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Donald Trump Didn't Move the Needle in Final Presidential Debate

October 19, 2016 - 10:45pm

Donald Trump came into the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas needing to change the race.

Trump, who used to host high profile heavyweight boxing matches in Atlantic City’s glory days in the late 1980s, knew he was trailing on the scorecards. Like some of the boxers he had watched over the years, Trump needed a knockdown, maybe even a knockout in the final debate.  While rare, come-from-behind last second knockouts do happen in heavyweight title fights: Mike Weaver caught John Tate in the final moments of their fight back in 1980 while the always colorful Shannon Briggs took out Sergei Liakhovich at the end of their battle 10 years ago. 

Heading into the debate Wednesday night, Trump was behind in the polls. His downward momentum had been spiraling out of control over the past few weeks following poor performances in the past two debates and facing charges of sexual assault from at least nine different women. Trump and his surrogates insisted they were ahead but polls of some of the largest traditionally secure Republican states -- Arizona, Georgia, even Texas and, yes, Utah -- were starting to get close. Instead of going after Hillary Clinton, Trump often seemed more content in the final weeks of the campaign to rehash Bill Clinton’s scandals and go after Paul Ryan and other Republicans who weren’t behind him 100 percent. Trump was already warning the election results could be fixed, even as his Democratic rival started pulling ahead. 

Despite expectations that he would go after Clinton, Trump started calm and subdued as they debated the Supreme Court. Appearing far better prepared than he did in the first two debates, Trump showed a little more spark as the debate turned to immigration. But that round turned to Russian policy, with Clinton accusing Trump of being Putin’s strongman. That should have been an area where Trump scored points, especially as immigration is one of his calling cards and Clinton is vulnerable there. But Chris Wallace -- even with his Fox News background -- let the debate spiral out of control and Clinton’s jab about Trump refusing to agree with American intelligence reports that Russia was behind the WikiLeaks revelations landed. 

Next up was the economy, which should have been a  selling point for Trump with his business background. But even there, Trump turned back to foreign affairs before insisting jobs were leaving the country, even saying that jobs were fleeing swing states, including pointing to Florida by name. That would be news to Trump’s good ally Rick Scott, who has made job growth the cornerstone of his six years in Tallahassee. Trump got back on the economy but he could have scored more points on the issue. 

Wallace turned to the reports of sexual assault and Trump tried to throw the blame on the Clinton campaign. They battled over temperament with both candidates throwing punches and jumping in on each other. In probably his most damning exchange of the night, he refused to say for sure he will accept the election's results. When Wallace asked him the question, Trump didn’t definitively answer and called Clinton “guilty” of crimes. Clinton offered a surgical account of how Trump always made the “rigged” argument when he lost and then made a case that accepting elections was a core part of the American experiment for 240 years. Trump fired back on the Clinton email scandal -- but kept the door open that he could think the fix will be in if he loses. 

The debate turned to the Middle East and Trump went after Barack Obama’s and Clinton’s policies in Syria before they exchanged shots over supporting the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago and tangled over the national debt. 

It was a far more subdued performance from Trump than his first two debates, but the big story was Trump’s refusal to say he will accept the election results. His performance will probably help stop the bleeding in states like Texas and Georgia, which the GOP can’t afford to lose. Trump’s flippant “I’ll keep you in suspense” line will be the memorable moment of the debate, even as Republicans -- including Mike Pence, Marco Rubio and plenty of others -- grow increasingly critical of Trump’s insistence the election is rigged. That was the story of the night, ignoring centuries of tradition going back to Thomas Jefferson gracefully conceding to John Adams back in 1796 in the nation’s first contested presidential election. 

“Good luck with that, Hillary,” Trump taunted Clinton during their exchange over letting in Syrian refugees. Some pundits pointed to this as Trump raising the white flag. That’s probably not what Trump intended, but the likelihood is growing that Clinton will win in less than three weeks. Certainly, the closing statements offered that impression. Clinton made her case while Trump couldn’t resist a last shot at her in his final pitch. 

Trump didn’t score the needed knockdown in the final round and is looking at a loss -- probably by unanimous decision -- on Election Day. The final debate didn’t change that. 

