Clinton, Trump clash in their final debate
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.