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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did not shake hands at the start of their second debate

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stands next to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
At ease.
  • Heather Landy
By Heather Landy

Executive editor of Quartz

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

Follow our live blog of the second 2016 US presidential debate here.

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