Donald Trump accuses the media of being part of the rigging of the election, saying they are dishonest and corrupt
Las Vegas: Donald Trump refused to say he would accept the results of the 8 November election if he loses, an extraordinary statement about one of the underpinnings of US democracy that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, called “horrifying".
“I will look at it at the time," the Republican nominee said on Wednesday night in the third and final presidential debate. He accused the media of being part of the rigging of the election, saying they are dishonest and corrupt. “They’ve poisoned the minds of the voters, but unfortunately for them I think the voters are seeing through it."
Always the showman, Trump said he’d let Americans know his decision after the election. “I will tell you at the time," he said. “I will keep you in suspense."
Clinton expressed shock, echoing comments made earlier this week by president Barack Obama on the importance of a peaceful transfer of power in the US.
“Let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means,’’ the Democratic nominee said. “He’s denigrating, he’s talking down our democracy, and I, for one, am appalled that somebody who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.’’
The debate in Las Vegas, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News, came after a tumultuous few weeks for Trump. His slide in state and national polls started with a lackluster performance in the first debate on 26 September and continued with the release of a 2005 recording of Trump making lewd comments about women and subsequent allegations from several women that he inappropriately touched them.
At the start of their final face-to-face encounter, the two candidates offered sharply different views on the Supreme Court, gun control and abortion in a series of civil exchanges. The session quickly got personal and combative as it turned to accusations against Trump that he groped women and questions of whether he tolerated Russia’s interference in the US election.
Trump accused Clinton of pushing the stories of the women who came forward to say he groped them and again denied he had behaved inappropriately.
“I didn’t even apologize to my wife because I didn’t do anything," Trump said. Of his accusers, he said, “I think they want either fame or her campaign did it."
Clinton criticized Trump over the allegations and his general treatment of women, a voting bloc that has been central to her lead in the polls.
“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger," she said. “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."
They also clashed over Russia and the hacking of Democratic Party emails that US officials have blamed on President Vladimir Putin’s government.
Clinton deflected questions about leaked emails from her campaign by criticizing Trump for failing to denounce Russian interference in the US election. Trump shot back by saying the US has no idea who was behind the hacking.
“Hillary you have no idea," Trump said. “She doesn’t like Putin because he has outsmarted her at every turn."
Trump, who has repeatedly praised Putin as a strong leader and suggested other nation’s may be behind the hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign files, has used the files released by WikiLeaks in his attacks on Clinton. “I don’t know Putin. I’ve never met Putin. This is not my best friend, but if the United States got along with Russia it wouldn’t be so bad," he said.
Clinton suggested that Putin prefers Trump because “he’d rather have a puppet as president."
Wallace asked Clinton whether she kept the pledge during her 2009 confirmation hearing as secretary of state to avoid any conflict of interest with the Clinton Foundation, especially with questions about whether those seeking grants involving Haiti relief got special treatment.
Clinton said everything she did as secretary of state was proper, and the foundation was a “world-renowned charity.’’ Trump called it “a criminal enterprise.’’
Both agreed that the Supreme Court is one of the central issues in the campaign, one that both parties have used to motivate voters to get to the polls on Election Day.
“The Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy," Clinton said. “The Supreme Court should represent all of us."
“The Supreme Court is what it’s all about," Trump said. “It’s so imperative we have the right justices." He said he would appoint justices that are “pro-life" and have a “conservative bent," while also being willing to interpret the Constitution “the way the Founders wanted it interpreted."
The next president may be faced with one or more vacancies on the high court once in office and partisans on both sides have seen the court as a test for the candidates. The divisive issues that may be brought before the court in the coming years include the right of women of have an abortion, limits on campaign spending and restrictions on firearms ownership.
Trump said he would support seeing the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal overturned.
“That will happen," Trump said, noting the type of “pro-life" justices that he would plan to appoint. “It will go back to the states and then the states will make the determination." He described the practice sometimes referred to as partial-birth abortion. “You can take the baby and rip the baby out of womb on the ninth month.’’
Clinton gave an emotional defence of her stance on allowing termination of pregnancies late-term. She cited forced abortions in China and other practices she’s seen while secretary of state. She derided the “scare rhetoric" on the topic that Trump used.
One of their most vigorous clash came over immigration and trade. Neither candidate offered any new details on their plans.
“We have some bad hambres here and we’re going to get them out," Trump said, using the Spanish word for hungry instead of men, hombres.
The fight over immigration policy has been a central issue in the race, with Trump arguing for construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border and demanding that Mexico pay for it. Clinton and others have questioned the feasibility of that proposal and she’s promised to introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office.
Clinton said Trump’s plan to deport all undocumented immigrants is not in keeping with the nation’s ideals and would “rip our country apart.’’
“I don’t want to rip families apart," she said. “I don’t want to see a deportation force that Donald has talked about in action.’’
The two also battled over their tax and spending plans, with Clinton saying she wanted to see the “biggest jobs program since World War II." Trump pointed to former President Bill Clinton, as he presented himself as an expert negotiator.
“Our jobs are being taken out by the deal that he husband signed," Trump said in a reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement. “I’m going to renegotiate NAFTA."
While Clinton has said her proposals wouldn’t add to the federal debt, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated they would likely add $200 billion to the debt during the next decade, while Trump’s policies would add $5.3 trillion.
Trump said that while Clinton has an advantage of experience, she’s not used it effectively. “She’s been doing this for 30 years. Why the hell didn’t you do this over the last 15 or 20 years?" Trump said. “The one thing you have over me is experience, but it’s bad experience."
Before their face-off, Trump tried his latest wild-card play by inviting to the debate as guests supporters that include the estranged Kenyan half-brother of President Barack Obama, the mother of one of the victims killed in the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi who blames the former secretary of state for her son’s death, and a former Arkansas television reporter who told Breitbart News that former President Bill Clinton groped her and rubbed up against her in 1980, when he was the state’s governor.
It followed a trend for Trump. For last week’s debate in St. Louis, he invited other women who have accused the former president of sexual misconduct. Bloomberg