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At the debate, Trump made it clear: He’s back to being unapologetically Trump

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At the debate, Trump made it clear: He’s back to being unapologetically Trump

WATCH  | Donald Trump's body language at the second presidential debate

It seems like only yesterday that rank-and-file Republicans were trying to rein in Donald Trump, and turn the blustery billionaire into a polished, presentable candidate for president.

For a while, it seemed to be working -- so much so that for the first debate last month, Hillary Clinton was said to have been preparing for two different versions of Trump. Version one: The original Trump, unscripted and unpredictable. Version two: A more reserved, self-controlled Trump.

If Sunday's debate made anything clear, it's this: Version two is a memory.

These four very courageous women have asked to be here, and it was our honor to help them.
Donald Trump, at the pre-debate 'press conference'

The evidence of Trump 1.0's emergence started piling up before the debate even began.

Instead of laying low and preparing the debate, Trump held a surprise "press conference" with women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault.


Pacing, frowning

In the first 30 minutes of the actual debate, Trump came out swinging with personal attacks against Clinton, accusing her of "laughing" at a rape victim, and threatening to prosecute her over her 33,000 deleted e-mails.

He said Clinton "would be in jail" if he were elected president.

And Trump Version 1.0  was present in his body language, too. While Clinton mostly sat during Trump's answers, Trump frequently paced behind Clinton as she was giving hers, squinting, frowning and shaking his head. 

His unusual body language drew a bunch of attention from observers on Twitter.

Clinton prepared for unrestrained Trump

Clinton, who had reportedly prepared extensively, seemed to know which Trump she was going to get Sunday night -- and decided to counter his aggression mostly with restraint.

This, for instance, was her response when faced with Trump's allegations that her husband Bill Clinton sexually assaulted women: "When they go low, you go high."

At times, Clinton even left some of Trump's accusations unanswered, seemingly just to look like the adult in the room.

Clinton loses her cool

If restraint was her intent, however, Clinton did at times falter. There were a few moments where she could not resist lashing back at her opponent.


The most memorable instance by far came when Trump interrupted her in the first half of the debate.

"Donald, I know you're into big diversion tonight - anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it's exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you," she said.

Where did Trump Version 2.0 go?

After Sunday's debate ended, Clinton seemed to confirm that she knew Trump would be his more unhinged self.  "I saw what I expected to see," she said as she boarded her plane home. 

If she did indeed expect a more blustery Trump, she'd have good reason. Because the main reason for the more calm, careful Trump Version 2.0 to exist -- to please mainstream Republicans -- seems to be falling apart. 

'Never drop out'

On Friday, leaked audio from 2005 showed Donald Trump bragging about groping and kissing women with impunity.

The political reaction was stunning: On Saturday, many of those same Republicans who once tried to rein Trump in began rescinding their support for him. Many even called for him to drop out of the race.

In the face of all this, Trump apologized, but remained defiant. "Increasingly isolated and upset," the New York Times  reported, he vowed to remain in the race. "I WILL NEVER DROP OUT OF THE RACE, WILL NEVER LET MY SUPPORTERS DOWN!" he tweeted.

'Don't wanna change'

As those mainstream, high-profile Republicans abandon him, though, what remains are Trump's loyal supporters -- the ones who likely prefer Trump Version 1.0. After all, that's the version who captured their attention in the first place.

And Trump seemingly prefers that version, too. "I am who I am," Trump said in August.  "I don't wanna change." If mainstream Republicans continue to withdraw their support for Trump, he won't have to change -- and the Trump we saw in this debate will be the ones we see in the debates to come.

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