You can weigh in by voting in our poll at the bottom of the post on who you think won the debate.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace moderated the tense 90-minute debate which covered six areas of discussion: entitlements and debt, immigration, the Supreme Court, the economy, foreign policy and the fitness of each candidate for the highest elected office in the United States.
Trump, who has recently claimed that the election is rigged against him, refused to say on Wednesday night that he would accept the results of the presidential election.
Clinton called his answer “horrifying,” and accused him of “talking down our democracy.”
The debate was Trump’s last chance to sway potential voters after a dismal October. Clinton appears poised to capture many of the decisive battleground states as the Nov. 8 election quickly approaches.
Prior to the second debate on October 9, Trump’s campaign was reeling from the release of a 2005 tape, which captured the real estate mogul making lewd comments about women.
During the second presidential debate, Trump said he was embarrassed by the tape, but repeatedly called the comments “just locker room talk.”
In the last week, many women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Trump. In response, Trump has made a series of claims over the last several days that call into question the fairness of the presidential election. On Sunday, Trump posted on Twitter that he believed the results were being “rigged” in Clinton’s favor. He’s also suggested that the election could be “stolen” from him as the result of “large scale voter fraud,” and has lashed out against House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Clinton has also been hit with negative headlines after the FBI released the latest notes on its investigation into her use of a private email server during her tenure at secretary of state.
The FBI documents included claims that a top State Department official sought a “quid pro quo” with the bureau in a bid to lower the classification on a Clinton server email in return for State Department approval of more FBI agents abroad.
Documents published by WikiLeaks that were purportedly sent by her campaign chairman, John Podesta include revelations about the Clinton Foundation, and Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street.
Read on for a recap of Wednesday’s debate.
Just like the second presidential debate, Trump and Clinton did not shake hands at the start. Instead, they went straight to their lecterns.
Wallace asked: “Where do you want to see the court take the country and secondly what’s your view on how the Constitution should be interpreted?”
Clinton said: “When we talk about the Supreme Court, it really raises the central issue in this election, namely what kind of country are we going to be?”
She hit on issues including abortion, and gay marriage.
“I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and wealthy. For me that means that we need a Supreme Court that stands up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United.”
“The Supreme Court is what it’s all about,” Trump said in response to the same question.
He criticized Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her disparaging remarks about him. He then shifted the discussion to gun control.
“The Second Amendment which is under absolute siege. I believe if my opponent were to win this race, which I truly don’t think will happen, we will have a Second Amendment which will be a very small replica of what it is now,” Trump said.
He said will appoint justices who view “the Constitution the way it was meant to be.”
The Second Amendment
Clinton said she was raised in favor of gun ownership, but is in favor of comprehensive background checks and other measures that are “sensible.”
“The kind of reforms that would make a difference that are not in any way conflicting with the Second Amendment,” she said.
“What I would like to see is people coming together and say. ‘Of course we are going to protect and defend the Second Amendment, but we would like to do it in a way that saves some of the 30,000 lives we lose every year.’”
Trump responded by saying:
Let me just tell you before we go any further, in Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States, probably you could say by far they have more gun violence than any other city. So we have the toughest laws and you have tremendous gun violence.
I am a very strong supporter of the second amendment. And I don’t know if Hillary was saying it in a sarcastic manner but I’m very proud to have the endorsement of the NRA. It’s the earliest endorsement they’ve ever given to anybody who ran for president. I’m very honored by all of that.
We are going to appoint justices. This is the best way to help the second amendment. We’re going to appoint justices that will feel very seriously about the second amendment. That will not do damage to the second amendment.
Asked by Wallace if he supported the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision, Trump began his answer by suggesting that if the decision that currently accords a legal right to an abortion were to be overturned, it would be up to the individual states to decide.
“I am pro-life and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that that would go back to the individual states,” Trump said.
He continued, “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 a tornado states will then make a determination.
“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.
“Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me.”
Clinton responded by saying:
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.
On late-term abortion Clinton said, “The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy, get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy.”
Clinton continued: “This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make, and I do not believe the government should be making it.”
Immigration & Border Patrol
On the topic of immigration, Wallace asked both candidates to defend their stances. Wallace said: “The question really is why are you right and your opponent wrong?
Trump began his answer by saying:
“First of all, she wants to give amnesty, which is a disaster and very unfair to all the people who are waiting in line for many years. We need strong borders. In the audience tonight we have four mothers of — I mean, these are unbelievable people that I’ve gotten to know over a period of years whose children have been killed, brutally killed by people who came into the country illegally. You have mothers, fathers, relatives all over the county. They’re coming in illegally.
Drugs are pouring in through the border. We have no country if we have no border. Hillary wants to give amnesty, she wants to have open borders.”
