By Jesse Rice
Wednesday, October 19, marked the final presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle. It was filled with yelling, insults, and, surprisingly, a fair amount of policy discussion.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News presented the first question, addressing the issue of the Supreme Court. Secretary Clinton began by arguing that the Supreme Court is one of the most important issues of this election. The Supreme Court can either fight for the American people or for big corporations. Secretary Clinton promised to put Justices on the Court who will stand for women’s rights and LGBT rights, and will stand against powerful corporations who try to mess with the electoral process. Mr. Trump stated that he would put Justices on the Supreme Court who will be pro-life and uphold the second amendment. His Justices will interpret the constitution as the founders intended, unlike his opponent’s choices.
From there, the conversation turned to abortion. Secretary Clinton argued that a woman should have the right to make an unregulated decision about something as personal as her body. Mr. Trump argued that no one should have the right to kill a child in the womb. Secretary Clinton, claimed Mr. Trump, wants to allow abortions even up to the final day before birth. Fact checkers quickly pointed out that such a late-term abortion hardly ever happens, and many states already have laws prohibiting third trimester abortions except in the most extreme cases. In return, Secretary Clinton pointed out that Mr. Trump’s view is so extreme against abortion that he wishes to punish women who have them (which fact checkers pointed out that Mr. Trump did say, but he quickly walked back).
The debate moved on to immigration. Mr. Trump began, accusing Secretary Clinton of wishing to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants (which fact checkers pointed out was wrong). Mr. Trump argued that amnesty is not the answer; the answer is strong borders to keep out dangerous illegal immigrants. Secretary Clinton argued that while border security is important, building a wall and deporting thousands will only destroy the unity of the United States. