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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, left, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrive before the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Rick T. Wilking/Pool via AP)

It took 29 minutes for the candidates to stop mudslinging and get to a policy question


It took 29 minutes for the candidates to stop mudslinging and get to a policy question

Watch  | The first 30 minutes of the debate had nothing to do with U.S policy.

The unprecedentedly hostile tone of Sunday night's second presidential debate was set the moment Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump walked on stage, when the candidates refused to shake hands, defying decades of presidential debate tradition.

What happened next was 29 minutes of mudslinging  -- mudslinging over Donald Trump's 2005 sexually aggressive comments about women, Hillary Clinton's e-mails, and Bill Clinton's alleged sexual misconduct, among other things.

In those first 29 minutes, the candidates did not address a single issue regarding U.S. policy.

Reporters across Twitter noticed the timestamp.

Things changed after those first 30 minutes, though.

The first question: healthcare

At the 29 minute mark, an audience member finally got a policy question in. 

"Affordable Care Act, known as Obama care," Ken Karpowitz  said. "It is not affordable. Premiums have gone up. Deductibles have gone up. Co-pays have gone up. Prescriptions have gone up. And the coverage has gone down. What will you do to bring the costs down and make coverage better?"

Awkward exchange

It took a few seconds for the candidates to get out of mudslinging mode for the question, though. Before answering, there was this awkward exchange over who should go first.

Clinton:  "He wants to start, he can start. Now go-ahead, Donald."

Trump:  "No, I'm a gentleman. Hillary, go ahead."

Clinton:  "OK, Donald."

The tone cooled over the course of the next 60 minutes, and the candidates did wind up tackling of number of U.S. policy issues -- energy policy, healthcare, foreign policy, and national security among them.

But it's those first 30 minutes -- where the candidates attacked each others' personality and character -- that will likely make the most headlines come Monday morning. 

For more specifics on what the candidates have said so far, check out our live updates here.

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