From Las Vegas, Nevada –
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton clashed on a series of divisive election year issues in their final debate, as both charged the other was “unfit” to serve as President of the United States, with Trump arguing that Clinton was too entrenched in the status quo, while Clinton said Trump is not experienced enough to run the country.
Here is a quick look at what went on in Vegas.
1. Trump refuses to say he’ll accept election results. After weeks of charging that the election might be rigged against him, Donald Trump was asked point blank by moderator Chris Wallace to say whether or not he would accept the election results in three weeks. Trump’s answer – “I will look at it at the time.” Wallace pressed Trump again, almost trying to give him a civics lesson on the matter. Trump said, “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?” Clinton labeled that “horrifying” and said she was “appalled” at Trump’s statement. “That is not the way our democracy works,” Clinton said. Look for Clinton and other Democrats to keep after Trump on this for the final 19 days of this race. This was the headline of the night.
2. Debate starts with issues, but gets to insults. It was something different at the start of this debate, as Clinton and Trump got deeply into issues like the Supreme Court, abortion, the economy and more. For Clinton, that meant the clock was running, and Trump was just sounding more like any other politician, and not Donald Trump. But, as the debate wore on, the tart lines and snappy comebacks became more pointed and more frequent. “Such a nasty woman,” Trump said late in the debate. Each side probably feels like their candidate got the better of the other in those exchanges.
3. Trump: “Wrong.” One can only imagine how excited the writers at Saturday Night Live were with one thing that Trump said repeatedly in this debate, as he repeated one word – “Wrong.” As one might expect, it hit the internet right away. One could almost imagine Alec Baldwin doing a sketch with dozens of “Wrong” interruptions.
4. No “Magic Moment” for either candidate. Unlike in the first two debates, I didn’t have an immediate feel for who would be the winner of this debate. Here in Las Vegas, it seemed like the race is in about the same place right now as it was when we arrived here – but I will let others deal with that. While both Trump and Clinton had some snappy one liners, neither knocked the other off balance or committed a Gerald Ford-Poland gaffe. Both sides can declare victory and move on.
5. Maybe the best night for a moderator. Chris Wallace had run afoul of Donald Trump during the GOP primary debates, but there was no repeat of that on Wednesday night. Wallace may have done the best job of any of the moderators in 2016, as he kept asking questions without going overboard or looking like he was helping one candidate more than the other.
It’s hard to see how either side can complain about the moderator this time.
As Wallace said, now we wait to see what the voters decide.