Trump in­sults democ­racy

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Julie Pace and Lisa Lerer

Threat­en­ing to up­end a fun­da­men­tal pil­lar of Amer­i­can democ­racy, Don­ald Trump re­fused to say on Wed­nes­day night that he will ac­cept the re­sults of next month’s elec­tion if he loses to Hil­lary Clin­ton. The Demo­cratic nom­i­nee de­clared Trump’s re­sis­tance “hor­ri­fy­ing.”

Trump thinks be­lit­tling women makes him big­ger. He goes after their dig­nity, their self-worth

Threat­en­ing to up­end a fun­da­men­tal pil­lar of Amer­i­can democ­racy, Don­ald Trump re­fused to say on Wed­nes­day night that he will ac­cept the re­sults of next month’s elec­tion if he loses to Hil­lary Clin­ton. The Demo­cratic nom­i­nee de­clared Trump’s re­sis­tance “hor­ri­fy­ing.”

Trump had spent the days lead­ing up to the third and fi­nal pres­i­den­tial debate warn­ing vot­ers that the elec­tion would be “rigged”. Asked whether he would ac­cept the out­come if Clin­ton emerges vic­to­ri­ous, he said, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in sus­pense.”

Trump’s as­ser­tions raise the prospect that mil­lions of his sup­port­ers may not ac­cept the re­sults on 8 Novem­ber if he loses, thrust­ing the na­tion into un­charted ter­ri­tory. Free and fair elec­tions, with the van­quished peace­fully stepping aside for the vic­tor, have been the un­der­pin­ning of Amer­ica’s demo­cratic tra­di­tion since the coun­try’s found­ing 240 years ago.

The Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee im­me­di­ately dis­avowed Trump’s state­ment. There is no ev­i­dence of wide­spread voter fraud, and elec­tion of­fi­cials across the coun­try have de­nied and de­nounced Trump’s charges.

Wed­nes­day’s con­test quickly shifted from a calm, pol­icy-fo­cused face­off into a bit­ter and deeply per­sonal con­fronta­tion. Trump called Clin­ton a “nasty woman,” while the Demo­crat panned him as “un­fit” to be com­man­der in chief.

Clin­ton, who be­gan the debate with a lead in nearly all bat­tle­ground states, force­fully ac­cused Trump of favour­ing Rus­sia’s leader over Amer­i­can mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence ex­perts after the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee point­edly re­fused to ac­cept the US govern­ment’s as­ser­tion that Moscow has sought to med­dle in the US elec­tion.

She charged that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was back­ing Trump be­cause “he’d rather have a pup­pet as pres­i­dent of the United States.”

Trump de­nied any re­la­tion­ship with Putin and said he would con­demn any for­eign in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion. But he no­tably de­clined to back the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s as­sess­ment that Rus­sia was in­volved in the hack­ing of Demo­cratic or­gan­i­sa­tions. The Clin­ton cam­paign has said the FBI also is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s in­volve­ment in the hack­ing of a top ad­viser’s emails.

The 90-minute con­test in Las Ve­gas came just un­der three weeks be­fore Elec­tion Day and with early vot­ing un­der­way in more than 30 states. Trump has strug­gled to ex­pand his sup­port beyond his most loyal back­ers and must re­shape the race in its clos­ing days if he hopes to de­feat Clin­ton.

The can­di­dates clashed re­peat­edly over their dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent vi­sions for the na­tion’s fu­ture. Trump backed Supreme Court jus­tices who would over­turn the land­mark Roe vs Wade rul­ing, while Clin­ton vowed to ap­point jus­tices that would up­hold the de­ci­sion le­gal­is­ing abor­tion, say­ing: “We have come too far to have that turned back now.”

The busi­ness­man en­tered the fi­nal debate fac­ing a string of sex­ual as­sault ac­cu­sa­tions from women who came for­ward after he de­nied in the pre­vi­ous con­test that he had kissed or groped women without their con­sent. That Trump de­nial fol­lowed the re­lease of a video in which he’s heard brag­ging about ex­actly that.

Trump de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions anew on Wed­nes­day night, say­ing the women com­ing for­ward “ei­ther want fame or her cam­paign did it.” He falsely said the women’s al­le­ga­tions had been de­bunked.

Clin­ton said Trump “thinks be­lit­tling women makes him big­ger. He goes after their dig­nity, their self-worth.” She avoided an­swer­ing a ques­tion about her hus­band’s in­fi­deli­ties.

Trump pressed Clin­ton on im­mi­gra­tion, ac­cus­ing her of want­ing an “open bor­ders” pol­icy, a char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion she vig­or­ously dis­putes. The Repub­li­can, who has called for build­ing a wall the length of the US-Mex­ico bor­der, blamed some “bad hom­bres here” for drug epi­demics around the coun­try, and promised “we’re go­ing to get ‘em out.”

Clash­ing on trade, Trump said Clin­ton had mis­rep­re­sented her po­si­tion on the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, not­ing that she had orig­i­nally called it the “gold stan­dard” of trade agree­ments. Clin­ton shot back that once the deal was fin­ished, it didn’t meet her stan­dards.

“I’m against it now. I’ll be against after the elec­tion. I’ll be against it when I’m pres­i­dent,” she said.

On for­eign pol­icy, Clin­ton re­asserted her op­po­si­tion to send­ing a large-scale US troop pres­ence to the Mid­dle East to de­feat the Is­lamic State. She’s backed a no-fly zone in Syria, which would mark an ex­pan­sion of the cur­rent US strat­egy.

For Trump, the debate marked one of his fi­nal chances to shift the tra­jec­tory of a race that ap­pears to be slip­ping away from him. Clin­ton’s cam­paign is con­fi­dently ex­pand­ing into tra­di­tion­ally Repub­li­can states, while Trump’s nar­row elec­toral path is shrink­ing.

Still, Clin­ton has strug­gled through­out the cam­paign to over­come per­sis­tent ques­tions about her hon­esty and trust­wor­thi­ness. In the cam­paign’s clos­ing weeks, she’s be­gun ap­peal­ing to Amer­i­cans to over­come the deep di­vi­sions that have been ex­ac­er­bated by the heated cam­paign, say­ing on stage on Wed­nes­day that she in­tended to be a pres­i­dent for those who vote for her and those who do not.

Clin­ton faced debate ques­tions for the first time about rev­e­la­tions in her top ad­viser’s hacked emails that show her strik­ing a dif­fer­ent tone in pri­vate than in pub­lic re­gard­ing Wall Street banks and trade. But she quickly turned the dis­cus­sion to Rus­sia’s po­ten­tial role in steal­ing the emails.

Un­der­scor­ing the deep dis­cord be­tween Trump and Clin­ton, the can­di­dates did not shake hands at the be­gin­ning or end of the debate.

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