The last general election debate ended the way the first primary debate began with a question about Donald Trump accepting the outcome. As he did in that first primary debate, Trump refused to make a commitment. It is the public’s reaction to Trump’s refusal that will determine who won the third debate and possibly the election. Not because his refusal was so bad (although there will be independents who will find it a major turn-off) but because he gave an already hostile press the opportunity to ignore the good answers he gave last night. Before that answer Trump had won the third debate, afterwards the question of who won the debate is up in the air.
The one clear winner was moderator Chris Wallace, he asked both sides pointed questions, did not attempt to fact check and allowed the candidates to confront each other. Unlike the first two presidential debates, Chris Wallace was a moderator rather than a participant.
Trump started off great, looking presidential, giving clear policy answers, pointing out Clinton’s failures as a senator and secretary of state, the growing scandals regarding her campaign, and her flip flops as a candidate.
The discussion started with the Supreme court. Hillary Clinton lied about the substance of, and he reaction to the Supreme Court’s District of Columbia v Heller decision. She claimed it was about keeping guns from children. Trump gave an excellent answer about Roe v Wade throwing down his pro-life gauntlet while focusing on late-term abortions.
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“I think it’s terrible, if you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby… that’s not acceptable.”
Trump effectively integrated WikiLeaks and the Project Veritas videos into the discussion, in fact Veritas led to Clinton’s worst moment of the night:
When asked about the rash of women coming out saying that he groped them, Trump pivoted by bringing up the Clinton dirty trick squad and Project Veritas video about the campaign hiring people to incite violence at his rallies.
“I believe it was her campaign that did it just like if you look at what came out today on the clips where I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence. She’s the one and Obama that caused the violence. They hired people. They paid them $1500, and they’re on tape saying be violent, cause fights, do bad things. I would say the only way — because those stories are all totally false. I have to say that, and I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is sitting right here because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, the woman on the – I think they want either fame or her campaign did it. And I think it’s her campaign because what I saw what they did, which is a criminal act, by the way, where they’re telling people to go out and start fistfights and start violence — and I’ll tell you what. In particular, in Chicago, people were hurt and people could have killed in that riot. And that’s now all on tape started by her. I believe, Chris, she got these people to step forward. If it wasn’t, they get their ten minutes of fame, but they were all totally — it was all fiction. It was lies and it was fiction.”
Later in the debate Clinton went after Trump for some of his undiplomatic statements but what she really did was “lead the punch with her chin.”
Clinton: This is a pattern, a pattern of divisiveness, of a very dark and in many ways dangerous vision of our country where he incites violence, where he applauds people who are pushing and pulling and punching at his rallies. That is not who America is, and I hope that as we move in the last weeks of this campaign more and more people will understand what’s at stake in this election. It really does come down to what kind of country we are going to have.
Trump zinged back: So sad when she talks about violence at my rallies and she caused the violence. It’s on tape. The other things are false, but honestly I’d love to talk about getting rid of ISIS and I’d love to talk about other things.
One of the episode that most insulted the liberal elite occurred during the discussion about illegal immigration. Trump mentioned that some of the people entering illegally commit crimes when they get to the U.S., and continued, “We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.” Apparently to the liberal elitists that is a racist term, IMHO they’re nuts.
Another fun episode was the twitter-storm over Trump’s use of the word ‘bigly.” Yes America it is a word. Fiona McPherson, a senior editor with the Oxford English Dictionary ruled, “Bigly” can mean “with great force”, she says.
With five minutes left in the debate Donald Trump was the clear winner–until Chris Wallace asked,
“Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election?”
Trump’s answer was that he will let us know at the time.
Yes its true Gore objected to the 2000 election results (and he did so at the urging of Hillary Clinton’s husband Bubba). And even after the Supreme Court made their ruling about the extent of the Florida recount, many Democrats still believed Bush was not a legitimate president.
As Jim Geraghty aptly pointed out, in 2002 Senator Clinton was still arguing against the results of the election:
At a private fund-raiser in Los Angeles for Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan of Missouri, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told the crowd that President Bush merely had been “selected” president, not elected, Newsweek reports in the current issue.
But Gore wasn’t fighting against a perception that they didn’t have the right attitude to be the president, right or wrong Donald Trump is fighting that perception. Thanks to a capable moderator this was the first of the three debates that talked substantially about the issues, but rather than making his positions and policies the issue, Donald Trump made accepting the result of the election the issue.
Whether or not that answer hurt his chances will be seen shortly.
Trump’s answer to the last question which was basically his final pitch was great sadly his response may have been over-shadowed by his accepting the election result’s answer. I will leave you with that final case which if he is to have any chance to win, he should stick to the issues he mentioned below:
But when I started this campaign, I started it very strongly. It’s called Make America Great Again. We’re going to make America great. We have a depleted military. It has to be helped. It has to be fixed. We have the greatest people on Earth in our military. We don’t take care of our veterans. We take care of illegal immigrants, people that come into our country illegally better than we take care of our vets. That can’t happen. Our policemen and women are disrespected. We need law and order, but we need justice too. Our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs. I will do more for African-Americans and Latinos that she can do for ten lifetimes. All she’s done is talk to the African-Americans and to the Latinos, but they get the vote and then they come back, they say ‘we’ll see you in four years.’ We are going to make America strong again and we are going to make America great again and it has to start now. We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama, and that’s what you get when you get her.