In keeping with their previous meetings, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had some memorable moments during the final presidential debate in Las Vegas. Moderator Chris Wallace seemed to steer the debate in a more controlled direction than was the case in the other two debates. However, the two candidates could not help interrupting each other and tossing a few barbs across the stage.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the debate was when Trump refused to say that he would accept the result of the election if he lost. Instead, he said, “I will look at it at the time” and vowed to keep America in suspense. Clinton called this comment “horrifying.” In recent speeches, Trump has been accusing the election system of being “rigged” and talking about voter fraud. Clinton hit him for not having faith in the system, saying, “When you are whining before the game is even finished, it shows you that you aren’t up for the job.”
The first discussion of the debate revolved around the Supreme Court and how it would rule on issues like gun control and abortion. While Clinton said that she supports the Second Amendment, she also said she believes that there must be regulations such as comprehensive background checks. Trump said that he was “a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment” and that he was proud to have the National Rifle Association’s endorsement.
On abortion, Trump advocated for the states to have the ultimate say over whether abortion is legal, and re-affirmed his opposition to partial-birth abortion in graphic terms. Clinton gave a strong defense of Roe v. Wade and condemned Trump for using “scare rhetoric” about late-term abortions.
Familiar issues came up in the debate. Clinton attacked Trump for being too friendly with Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying that Putin “would rather have a puppet as a president.” Trump said he would welcome better relations with Russia, and accused Clinton of being upset that Putin had outsmarted her when she was secretary of state.
As was the case in the past, the two disagreed over immigration, but both competed to sound a tougher line on trade deals. Clinton reaffirmed her desire to raise taxes in those who earn higher incomes, while Trump promised personal and business tax cuts.
The continuing saga of sexual harassment accusation against Trump also came up, with Trump claiming that the stories about him assaulting women “have been largely debunked.” He also blamed these stories on the Clinton campaign. He asserted, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.” Clinton claimed, “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger.”
One of the last issues to be discussed was entitlement reform, with moderator Wallace laying out the fiscal issues that are looming due to projected shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security. Neither candidate offered a plan that would deal with this issue. Clinton said she would raise payroll tax cap and put more money in Social Security trust fund, but she would not cut benefits. If fact, she called for enhancing benefits for women and low-income workers. Trump said that cutting taxes would grow the economy, which will help with the entitlement issue. He also called for a repeal of Obamacare.
Compared to debates in other presidential elections, the Clinton-Trump face-offs have featured far more personal attacks than we have seen in the past. While this has produced good TV, it is unclear if this series of debates changed the minds of many voters.
What do you think about the debates between these two candidates? Did anything they said affect how you are going to vote?