At acrimonious final debate, Trump won't commit to accepting election result
NEVADA, Las Vegas - At the third and final U.S. presidential debate in Las Vegas, both presidential nominees made no attempt at fulfilling the basic pleasantries, even skipping the customary handshake at the start.
Unlike the previous debates, this debate was, however, more focused on substantive issues such as immigration, economy, foreign policy and the Supreme Court, as well as the ongoing crisis in Syria.
The fiery debate took place under the shadow of the controversies surrounding Donald Trump, with several women opening up over the last few days about his past sexual demeanours.
Donald Trump, once again, denied all charges, claiming they were an attempt to malign his campaign.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has, over the past couple of weeks been forced to deal with the disclosure of thousands of stolen campaign emails, with some claiming Russian involvement in the cyberattacks.
While there may not have been any significant winner or loser, there was no significant damage to Hillary Clinton's campaign following the debate. In the clear lead according to the latest polls, she is currently the favourite in the race for the White House.
The debate started off in a composed fashion, during which both candidates put forth their views on guns, Supreme Court appointments, taxes and the economy.
However, less than an hour later, Donald Trump was calling Hillary Clinton “a nasty woman,” a liar and a failure, going so far as to say he might not accept the results of the election if she wins.
In turn, Clinton said she found it “horrifying” that he would not accept the will of the people on November 8.
Discussing the issues of abortion and the Supreme Court, Clinton said she would appoint justices who uphold legalised abortion, same-sex marriage and rein in unlimited political contributions. Trump said he would appoint justices that would overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalised abortion and would strictly uphold expansive gun rights.
During a debate on immigration, Trump accused Clinton of favouring amnesty for millions of people in the country without proper documentation, calling that unfair to those who entered the country properly.
“We either have a country or we don’t,” said Trump, also declaring that there were some “bad hombres” in the United States. Clinton said she favoured tough border security but not going “school to school, home to home, business to business rounding up people who are undocumented,” as she said Trump’s policy would require.
Tempers flared, Trump's in particular, when he started to defend himself against charges of sexual impropriety.
“These stories are all totally false,” he said firmly. “I didn’t know any of these women - I didn’t see these women…. I think they want either fame, or her campaign did it, and I think it’s her campaign.”
Clinton pointed out that Trump had earlier denied the allegations, in part, by suggesting the women were not attractive enough to draw his interest.
Setting aside all niceties, Trump also repeatedly attacked Clinton's character.
He said putting Clinton in the White House would do nothing to bring about the change he said the country desperately needs, insisting her more than 30 years in public life had accomplished nothing.
And in a shocker, when asked if he would respect the election verdict, following earlier allegations that the election may be "rigged," Trump declared, "I will look at it at the time."
"I’ll keep you in suspense,” drawing gasps from the Vegas audience.
“That’s horrifying,” Clinton said in response. “Let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means. He is denigrating - he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”
A bitter exchange on Russia also ensued. Clinton demanded that Trump “make it clear he will not take the help of Putin in this election, and that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans.”
Striking back, Trump claimed Clinton was trying to deflect the discussion away from another of the WikiLeaks disclosures.
“That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders,” Trump said. “I don’t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well that would be good…. He has no respect for her, he has no respect for our president, and I’ll tell you what, we are in very serious trouble.”
Clinton shot back, “That’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States,” referring to Putin’s praise of Trump. “You’re the puppet,” Trump responded.
The presidential nominees also put forth their views on their respective plans for the economy and taxes.
Clinton described Trump as a hypocrite, accusing him of crying “crocodile tears” over manufacturers moving abroad while noting that he uses foreign steel for his hotel in Las Vegas. That prompted a ferocious counterattack from Trump, demanding why she had not done more to improve the economy during her years in public life. And towards the end of the debate, when Clinton needled Trump on social security, the Republican nominee snapped and said, “Such a nasty woman.”
The debate ended with moderator Chris Wallace urging everyone to vote.
Like the start, both candidates, once again, did not shake hands, only shaking hands with the moderator instead.
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