Just from her record as a politician, and her record as a human being, she’s the best candidate in a long time.”
He had questions about the email scandals and the donors to the Clinton Foundation, but said he did research to ease his concerns.
“On the surface it might seem a little sketchy,” Keating said. “If you actually read into it … there aren’t that many things she’s doing that’s wrong.”
6 p.m.: Natalia Oledzka is a Washington University freshman from New York City, and had a sign mocking Trump, saying he has small hands and depicting him as a tyrannosaurus rex. She is a supporter of Clinton.
“I support her policies, especially about Planned Parenthood, immigration, health care,” Oledzka said. “I’m pro-choice. … I also feel she’s more qualified than him.”
She also objected to Trump’s taped comments about women.
“I don’t understand how anyone can support him if he’s saying stuff like that,” Oledzka said. “He doesn’t respect women. People say that was a long time ago, but he was 50-something years old when he said that. It’s not like he was a 20-year-old. It’s not right to say anything like that from anybody.”
5:30 p.m.: Why would the man who shepherded the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union be hanging out on campus at Washington University?
Nigel Farage indeed was in St. Louis Sunday.
It’s not as weird as some would think.
Farage and Republican nominee Donald Trump are buddies, finding common ground over the generally isolationist economic policies each man has championed. Farage has even joined Trump on the campaign trail to speak at rallies.
During an interview Sunday afternoon, Farage was asked about the way current British Prime Minister Theresa May has managed the beginnings of negotiations that will end in the formal exit of the UK from Europe’s single market.
Farage said some of the policies May has suggested make her sound “like the toughest Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher.”
“Seventeen and a half million people voted for Brexit. They want it to happen,” Farage said. “If it doesn’t, there will be quite a political backlash.”
4:40 p.m.: Supporters of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, rallied just outside the Washington University Campus.
Stein was scheduled to appear, but organizers said she was feeling under the weather from the long campaign, and would answer questions on Facebook during the debate.
Those at the rally were calling for the debates to be opened up to allow Stein to participate.
However, the Commission on Presidential Debates requires candidates to have at least 15 percent support in five selected national polls in order to make the debate stage, which neither Stein nor Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson meet.
Stein and Johnson meet the other two criteria to be in the debates: meeting the constitutional requirements to be president and being on ballots in enough states to gain enough electoral votes.
4:35 p.m.: Andrea Lauer came all the way from Brooklyn, New York to make a point.
She and 21 other women marched onto Washington University’s campus Sunday afternoon wearing white jumpsuits with black trim drawn to look like bricks in a wall.
A closer look showed some of the bricks contained words and phrases Donald Trump has used to describe women, including “disgusting animal,” “slob” and “bimbo.”
“This is a public art piece that really is able to demonstrate that we could re-appropriate the phrases that Trump has used in such a negative way. Take them back and create a wall to block him from the White House,” Lauer said. “We felt the most active way we could do that was to actually show up. Young, old, diverse, any sort of person who wanted to be involved.”
Lauer said the women demonstrating in St. Louis is just the second time this public art piece has been on display. It debuted in Philadelphia Saturday. The next demonstration — set for Times Square in New York City — will include 200 women.
“I think people are really interested but they don’t quite know what to think just yet,” Lauer said of the reaction she and the women have gotten. “It’s clear we’re all together. It’s about conversations. If you want to look, you want to stare, you want to say something, great. Let’s just engage.”
3:05 p.m.: Jeanie Ames, 45 of Chesterfield, is a Trump supporter. She attended the debate festivities with other volunteers.
“Absolutely Hillary Clinton cannot be president,” Ames said. “Globalism, open borders and global socialism is the death of our economy. I’m a guns and money voter. The most important thing right now is sovereign capitalism.”
She said she is worried about the type of justices Clinton would appoint to the Supreme Court.
She is supporting Trump because she thinks he would be better for the economy, and added she wants a businessman “who knows how to create jobs.”
