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Why Dick Durbin Was Captured In Plenty Of Debate Photographs: The Scoop On The Debate Seating Chart

Screenshot - New York Times (Stephen Crowley)

If you watched Sunday night's presidential debate on television, chances are you caught a glimpse of Illinois' senior U.S. Senator in the audience. But his title is not why cameras turned in Dick Durbin's direction.

Before the debate began, Durbin says be noticed something curious. The row of seats just in front of his was empty: "I kept thinking: Why would they have an empty front row?"

Then, he said, "comes Rudy Giuliani, like an usher. Leading them all up there. And I thought, 'Well maybe it's Rudy Giuliani's family.' I don't know what it is. I really didn't know what it was."

Giuliani had seated four women who'd just held a press conference with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Three accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual abuse; the fourth woman was upset that when she was 12-years-old in 1975, Hillary Clinton served as the defense lawyer for her accused rapist.

The presence of the women was part of Donald Trump's unorthodox method of fighting fallout from the revelation of a tape on which he's heard bragging of sexual exploits.

Durbin says the accusations against Bill Clinton are "ancient history," while Americans want to move forward.

He says Trump's 2005 comments fit a pattern of "derisive and hateful” speech throughout this election cycle.

Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, of the Quad Cities, and Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez, were also seated right behind the Clinton accusers.

Durbin made his comments in Springfield, before casting an early vote. He encouraged others to do the same. "More and more people in Illinois are voting early. And once you do vote by mail, or come in early, that becomes your way to do things. A pattern of life," he said.

Early voting has been on the rise in Illinois since it was first offered in 2006.

Before then, anyone unable to vote on election day in person had to give authorities a reason for requesting an “absentee ballot.”

As he headed to the polls, Durbin said he would vote for a constitutional amendment that guarantees transportation funding, in addition to his votes for Hillary Clinton and Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic Congresswoman vying to win Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk's seat.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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