Trump continued his answer by emphasizing the importance of stronger borders.
“We have to have strong borders. We have to keep the drugs out of our country. Right now we’re getting the drugs, they’re getting the cash. We need strong borders. We absolute — we cannot give amnesty.
Now I want to build a wall. We need the wall. The border patrol, ICE, they all want the wall. We stop the drugs, shore up the border.”
Clinton responded by saying she does not “want to rip families apart.”
“I don’t want to see the deportation force that Donald has talked about in action in our country. We have 11 million undocumented people,” she continued. “They have 4 million American citizen children — 15 million people. He said as recently as a few weeks ago in Phoenix that every undocumented person would be subject to deportation.”
Clinton criticized Trump for his plans to build a wall.
“When it comes to the wall that Donald talks about building, he went to Mexico. We had a meeting with the Mexican president. Didn’t even raise it. He choked, then got into a Twitter war because the Mexican president said, we’re not paying for that wall,” she said.
Trump later responded:
“As far as moving these people out and moving, we have a country or we don’t. We’re a country of laws. We either have a border or we don’t. You can come back in and you can become a citizen, but it’s very unfair — we have million of people that did it the right way.”
Clinton went after Trump on his refusal to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Clinton turned an answer on border security into the an attack on Putin for the hack of her campaign’s emails, which the US government has said was done by the Russian government.
“You encouraged espionage against our people … you are willing to spout the Putin line,” Clinton said.
“She has no idea whether it’s Russia or China, or whoever,” Trump said. “You have no idea.”
“I’m not quoting myself, I’m quoting 17 intelligence agencies,” Clinton responded. “He’d rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.”
Trump said: “She doesn’t like Putin because he’s outsmarted her every step of the way,” a line that will play to his supporters who criticize the Obama-Clinton foreign policy.
Wallace asked: “Do you condemn any interference by Russia in the US election?”
“By Russia or anyone else,” Trump said.
Clinton outlined her economic plan and hit on topics including equal pay, raising the minimum age, and implementing policies to help the middle class thrive.
Clinton said, “I think when the middle class thrives, America thrives. And so my plan is based on growing the economy, giving middle class families many more opportunities.”
The Democratic nominee said she wants “us to have the biggest jobs program since World War II, jobs and infrastructure and advanced manufacturing.”
Clinton said, “I think we can compete with high wage countries, and I believe we should. New jobs and clean energy not only to fight climate change, which is a serious problem, but to create new opportunities and new business I want us to do more to help small businesses.”
She also emphasized that she wants to raise the minimum wage “because people who live in poverty, who work full-time should not still be in poverty.”
Trump began his response by calling Clinton’s tax plan “a disaster.”
“She can say all she wants about college tuition and I’m a big proponent, we’re going to do a lot of things for college tuition, but the rest of the public’s going be paying for it. We’ll have a massive, massive tax increase under Hillary Clinton’s plan.”
Trump said a large focus of his economic plan would be re-negotiating trade deals.
“We’ll have more free trade than we have right now, but we have horrible deals. Our jobs are being taken out,” Trump said.
He then attacked NAFTA as “one of the worst deals ever.”
“Our jobs are being sucked out of our economy. You look at all of the places that I just left, you go the Pennsylvania, you go to Ohio, you go to Florida, you go to any of them, upstate New York, our jobs have fled to Mexico and other places. We’re bringing our jobs back. I’m going to renegotiate NAFTA.”
Trump noted that Clinton flip-flopped on TPP, calling it the “gold standard” before she was opposed to the trade deal.
“She’s been doing this for 30 years. Why the hell didn’t you do this over the last 15, 20 years?” Trump questioned.
“The one thing you have over me is experience, but it’s bad experience, because what you’ve done has turned out badly,” he said.
Clinton said she would gladly compare their experiences over the last 30 years.
“Back in the 1970s, I worked for the Children’s Defense Fund and I was taking on discrimination … he was getting sued by the Justice Department for discrimination,” she said.
“And on the day I was in the Situation Room monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting Celebrity Apprentice.”
Fitness to be President
The debate moved to the “fitness” of each candidate to become president. The first question was to Trump, about his treatment of women and allegations of sexual assault.
Trump said the allegations “have been largely debunked.”
Trump said he didn’t know any of the women who accused him of unwanted sexual advances. He also claimed Clinton’s campaign was behind the allegations.
“I have a feeling how they came. I believe it was her campaign that did it,” Trump said. “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 is 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.”
Clinton criticized the way Trump attacked the women who accused him, specifically on their appearance.
“He went on to say look at her. I don’t think so. About another woman, he said that wouldn’t be my first choice,” Clinton continued. “He attacked the woman reporter writing the story, called her disgusting as he has called a number of women during this campaign.
