It was one of several explosive moments, as Trump tried to bridge a yawning gap in the polls.
That’s a wrap. Here are some links to the most important moments, in case you missed them:
• Trump refused to say he would accept the result of the election;
• He responded to the allegations of sexual assault against him;
• Clinton accused Russia of interfering in the election;
• Trump launched a graphic attack against Clinton’s position on abortion.
There was no doubt about the debate’s biggest moment - when Trump refused to say he would accept the outcome of the election, contradicting his vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence and daughter Ivanka, who had committed to accepting the result earlier in the day.
“One of the most stunning things I’ve heard in a presidential debate, ever,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said immediately after the debate.
“To say that he might not accept the result of the election that we’re about to hold was staggering, and I don’t think it helped him.
“That was disastrous.”
Other pundits joined the deluge of criticism.
“Forget everything else re debate, only one thing will matter: After 240 years of US democracy, nominee Trump threatens not to accept results,” said conservative strategist Ana Navarro, who has been extremely critical of Trump in the past.
“He should have said he would accept the results of the election. There is no other option unless we’re in a recount again,” said radio host Laura Ingraham, a Trump supporter.
Wallace ended the night with a surprise, asking both candidates to come up with a closing statement on the spot. Here’s what they said.
Clinton: “I would like to say to everyone watching tonight I am reaching out to all Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents, because we need everyone to help make our country the way it should be. To make it fairer, to make it work for everyone. We need your talents, your skills, your commitment, your ambition. I have been privileged to see the presidency up close. I know the awesome responsibility of protecting our country and incredible opportunity of working to try and make life better for all of you. I have made the cause of children and families my life’s work. That’s what my mission will be in the precedency. I will stand up for
families against powerful interests, against corporations. I will do everything that I can to make sure that you have good jobs with rising incomes, that your kids have good educations from pre-school through college. I hope you will give me a chance to serve as your president.
Trump: “She is raising the money from the people she wants to control. Doesn’t work that way. But when I started this campaign I started it very strongly, it is called Make America Great Again. We are going to make America great. We have a depleted military, 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 our illegal immigrants better than our vets, it can’t happen. Our policemen and women are disrespected. Our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store, they have no education, no jobs. I will do more for African-American and Latinos than she can do in 10 lifetimes, all she can do is talk to the African-American and Latinos, but they get the vote and come back and say see you in four years. We are going to make America strong again and 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.
The last formal topic of the debate was the national debt. Wallace asked the candidates what they would do to reform America’s entitlements system, which accounts for 60 per cent of the government’s spending.
“We have to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Trump said.
Clinton talked about adding money to the social security trust fund by taxing the rich.
“I am on record as saying we feed to put more money in the social security trust fund. That is part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My social security pay roll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it,” she said.
“Such a nasty woman,” Trump interjected.
Wallace pressed Trump on his claims that the election is rigged against him.
“Today I ask you on the stage tonight, sir, do you make the commitment that you will absolutely accept the result of the election?” he asked. Trump declined.
“I will look at it at the time. I will not do anything now. I will look at it at the time,” he said.
“What I have seen is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest, and so corrupt ... they’ve poisoned the minds of the voters, but unfortunately for them I think they’re going to see through it.”
“But, sir, there is a tradition in this country, the peaceful transition of power, and no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, at the end of the campaign the loser concedes to the winner ... and the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared to commit to that principle?” Wallace responded.
“What I am saying is that I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense, OK?” Trump said.
Clinton called that answer “horrifying”.
“Let me respond to that because that’s horrifying. Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims, whatever it is, is rigged against him,” she said.
“The FBI conducted a year-long investigation into my emails. They concluded there was no case. He said the FBI was rigged. He lost the Iowa caucus, he lost the Wisconsin primary, he said the Republican primary was rigged against him. Then Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering, he claims the court system and the judge were rigged against him. There was a time when he didn’t get an Emmy three years in a row, and he said the Emmys were rigged.”
“Should have got it,” Trump interjected.
Trump attacked the Clinton Foundation, accusing his opponent of taking money from foreign governments in a “pay-to-play” scheme while she was secretary of state.
“It is a criminal enterprise. You talk about women and women’s rights. So these are people that push gays off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly, and yet you take their money. So I’d like to ask you right now, why don’t you give back the money that you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly?” Trump asked.
“The Clinton Foundation spends 90 per cent of all the money that is donated on behalf of programs around the world and in our own country. I’m very proud of that,” Clinton said. She counter-punched, saying Trump misused money from his own foundation and has refused to release 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. So everything he says about charity or anything else, we can’t prove it,” she said.
“We have undocumented immigrants in America who are paying more federal income tax than a billionaire. I find that just astonishing.”
Wallace interrogated Trump about the multiple claims of sexual assault against him.
“Why would so many different women from so many different circumstances from so many different years, why would they all in the last couple of weeks, make up the stories?” Wallace asked.
“Those stories have been largely debunked. I don’t know those people. I have a feeling it was her campaign that did it,” Trump said.
“The stories are totally false, I have to say that. I didn’t even apologise 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 the women.”
“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like,” Clinton responded.
“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” Trump shot back. “She mentions this, which is all fiction, possibly started by her very sleazy campaign. But I tell you, what is not fictionalised is her emails, where she destroyed 33,000 emails criminally after getting a subpoena.”
In the middle of a spat over the two candidates’ economic plans, Trump said Clinton was all talk and no action.
