Clin­ton, Trump clash in their fi­nal de­bate

Baltimore Sun - - ELEC­TION 2016 - Mark.barabak@la­times.com.

But he also lobbed many of his sig­na­ture per­sonal at­tacks. At one point, he called Clin­ton “such a nasty wo­man” as she was de­scrib­ing her plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund So­cial Se­cu­rity.

On the women who have stepped for­ward since the last de­bate to ac­cuse him of sex­ual as­sault, he said: “Those sto­ries have been largely de­bunked.

“I be­lieve it was her cam­paign that did it,” he added, ac­cus­ing Clin­ton of or­ches­trat­ing the al­le­ga­tions that have emerged.

Clin­ton pounced, cit­ing Trump’s own re­ac­tion to the al­le­ga­tions. He has sug­gested of one ac­cuser that he would not have as­saulted her be­cause she wasn’t at­trac­tive enough.

“He goes af­ter their dig­nity, their self­worth,” Clin­ton said. “I don’t think there’s a wo­man any­where who doesn’t know what that feels like.

“I think it’s re­ally up to all of us to demon­strate who we are, and who our coun­try is, and to stand up and be very clear about what we ex­pect from our next pres­i­dent.”

Trump sim­ply re­peated his con­tention that the var­i­ous ac­counts were false, though his cam­paign has not of­fered ev­i­dence that re­buffed the charges.

“No­body has more re­spect for women than I do,” he in­sisted.

When Clin­ton later quoted some of Trump’s com­ments about nu­clear weapons, warn­ing they are dan­ger­ously cav­a­lier, Trump called her a liar. “She’s been proven to be a liar in so many dif­fer­ent ways,” he said. “This is just an­other lie.”

The charge stemmed from a dis­cus­sion that be­gan when the de­bate turned to the re­cent dis­clo­sures by Wik­iLeaks of the pri­vate emails of Clin­ton’s cam­paign man­ager, John Podesta. Clin­ton ac­cused Trump of ac­cept­ing the help of Rus­sian op­er­a­tives be­lieved to have hacked the doc­u­ments and given them to Wik­iLeaks to try to in­flu­ence the Amer­i­can elec­tion. Clin­ton de­manded Trump “make it clear he will not have the help of Putin in this elec­tion, that he re­jects Rus­sians es­pi­onage against Amer­i­cans.” Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump ges­tures as Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks dur­ing the fi­nal pres­i­den­tial de­bate.

Trump ac­cused Clin­ton of try­ing to de­flect the dis­cus­sion away from a tough ques­tion about the Wik­iLeaks dis­clo­sures. She had been asked about a doc­u­ment that showed her telling a group of bankers dur­ing a paid speech that she sup­ported a “hemi­spheric com­mon mar­ket with open trade and open bor­ders.”

“That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open bor­ders,” Trump said. “I don’t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well that would be good. He has no re­spect for her, he has no re­spect for our pres­i­dent and I’ll tell you what, we are in very se­ri­ous trou­ble.”

Clin­ton shot back: “That’s be­cause he’d rather have a pup­pet as pres­i­dent of the United States,” re­fer­ring to Putin’s praise of Trump.

“You’re the pup­pet,” Trump re­sponded. He also re­fused to ac­cept the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s as­sess­ment that Rus­sia was in­volved in the hack­ing of Demo­cratic or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The back-and-forth fol­lowed a week in which Trump, who is sink­ing in the polls, ac­cused Clin­ton of be­ing on drugs dur­ing their last de­bate and sug­gested the elec­tion is be­ing rigged against him.

In a par­tic­u­larly strik­ing mo­ment, Trump twice de­clined to say whether he would ac­cept the out­come of the elec­tion — a shift from how he re­sponded to a sim­i­lar ques­tion at the first de­bate.

“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said first. And later: “I’ll keep you in suspense.”

Clin­ton called Trump’s response “hor­ri­fy­ing,” and cited Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s own put-down from a day ear­lier about Trump’s “whin­ing” prov­ing he did not have the tem­per­a­ment to serve as pres­i­dent.

“That is not the way our democ­racy works,” Clin­ton said. “He is den­i­grat­ing, he is 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 a po­si­tion.”

Clin­ton be­gan the de­bate with a lead in most bat­tle­ground states. Her chal­lenge was to both keep up her ef­forts to paint Trump as un­fit to be pres­i­dent and start mov­ing to ease Amer­ica’s deep di­vi­sions. The lat­ter is no easy task for the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, given the pub­lic’s per­sis­tent ques­tions about her hon­esty and trust­wor­thi­ness.

MARK RAL­STON/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

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