“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self worth and I don’t think there’s a women anywhere who doesn’t know what the feels like,” she said.
“That’s who Donald is. I think it’s up to all of us to demonstrate who we are. And what our country is.”
Clinton defended the Clinton Foundation on charges of conflicts of interests.
“Everything I did as secretary of state was in furtherance of our interests and values,” Clinton said.
“It’s a world-renowned charity,” she said of the Clinton Foundation. “I’m so proud of the work it does. I could talk for the rest of the debate. I know I don’t have the time to do that.”
Clinton said the foundation has helped “11 million people around the world with HIV/AIDS to afford treatment.”
Trump launched an attack on Clinton for accepting money from foreign governments with human rights abuses: “Why don’t you give back the money?”
“I was in little Haiti the other day in Florida, and I’ll tell you, they hate the Clintons,” he said.
Clinton responded by saying Trump’s family foundation has used other people’s money to do things like buy portraits of Trump himself.
“Who does that? It’s astonishing,” she said.
“Bill and I have been involved in trying to help Haiti for many years. The Clinton Foundation raised $30 million to help Haiti after the earthquake,” Clinton said. “We’re going to keep working to help Haiti.”
Trump defended his foundation by saying:
“I’d like to mention one thing: Trump Foundation, small foundation. People contribute. I contribute. The money — 100% goes to different charity, including a lot of military. I don’t get anything. I don’t buy boats. I don’t buy planes. What happens, the money goes in.”
Chris Wallace responded: “Wasn’t some of the money used to settle your lawsuits, sir?”
“No we put up the American flag,” Trump said. “The money went to Fisher House.”
On Accepting Election Outcome
Trump didn’t back off claims that the election is rigged against him.
When Wallace asked if he will accept the results of the election, Trump responded with a vague answer.
“I will look at it at the time,” he said. “I’ll tell you at the time, I’ll keep you in suspense.”
He said Clinton had committed crimes and shouldn’t have been allowed to run.
Clinton called his response “horrifying.”
She continued that “Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is is rigged against him.”
She cited when Trump was losing momentum in the primary and when he failed to win an Emmy.
“I should have won,” he retorted.
“This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks. And it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling,” she said.
Wallace cited estimates that both candidates’ plans would increase the national debt. Trump responded by saying he could “create tremendous jobs” and construct “an economic machine” to power growth.
Trump then attacked Obamacare, calling it a “disaster.”
“One thing we have to do, repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. It’s destroying our country. It’s destroying businesses,” Trump adamantly said. “We have to repeal and replace Obamacare. You take a look at the kind of numbers that that will cost us in the year ’17.”
Clinton also rejected the estimates saying she would “not add a penny to the national debt.”
“I want to enhance benefits for low income workers and for women who have been disadvantaged by the current social security system.” Clinton said. “But what Donald is proposing with the massive tax cuts will result in a $20 trillion national debt — that will have dire consequences for social security and medicare.”
Wallace said there was no plan for closing statements, but asked for a minute’s worth of wrap-up from each candidate. He said “that might make it more interesting” because they weren’t prepared.
Clinton’s closing focused on needing all Americans to “make our country what it should be.”
“I’m reaching out to all Americans, Democrats, Republicans, and independents because we need everybody to make our country what it should be. … We need your talents, your skills, your commitment, your energy, your ambition,” she said.
“I know the awesome responsibility of protecting our country and the incredible opportunity to be working for all of you,” she added. “I will stand up for families against powerful interests, against corporations, I will do everything I can to make sure you have good jobs with rising incomes, that your children have education from preschool to college.”
Donald Trump gave a message focused on attacking Clinton, and re-establishing “law and order.”
“She’s raising money from the people she wants to control. Doesn’t work that way. … We’re going to make America great again,” he said.
“We don’t take care of our veterans, we take care of people who come into our country illegally … better than our veterans,” he continued. “We need law and order. … Our inner cities are a disaster. … I will do more for African-Americans and Latinos than she can do in 10 lifetimes. All she does is talk.
“It has to start now, we cannot take four more years of Barack Obama and that’s what you get when you get her.”
According to a CNN / ORC poll of debate watchers immediately following the debate, Clinton won the debate. The results showed 52 percent said Clinton won, as opposed to 39% for Trump.
The CNN / ORC poll following the prior two presidential debates showed victories for Clinton as well, with 62 percent of debate watchers saying she won the second debate, and 57 percent saying she won the first debate.
YouGov’s post-debate poll, also shows Clinton winning the third presidential debate. According to their poll, which interviewed 1503 registered voters who watched the debate, Clinton won the debate against Trump by 49 percent to 39 percent. 12 percent said it was a tie.
Vote in the reader poll below on who you think won the debate. (Note: This is not a scientific poll.)
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