Ames added she is not concerned about language used by Trump in regard to women. She said Trump apologized and was sincere and contrite.
She said the Clintons never owned up to a mistake, apologized or been sincere.
“They’ve always deflected,” Ames said.
2:40 p.m.: A couple dozen supporters cheered Sunday afternoon as Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Rep Lacy Clay and the Rev. Jesse Jackson all climbed down from from one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign buses for a rally at the Missouri History Museum.
Misouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri Congressman Lacy Clay and the Rev. Jesse Jackson all spoke in support of Clinton.
“We would be doing a disservice if we don’t get behind her,” Clay, a St. Louis Democrat, said. He added that the people could “disarm hate” by supporting Clinton.
Nixon said a vote for Clinton moves the country forward, while a vote for “this other guy” is a U-turn.
Jackson said, “The most important thing, the crown jewel of our democracy, is the right to vote.” He said the country needs healthcare, housing and jobs, and that Clinton “takes us to higher ground.”
1:30: p.m.: A glimpse of where all those reporters churn out the stories:
1:15 p.m.: Thomas Hildebrand, 20, of Alton, is the co-founder of the Missouri Youth for Trump. He’s a chemical engineering graduate student at Washington University.
Hildebrand said on Sunday he wasn’t worried that the “Access Hollywood” video, where Trump refers to interactions with women using crude language, will hurt in the long run.
“I think ultimately any words of Mr. Trump pale in comparison to the actions of Secretary Clinton,” Hildebrand said.
He also referred to emails released by WikiLeaks, which show Clinton has conflicting stances she shares privately and publicly.
“I don’t like to hear that a president candidate likes to keep her true positions hidden from the public,” Hildebrand said.
He said he’s worried about Midwest manufacturing jobs leaving and cited Granite City Steel, which started shutting down last year.
“It’s an incredible domino effect of what happens to manufacturing, and Trump is the only candidate harping on it,” Hildebrand said.
“Really what makes this election interesting to me, especially as an engineer, this is the election of Americanism versus globalism. That’s what (Trump’s) been harping on,” Hildebrand added. “Are we going to continue to be satisfied with American products being made in other countries, being sold to us under American brands or are we going to try to, through a combination of better tax laws, and sort of resurgent populist attitude, to bring companies back?”
He remains optimistic Trump will make up the ground, as he trails in polls.
“I think if we get a good debate performance here, if he keeps up his battleground state performance, he’s doing especially well in Ohio, Iowa. A lot of the bellwether states are looking positive for him,” Hildebrand said. “I think we stand a good chance in this election.”
1:05 p.m.: The U.S. Secret Service, in a tweet Sunday, acknowledged the loss Thursday of St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder.
Snyder, a Godfrey native and Illinois resident, was shot during a disturbance call in South St. Louis County before dawn Thursday and later died.
Despite the department’s loss, several St. Louis County officers — including Chief John Belmar — were on Washington University’s campus helping the Secret Service and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies secure the area surrounding the debate venue.
12:50 p.m.: Haley Dolosic, 24, of Troy, is the Graduate Professional Council president at Washington University.
The PhD student helped plan student events and parties, including a Debate Fair on campus. The fair will include an issues section, where student groups discuss issues that are important to them.
“It will be students dialoguing with students to make the conversation happen,” Dolosic said.
This allows students to be involved as there are a limited amount of tickets available to students for the actual debate.
Among the fun activities planned is a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots stand with Trump’s and Clinton’s faces on the robots.
Dolosic said having the debate on campus helps get more students, especially first-time voters, registered, even in their home states.
“I think it’s really exciting that it happens on universities, because it means candidates are being reminded of the universities’ role in education and in politics and in society,” Dolosic said.
12:15 p.m.: Hillary Clinton has boarded a campaign plane for St. Louis. Donald Trump also has left New York and is en route to St. Louis.
Noon: Washington University’s College Democrats president says the “adults in the room” won’t be debating Sunday evening.
