Clinton and Trump met in the final debate of the 2016 election. Photograph: (Getty)
Well-prepared Clinton shines; rattled Trump pledges pro-life values, dangerously and without evidence insists election is rigged against him
The third debate between the US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took place Wednesday evening in Las Vegas. There were six broad topics from which they fielded questions: Supreme court, "foreign hot spots", the economy, immigration, "fitness to be President" and the national debt. Unlike the last format, there was no town hall, where the candidates received questions from the audience.
Trump started by saying the justices he would appoint would be pro-life, would have a conservative bent, support the Second Amendment, would be great scholars, and people of tremendous respect who will interpret the constitution "the way the founding fathers wanted it".
Clinton claimed she was also for the Second Amendment, and that there was no inherent conflict between supporting it while also backing "common sense" regulations.
Trump claimed Chicago has the toughest gun laws, yet has horrible gun violence. He repeatedly said he's pro-life and will be appointing pro-life judges.
When talking about immigration, Trump used the phrase "bad hombres", a Spanish word for "man", that need to get out of America. This could be interpreted as an anti-Mexican dog whistle, and it's consistent with his anti-Mexican rhetoric.
Clinton accused Trump of using undocumented workers to build Trump Towers, of under-paying them and of threatening to report them if they complained. That he did in fact do this has been documented.
When questioned about a WikiLeaks account quoting a Clinton speech to a Brazilian bank for which she got paid over $200,000 saying she wanted open borders, she claimed she was talking about energy policy, and that WikiLeaks was a hack involving the "highest levels of the Russian government, from Putin himself" and said 17 intelligence agencies confirmed Putin's involvement.
"Will he make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election?"
When Trump was pressed on this, he said "Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way" repeatedly, for no particular reason and without foundation. "Worse than any government I've ever seen."
Clinton said there are four minutes between when the call for a nuclear strike is given and when the button is pressed, and that the ten people responsible for pressing the button have come out against Trump.
On taxes, Trump was vague. "We will have a massive tax increase under Hillary Clinton" Trump said, without saying which Americans are included in the term "we".
"We're going to have more free trade", said Trump, and that jobs are being sucked out of the country. He said he will renegotiate Nafta, which cannot be renegotiated.
Clinton said she'll "invest from the middle up, not the top down".
Clinton juxtaposed her last 30 years of experience against his. She said in the 70s she was fighting for human rights while he was being tried in court for discrimination, in the 80s she was campaigning for women's rights in Beijing while he was borrowing his father's money to start a business, and in the 90s Trump was on reality TV.
Fitness to be President
Trump accused her campaign of hiring people to be violent at his rallies. Actually, Mr Trump has called for violence against Black Lives Matters protesters at his rallies. He denied responsibility for inciting violence, and put the blame squarely on her.
He denied mocking a disabled reporter, even though the video of him doing it has been widely-circulated. He also said nobody respects women more than he does.
When pressed on whether he would accept the election results, which his running mate Mike Pence and his spokesman Kellyanne Conway said he absolutely would, he refused. "I will tell you at the time, I will keep you in suspense".
This is unprecedented. It is considered an American tradition, like in all democracies, that there be a smooth transition of power between governments, and Trump's refusal to support this is dangerous. That he is at odds with his own spokesperson and his candidate for Vice President is startling.
"Foreign hot spots"
Clinton, on the question of fighting ISIS in Mosul, in Iraq, said she would not support putting American soldiers in as an occupying force. She would push for a no fly zone and safe haven space in Syria.
Trump claimed, incorrectly, that the US "had" Mosul years ago, and now they're fighting for it again. He blamed Clinton for being responsible for ISIS, even though the group existed while President Bush was in power, well before she was Secretary of State.
He later said the US has tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who are "definitely" IS-aligned. The US has sheltered about 10,000 Syrian refugees, much less than other Western countries. The notion that refugees from Syria, the very people fleeing Assad and IS violence, support IS is at best undocumented, and is at worst ridiculous.