There was a clear winner of the third and final presidential debate (watch it in 8 minutes above, or watch the full debate here) and it was not Donald Trump.
He had few wins in a discourse littered with insults, with fabricated vocabulary (bigly, swatches?), and laced with racism, xenophobia, and misogyny – all in all, a typical night for Donald Trump.
But here’s the moment the debate ended, which came about 20 minutes before the end of the debate. Moderator Mike Wallace brought up Trump’s recent allegations of a “rigged’ election and his running mate’s recent pledge to accept the results.
THREAT TO DEMOCRACY
Asked Wallace: “I want to ask you here on this stage tonight do, you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?”
“I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I will look at it at the time. What I’ve seen, what I’ve seen is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt. And the pile-on is so amazing. The New York Times actually wrote an article about it, that they don’t even care. It’s so dishonest. And they have poisoned the minds of the voters. But unfortunately for them, I think the voters are seeing through it. I think they’re going to see through it. We’ll find out on November 8.”
“Sir, there is a tradition in this country, in fact one of the primes of this country is the peaceful transition of power. And that no matter how hard fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner. But that the loser concedes to the winner, and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?”
Quipped Trump: “What I’m saying is I’ll tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?”
“This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks. And it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling. Now that is not the way our democracy works. We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair election. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”
And that was the moment the debate had ended, with Trump revealed what a threat he is to the democratic process.
Here were some of the other highlights.
SUPREME COURT, MARRIAGE EQUALITY
The first question was about the Supreme Court. It gave Trump an opportunity to make his first attack on a woman: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Something happened recently where Justice Ginsburg made some very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent, and she was forced to apologize, and apologize she did. But these were statements that should never, ever have been made.”
And Clinton said it was important for her to protect marriage equality and the rights of the LGBT community, uphold Roe v. Wade, and reverse Citizens United.
ROE V WADE, ABORTION
Wallace then proceeded with something more specific: Do you want the court to overturn Roe v Wade?
Trump refused a yes or no answer: “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that will happen. And that will happen automatically in my opinion because I’m putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this, it will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination.”
Wallace: Secretary Clinton?
“I strongly support Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a constitutional right to a woman to make the most intimate, most difficult in many cases decisions about her health care that one can imagine. And in this case it’s not only about Roe v. Wade. It is about what’s happening right now in America. So many states are putting very stringent regulations on women that block them from exercising that choice to the extent that they are defunding Planned Parenthood, which, of course, provides all kinds of cancer screenings and other benefits for women in our country.”
The question led into an ugly exchange about partial-birth abortion, in which Trump graphically described ripping babies out of wombs, and Clinton denounced him for using “scare rhetoric”.
“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,” said Trump.
BAD HOMBRES, IMMIGRATION
The debate moved on to immigration, and Trump offered up a phrase that immediately was echoed across social media: “bad hombres”.
“One of my first acts will be to get all of the drug lords, we have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out. We’ll get them out, secure the border, and once the border is secured, at a later date we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.”
WIKILEAKS, VLADIMIR PUTIN, HACKING
But the key moment in the immigration debate came when Clinton pivoted and dropped a piece of bait that Trump gobbled up with gusto, exposing one of his personality flaws – he feels slighted, he has to respond even when he’ll end up destroying himself.
After Chris Wallace asked a question about a speech Clinton was paid $225,000 for by a Brazilian bank in which she talked about open borders (to which Trump replied “thank you” because it was a point he neglected to make), Clinton pivoted to the topic of Vladimir Putin – using Wikileaks as the excuse.
And Trump even complimented her for the pivot.
“Well, if you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy. You know, we trade more energy with our neighbors than we trade with the rest of the world combined. And I do want us to have an electric grid, energy system that crosses borders. I think that would be a great benefit to us. But you are very clearly quoting from wikileaks and what’s really important about wikileaks is that the Russian government has engaged in espionage against Americans. They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given that information to Wikileaks for the purpose of putting it on the internet.
“This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from Putin himself, in an effort, as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed to influence our election. So I actually think the most important question of this evening, Chris, is finally will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election, that he rejects Russian espionage against Americans which he actually encouraged in the past?
“Those are the questions we need answered. We’ve never had anything like this happen in any of our elections before.”
YOU’RE THE PUPPET
The exchange then devolved into a dialogue that birthed another meme: the puppet, as Clinton accused Trump of cozying up to the Russian president.
Clinton: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president.
Trump: No puppet, no puppet.
Clinton: And it’s pretty clear —
Trump: You’re the puppet.
Clinton: It’s pretty clear you won’t admit.
Trump: No, you’re the puppet.
And it got very contentious from there:
30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
Moving on to the economy, Clinton had hit her stride. She offered one of the “mic drop” moments of the entire campaign, talking about her 30 years of experience after being accused of Trump of not getting anything done in those 30 years.
“Let me just talk briefly about that. You know, back in the 1970s, I worked for Children’s Defense Fund, and I was taking on discrimination against African-American kids in schools. He was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings. In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was bore rogue $14 million from his father to start his businesses. In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights. He insulted a former miss universe, Alicia Machado, called her an eating machine.
“And on the day when I was in the situation room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was host “The Celebrity Apprentice.” So I’m happy to compare my 30 years of experience, what I’ve done for this country, trying to help in every way I could, especially kids and families get ahead and stay ahead with your 30 years. And I’ll let the American people make that decision.”
TRUMP AND WOMEN
Wallace then moved on to the topic of the dozens of women (Wallace says nine) who have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual abuse in the last few weeks.
Trump says all the women’s claims have been debunked at points the finger at Clinton.
The audience actually laughed when Trump claimed, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody. Nobody has more respect.”
Clinton replies that Trump never apologizes for anything:
“Well, every time Donald has pushed on something which is obviously uncomfortable like what these women are saying, he immediately goes to denying responsibility. And it’s not just about women. He never apologizes or says he is sorry for anything. So we know what he has said and what he has done to women. But he also went after a disabled reporter —
“He mocked and Mr and Mrs. Khan on national television. He went after Mr. And Mrs. Khan, the parents of Han who died serving our country, a gold star family because of their religion. He went after John McCain, a prisoner of war. Said he prefers people who aren’t captured. He went after a federal judge, born in Indiana but who Donald said couldn’t be trusted to try the fraud and racketeering case against Trump University because his parents were Mexican.
“So it’s not one thing. 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.”
She also added this about his behavior toward women:
After an exchange about the Clinton Foundation vs the Trump Foundation, Clinton delivered one of the better zingers of the night, turning the focus to Trump’s unreleased tax returns.
Wallace pointed out that money from the Trump Foundation was used for Donald’s personal expenses, specifically to settle a lawsuit.
“But of course there is no way we can know whether any of that is true because he hasn’t released his tax returns. He is the first candidate ever to run for president in the last 40 plus years who has not released his tax returns. Serving what he says about charity or anything else we can’t prove it. You can look at our tax returns. We’ve got them all out there. But what is really troubling is that we learned in the last debate he has not paid a penny in federal income tax. And we were talking about immigrants a few minutes ago, Chris. Half of all immigrants, undocumented immigrants in our country actually pay federal income tax. We have undocumented immigrants in America who are paying more federal income tax than a billionaire. I find that just astonishing.”
It was after this exchange that Trump made the disqualifying statement at the top of this post that he might not accept the results of the election, and frankly, after that, the debate was over. Social media was going wild with this revelation.
SUCH A NASTY WOMAN
But one more moment really stuck out. As Clinton was explaining her policy on social security and medicare, Trump interjected, “such a nasty woman.”
This from the man who allegedly has more respect for women than anyone.
What did you think of the debate?