“Just a couple days ago the College Democrats and College Republicans issued a press release reaffirming their commitment to a civil, open and respectful dialogue. Come tonight, we want to show that we’re the adults in the room to set an example for the countless Americans who’ve become disenchanted with the political process, they’re not even going to vote,” James (Jimmy) Loomis of Ladue said Sunday. “I think what you’re going to see going on inside that debate hall and outside are going to be two diametrically opposite reactions.”
It’s something Loomis never thought he’d see in a campaign.
“Usually young adults can learn from adults, especially people who want to lead our nation, and it’s the other way around this election cycle,” he said.
Loomis, a self-proclaimed political nerd, said he’s been waiting his whole college career for Sunday’s events. The debate, he said, is “the Super Bowl of politics,” and forms part of the reason he chose to stay close to home and attend Washington University.
11:40 a.m.: The first set of questions at Sunday night’s presidential debate will be about Donald Trump’s comments about groping women on a newly published 2005 videotape, according to a report from CNN.
And Hillary Clinton will get the first question.
Moderators Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC have adjusted their plan for the debate in light of the Trump tape, sources told CNNMoney.
11:20 a.m.: Democrats are discounting the idea that Republican leaders will encourage Donald Trump to step aside as their presidential nominee and urge voters to rally behind Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence.
Donna Brazile — interim head of the Democratic National Committee — notes that some states have begun early voting and mailed absentee ballots with Trump’s name on it. Brazile says attempts to change the ballots would be “very confusing” to voters.
She suggested on ABC’s “This Week” that Democratic Party lawyers probably would fight any efforts by states to change the names on the ballot — if it came to that.
11:15 a.m.: The chairman of the House Ethics Committee says there’s still time for Republicans to rally behind an alternative to Donald Trump as their presidential nominee.
GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania says he hopes House Speaker Paul Ryan and party chairman Reince Priebus will withdraw their endorsements of Trump.
Here’s what Dent tells ABC’s “This Week”: “As a party leader, I think at times you have to stand up and do some pretty difficult things and this may be one of them right now.”
Dent floated a few names, including Robert Gates, defense secretary under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama; Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under Bush; Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who sought the GOP presidential nomination; or Mitch Daniel, a former Indiana governor.
10:15 a.m.: Donald Trump is lashing out at the growing list of Republicans abandoning his candidacy, predicting that they're the ones who will lose.
Trump on Sunday tweeted: “So many self-righteous hypocrites. Watch their poll numbers — and elections — go down!”
Trump has also been re-tweeting a series of messages from supporters, including one that lashes out at "GOP traitors!" and says not supporting is voting for "destroying America."
Another says “Republican leadership' should have only one job: Help elect the nominee we voted for, Donald J. Trump.”
Trump has faced a mass exodus of support in the wake of the release of crude video footage in which he brags about making unwanted sexual advances on women.
10 a.m.: Washington University in St. Louis will be the center of the media and political universe Sunday evening as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will spar in the election’s second debate, which starts at 8 p.m.
But before 10 a.m. Sunday, all was relatively quiet on campus. A few students milled around, police officers stood guard and members of the media hauled equipment from a parking garage to the media filing center, a temporary newsroom set up in a practice gym on campus that’s set up to hold 750 reporters.
U.S. Secret Service agents and police posted at the entrance to a federally protected zone surrounding the debate venue probed bags and briefcases and searched anyone who was authorized to enter that zone.
9:30 a.m.: Donald Trump backer Rudy Giuliani says Trump is embarrassed by the airing of a tape in which the Republican presidential nominee makes vulgar and predatory remarks about women.
But — in Giuliani’s words — “it seems to me, we should move on.”
The former New York City mayor tells ABC’s “This Week” that Trump is “very, very embarrassed and contrite about it.”
When asked whether Trump’s comments described sexual assault, Giuliani said “that’s what he’s talking about.” But Giuliani isn’t sure whether Trump was exaggerating, as “some men” do.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.