The final showdown: Trump and Clinton duke it out at final presidential debate
The final presidential debate took place on Wednesday night at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Chris Wallace, Fox News reporter, moderated the debate and prepared his own questions for both candidates.
The third debate had arguably the most substantive discussion on policy issues, including the Supreme Court, the economy and fitness for president. Republican candidate Donald Trump said he wouldn’t accept the election’s outcome, which commentators regarded as one of the most memorable moments of the debate. Trump said this in the wake of his comments that the election is rigged against him.
Wallace asked both candidates how they would select a Supreme Court judge. Clinton said she would appoint candidates who would support women, the LGBTQ community and work to overturn Citizens United.
Trump said he would appoint someone with a “conservative bent” who would protect the Second Amendment. Wallace asked if he would support overturning Roe v. Wade, which forbids federal regulation of women’s healthcare, specifically the right to an abortion.
“If you go with what Hillary is saying, you can take baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” Trump said. “Now, you can say that that is OK and Hillary can say that that is OK, but it's not OK with me.”
Clinton condemned Trump’s words as “scare rhetoric” and said she would continue to support a woman’s right to choose.
Wallace asked Trump about his promise to build a wall between the Southern border and Mexico and Trump agreed he would. Trump promised to deport drug lords and secure the border.
“We have some bad hombres and we're going to get them out,” Trump said.
Clinton said she would instead propose a comprehensive immigration reform plan, which would provide a pathway for citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Wikileaks, open borders and Russia
Wallace asked Clinton about a speech in which she advocated for open borders, which was released through email hacked by Wikileaks. Clinton turned the question toward the topic of Russian interference in the election on behalf of Trump.
Trump pointed out Clinton’s deflection, saying, “That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders,” to an outburst of audience applause.
Trump went on to insist he does not know Putin and said it was impossible for U.S. intelligence officials to know Russia is responsible for the hacks.
Fitness for president
Wallace asked the candidates about their fitness for the presidency. Trump pointed out Clinton’s long tenure in politics and asked why she didn’t fix more problems sooner. Clinton countered that her record over the last 30 years still outweighed Trump’s.
"On the day when I was in the Situation Room, overseeing the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the Celebrity Apprentice," Clinton said.
Wallace asked Trump directly to explain his remarks that the election is “rigged” against him. Wallace asked if Trump would accept the outcome of the election, regardless of who wins.
Trump refused to say he would accept the election outcome.
“I will look at it at the time, I'm not looking at anything now,” Trump said. "What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense, OK?”
Clinton called Trump’s claims “horrifying” and listed various times Trump claimed situations were rigged because he was losing. Trump responded saying his TV show “The Apprentice” should’ve won an Emmy award and the awards show was in fact rigged.
Wallace asked the candidates about their proposals to improve the economy, noting Clinton’s proposal called for increased government involvement while Trump’s proposal called for deregulation. Clinton reiterated how she planned to help the middle class by raising taxes only on individuals making more than $250,000 a year.
Trump countered that Clinton would double everyone’s taxes and his tax plan would bring jobs back and renegotiate trade in the U.S.’s favor.
Wallace questioned Trump further on his tax plan, pointing out many economists have called it “unrealistic.”
“Even conservative economists have said that the numbers don’t add up,” Wallace said.
Trump said the job growth under the Obama administration has been so poor, after the last job report he should win the presidency “easily.”
Treatment of women
Wallace asked Trump to address the nine allegations of sexual assault against him in the last two weeks, to which Trump shifted blame to Clinton and her campaign.
“I didn’t even apologize to my wife, who is sitting right here, because I didn’t do anything,” Trump said.
He said he did not know the accusers and that they either want “fame” or were planted by the Clinton campaign.
“Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” Trump said.
The audience laughed at this statement and Wallace chided them to be quiet.
The candidates were asked to give minute-long closing statements. Clinton said she was asking Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike to support her.
“We need everybody to help make our country what it should be, to grow the economy, to make it fairer, to make it work for everyone,” Clinton said. “We need your talents, your skills, your commitments, your energy, your ambition.”
Trump promised to do more for African-American and Latinos than Clinton could do “in ten lifetimes.”
“We are going to make America strong again, and we are going to make America great again and it has to start now,” Trump said. “We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama, and that's what you get when you get her.”
Wallace ended the night urging viewers to vote.
“One thing everyone here can agree on: We hope you will go vote,” Wallace said. “It is one of the honors and obligations of living in this great country.”
The presidential election is on Nov. 8.
Sarah Crowley is the assistant news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org