“I ask a simple question, she has been doing this for 30 years, why the hell didn’t you do it over the last 15 or 20 years?” he asked. Clinton responded by comparing her record over those 30 years to his.
“Back in the 1970s, I worked for the Children Defence Fund and I was taking on discrimination against African kids in schools and he was getting sued for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings,” she said.
“In the 80s, I was working in Arkansas, he was borrowing $14 million from his father.
“I went to Beijing and said women’s rights are human rights, and he insulted a Miss Universe contestant, and said she was an eating machine.
“I was bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, and he was hosting Celebrity Apprentice.”
The two candidates fired up as Clinton accused Trump of encouraging Russia to interfere in the US election.
“They have hacked American web sites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given that information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting it on the internet,” she said.“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.”
“I don’t know Putin,” Trump replied. “He said nice things about me. If we get on well, that would be good. If Russia and the United States got on well and went after ISIS that would be good. He has no respect for her, no respect for the president and I tell you what, we are in very serious trouble.”
The exchange devolved as both candidates interrupted each other.
“Putin, from everything I see, has no respect for this person,” Trump said.
“Well, that’s because he would rather have a puppet as president of the United States,” Clinton shot back.
“You’re the puppet. You’re the puppet,” Trump interjected.
“It is pretty clear you won’t admit the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favourite in this race,” Clinton said.
“She has no idea whether it is Russia. You have no idea,” Trump replied.
“He would rather believe Vladimir Putin than the intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us,” Clinton said.
“She doesn't like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way,” Trump said.
Trump eventually said he would condemn foreign interference in the election.
It’s the issue that divides America down the middle, and Trump used graphic language to make himself heard.
Staying on the subject of the Supreme Court, Trump said he would appoint pro-life (i.e. anti-abortion) justices, which would “automatically” result in abortion laws being tightened. Clinton pounced.
“I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions. So, you can regulate, if you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account,” she said.
Trump responded with a graphic attack.
“I think it is terrible,” he said. “If you go with what Hillary is saying, you can take in the ninth month, take the baby and rip the baby from the womb of the mother just prior to the birth. You can say that that is OK, and Hillary can say it is OK, but it is not OK with me.”
“That is not what happens in those kinds of cases and using that kind of scare rhetoric is unfortunate,” Clinton shot back.
Once again, the candidates didn’t shake hands as they took the stage. The first question was about the Supreme Court - the next president will appoint at least one new justice.
“I feel strongly the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community,” Clinton said, answering first.
“Something happened recently where Justice Ginsburg made some very inappropriate statements towards me and a tremendous number of people, many millions of people I represent. She was forced to apologise and apologise she did,” Trump began in response.
“The justices that I am going to appoint will be pro-life, they will have a conservative bent, will protect the second amendment, they are great scholars and people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted.”
Moderator Chris Wallace turned to a discussion of the second amendment, which gives Americans a right to bear arms. Clinton said she supports the amendment, but wants guns to be better regulated.
“Because I support the second amendment doesn’t mean that I want people who shouldn’t have guns to be able to threaten you, kill you or members of your family,” she said.
“I am proud to have the endorsement of the NRA (National Rifle Association), and it was the earliest support they have givem to any candidate. We are going to appoint justices that will feel very strongly about the second amendment, that will not do damage to the second amendment,” Trump responded.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, has been remarkably quiet since the explosive video of him speaking disrespectfully about women leaked. She finally popped up again overnight, at the Fortune Most Powerful Women’s conference.
“He recognises it was crude language, he was embarrassed that he had said those things, and he apologised,” said Ms Trump, who has consistently rejected the accusations of sexism against her father. She went on to criticise the media for its “bias” against Trump.
“I may have been naive going into this. Nothing in life prepares you for a parents running for president ... the media has been vicious,” she said.
“The bias is very, very real, and I don’t think I would have said this to you even a year ago. From a media perspective, it’s very hard to get an accurate portrayal of who he is as a person.”
Trump promoted a Facebook Live broadcast half an hour before the debate, saying “you won’t want to miss it”. We were expecting something explosive, like last time, when he held a surprise press conference alongside Bill Clinton’s accusers.
Yeah, nah. It’s just a few Trump supporters conducting their own panel show as an alternative to the “biased mainstream media”. Trump himself isn’t even present.
However, it might still be significant. Earlier this week, there were reports that Trump’s son-in-law was looking into setting up a “Trump TV” network after the election. This could be a trial run.
At the last debate, Donald Trump invited three women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault as his special guests. He’s made an equally provocative choice this time, inviting Barack Obama’s estranged Kenyan half-brother, Malik.
Malik Obama is a Trump fan. He endorsed the Republican nominee in July, and promised to vote for him, as he’s a naturalised American citizen. He is also an outspoken critic of the Clintons.
“They’re people who are following a script, you know? They’re acting a role. And I don’t know if I can trust a person like that, because you never really can tell who they are,” Mr Obama said in a recently released video.
“I want to say without a doubt that this issue of the email server, I don’t think she has been very honest.
“I don’t know if I should say that they’re corrupt, but definitely there was some influence (involving the Clinton Foundation).”
He’s also a deeply controversial figure — particularly because it has emerged he’s a supporter of Hamas, which the US government has classified as a terrorist group. Usually, a presidential candidate wouldn’t want to be associated with someone like that.
Trump refuses to walk back ‘rigged election’ claimsClinton and Trump clash over Russia‘Not OK’: Trump’s graphic attackIvanka Trump lashes out at ‘vicious’ media
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