Comments

ENOUGH! of this crap, Here's what I want in a candidate, which Hillary has none, and Trump has many; I like the way this is phrased because it recognizes that the political class are "bought and paid for". I believe that the basic premise is correct: If you listen to Trump, he is hitting many of the hot buttons of the electorate. But you have to listen to him and not be distracted by his showmanship. I like the list of 13 things that I, as a senior American citizen, want. Trump is at least talking about issues that most Americans are concerned about. My mantra about Trump is this: Truthfully, We are usually in agreement with most of what he says but wish someone else was saying it. We are offended by his brash manner. We are getting older and our tickers aren't what they used to be, but what matters is that he covers most of the 13 things we as seniors want – at least I do for sure. 1. Hillary: held accountable for her previous wrongs! 2. Put "GOD" back in America !!! 3. Borders: Closed or tightly guarded! Follow the laws for immigration. 4. Congress: Stay on the same retirement & healthcare plans as all federal employees. 5. Congress: Obey and enforce all laws NOW! Limit the President and family expenditures. 6. Language: English only! 7. Culture: Constitution and the Bill of Rights! 8. Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before & during Welfare! 9. Freebies: NONE to Non-Citizens! 10. Budget: Balance the damn thing! 11. Foreign Countries: Stop giving them our money! Charge them for our help! We need it here. 12. Fix the TAX CODE! And most of all. 13. "RESPECT OUR MILITARY AND OUR FLAG!!" We the people are coming! Only 86% will send this on. Should be 100%. What will you do? Please send it on; if only to one person.

Agreed

The debate forum is not Trumps wheelhouse. I wish he had said that he was going to have a forensic audit of the government and after the results were in build a new prison to house the thieves currently in power. As well as build the wall, beef up SS, remedy the VA disgrace and pay off the national debt with the savings.

Trump's remarks were treasonous at best when he did not confirm that he would accept the results of the election, and over the last week claiming the election process is rigged. That is absurd, as any election expert will confirm that the amount of voter fraud and tampering with today's technology and systems is almost non-existent. His reliance on WikiLeaks, now that it has been confirmed by the US intelligence community that the hacking was done by the Russians, is an unreliable source, as all that data that was hacked could (and probably was) manipulated. If he will not trust the US intelligence community on this, how in the world could he expect to be President without the US intelligence community providing the President with data on world affairs??? He is clearly unfit if he does not even trust his own government to support the office of President. Scary!

After all the revelations of DNC and Clinton campaign corruption, and MSM collusion, for you to say that brands you as a coprophagous moron! Oh, btw, I've read the reports on Russia's alleged involvement, and it's all speculation based on circumstantial "evidence." Also, Clinton herself confirmed the authenticity of Podesta's leaked emails. Regardless of who "liberated" them, the content is damning! That cannot be denied. Trump was totally correct in not blindly capitulating his right to contest the election results, given the recent evidence of voter fraud and criminal activity on the part of the DNC and Clinton campaign. If anyone should be called treasonous, it should be Clinton. SHE is the one clearly unfit for the office.

Clearly RL, you need to gather your Hillaryites so you all can talk all about Mr. Trump and how terrible he is and then about Hillary and how she's not a crook, not a treasonous idiot, and not such a bad person, and how you all will support her candidacy, no matter what! God help us all if Hillary becomes President. I'll continue supporting Mr. Trump!

Anyone that could possibly vote for Hillary Clinton is un-American. She is a "nasty woman" and a Whole lot more.

You have no clue what treason is - hahahahaa! Incredible. But it explains clearly how a corrupt Hillary could get your vote. And "trust" the current intelligence community? You're joking, right? They haven't been lying out their arses for 7.5 years straight? Tell me the intel community wasn't told by Hillary & Obama to skew military intel? IRS attacks against conservative organizations? I could fill up 30 posts with corruption from just Hillary's crap. You certainly are one gullible person, indeed. How is Delusion Land treating you?

You're an idiot, RL. There were no treasonous conducted by your leader however, Hillary is, I'm afraid, very familiar with treasonous acts. The "US intelligence community" clearly stated, and condemned the hacking of U. S. sensitive information, which is why the United States wants to bring Julian Assage, from WikiLeaks, to justice. First the Russians allowed him to reside under their protection, and now, it's Equador who shelters him in their politically protected Embassy. I'd suggest you keep up on all what's going on prior to your commenting as you might look and sound a little better than what you appear to be, now.

Treasonous? Give me a break Hillaryite! Hillary has already committed treason by using her personal email because she's so damned lazy to follow the 'rules' WikiLeaks is much more reliable than your own words, RL, and clearly Hillary AND you are unfit. Hillary unfit to be President based upon what everyone now knows about her, and YOU because you have no idea on what you say, other than cheering for Hillary, blindly! GO TRUMP!!

