On a night of many firsts in US election politics, the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump began with each candidate declining to shake hands with the other.
The absence of physical contact was a sign of how quickly the political climate has degenerated since their first meeting, and though it was not an unexpected reaction on the part of either candidate, it was a jarring scene nonetheless for anyone accustomed to the tradition of civility between even the bitterest of enemies at these formal debates.
Neither candidate left the other hanging; Trump and Clinton seemed equally uninterested in the niceties beyond saying a curt “hello” to one another. In that sense, neither candidate can claim a moral or strategic victory; it was, at best, a draw. But supporters on either side will have seen in it a sign of strength and adamance in their candidate.
The night was not completely devoid of tense handshakes between sides, though. When the families of the candidates were brought into the hall, Bill Clinton shook hands with Melania Trump and the children of Donald Trump who attended the debate.