By Dorian Armstrong
On Wednesday, Oct. 20, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met in Las Vegas for their third and final debate. The debate followed new allegations that Trump had sexually abused women, and that people working for Clinton had conspired to sabotage Trump’s rallies and possibly rig the election, forcing both candidates to make clear their approach to resolving those scandals.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News kept strict time limits on each of the topic segments, starting with an open discussion of the future of the Supreme Court.
“The justices that I am going to appoint will be pro-life,” Trump began. “They will have a conservative bent. They will be protecting the Second Amendment.” Trump mentioned that he might want to overturn Roe v. Wade and create a federal ban on abortion, saying “that will happen automatically” if he is elected.
Clinton, meanwhile, took an anti-intervention stance on abortion, outlining the freedom of choice she believes the pro-choice movement represents.“Government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith, with medical advice,” Clinton said. “And I will stand up for that right.”
When Wallace brought up the subject of immigration, he pushed Clinton to explain her support of “a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders,” as shown in speech transcripts leaked by Wikileaks. Clinton instead opted to attack the fact that Russia helped leak those emails, and that Trump was apparently OK with that.
“We’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election,” Clinton said. “We have 17, 17 intelligence agencies — civilian and military — who have all concluded that these espionage attacks — these cyber attacks — come from the highest levels of the Kremlin. And they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.”
Clinton claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “would rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”
“No puppet,” Trump replied back. “You’re the puppet.” A little later, Trump said, “I never met Putin. This is not my best friend. But if the United States got along with Russia, it wouldn’t be so bad.”
Trump then dismissed the claims of nine women who all claimed he had sexually assaulted them over the years.“Those stories have been largely debunked,” Trump said, looking to lay out evidence of Democratic corruption and election rigging that would outweigh the assault charges.
“I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence,” Trump said in reference to violent protesters who forced him to postpone some of his rallies. “She’s the one, and Obama, that caused the violence. They hired people. They paid them $1,500, and they’re on tape saying, ‘Be violent, cause fights, do bad things.’”
Wallace then asked if this meant Trump would refuse to accept the results of the election. “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time,” Trump said. “I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?”
Clinton didn’t appreciate his response.“Let me respond to that because that’s horrifying,” Clinton added. “This is a mindset. This is how Donald thinks, and it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works.”
Determined to end the night on a high note, Wallace prompted the candidates to give impromptu closing statements, despite them agreeing not to give any beforehand.
“I’m reaching out to all Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents,” Clinton said. “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.”
Trump’s closing remarks were all too familiar: “We are going to make America great again.”
After thanking the candidates for their statements, Wallace closed the debate by asking the audience and the American public to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.