Donald Trump came into the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas needing to change the race. All clinton had to do was have her hair done, make up on and new clothes. Please tell us how she won anything? Please tell us when will she start campaigning? Please tell us who the hell this woman is?

Exactly, in every competition there is offense and defense. He needed a blow out to try and have a chance in this race. He flopped big league, if you ask me. He as the thinnest skin of any person I have ever seen. He crumbles every time in any hint of pressure. What a weak minded person.

It's easy to know how. Replay the debate and you'll hear all the snorts sounding for her from her little group! You can try to dress her up with new clothes, make-up, new shoes, and even a new wig style, take that all away and what you have left is a woman who only cares about her own stance in her own financial world, divorcing Bill, announcing her new & different sexuality, and gaining a 'forever' pension!

You must be kidding Kevin. Were you watching a rerun of the Romney Obama debate or were you watching live TV the Trump & Clinton final debate??? He basically buried her theories of the US Constitution her lies about the 2nd amendment and her ability to lead this country. There has never been such a stark difference in "Do we want to keep our constitution or down want to go down the path of destruction that we've been put on for the past eight years." Because that is where Hillary "Ramrod" Clinton will drive this country.

OK Swampfox - Please, Please be specific. Path of destruction last 8 years? Just How? What about the 2nd amendment? Has anyone come and get your guns? The Con-Man Donald has fed you a bags of fools Rocks. You think he can lead this country? Yes He can - back to the 1950.

You're a bit blind. Only the conservatives in Congress have kept Obama at bay from doing hundreds of unconstitutional measures. And still, Obama does use EO & other maneuvers to side step US lawmakers. Our guns would already be gone of it wee so key up to Obama & Hillary.

Sorry - keys on cell way too small. And Sunshine's autocorrect is only smart sometimes. Got to watch it closely! Here's last part of post: Our guns would already be gone if it were solely up to Obama & Hillary. She has promised the Australian Plan! Most would extrapolate, but there are liberals on here, so I am just helping them out.

Trump OR the FEMA Camps? YOU decide WHERE your family ends up, and just how much of your hard earned 'existence' remains. (Sunshine State News will be just a bankrupt memory.

No puppet Trump started out almost reasonable but in 30 minutes she turned him into a quivering fool again........... Trump can't seem to last beyond 30 minutes, talk about no energy............He is so easy to troll, control just as Putin has and Trump stil can't figure out he has been he is so self centered............Kind of like Trump Chumps here so gullible a liberal con man like Trump is playing them....Youd think someone who plays weak people like Trump does would fiture he was being played........... But he is so self centered he can't see that...... so the loser whines the election ix fixed and he is right, it is fixed so incompetent nasty fools like Trump can't get enough votes to win as everyone see the real Trump, a vile, nasty con man that has destroyed the republican party may be forever. For that I think Trump, his Chumps from the bottom of my heart. ;^))

Great post jerry. The trumps supporters are blinded by his fear mongering rhetoric. As a registered republican I'm embarrassed by his actions. Just 15-20 years ago he as being saying the exact opposite he says today. Playing into the hands of the weak. It going to be a hard pill to swallow for his supporters when he loses.

Once again Jerry, your writings/scribblings are a true example of a mind which is closed. Reading your scribblings here I merely thought that you were just 'out to lunch' but alas, you have completely checked out! Happy trails Jerry! GO TRUMP!!

Trump won that debate. There is two much at stake for Democrats.

WRONG! Bigly.

Learn how to spell - your argument may be more pursuasive - NOT!

"Woof" Woof", Hey Sparky, good solid adult name! GO TRUMP!!

WRONG! No you're the puppet. Classic response from 5 year old in kindergarten.

For the second time it appears that Hillary had the use of a teleprompter/notes and she was constantly glancing down. Someone there saw a man approach the podium and remove some gadget. Also Dr Frankenstein was following her around after the debate.

WRONG!

What a great growth of a leader. Trump keeps improving by leaps and bounds while Hillary keeps the same old tired lines. Don't like men judging women on their looks? Don't wear makeup and get a buzz cut. Be a man. Don't like abusing women, LGBT, and Christians, Don't take millions from Muslim extremist Ayatollah's while your friend OBAMA sends 1.7 billion in cash to them. Some decisions are easy. Don't need to find/check your emails. Destroy your devices with a hammer or lose them. Just DO whats in USA's best interest.

WRONG!

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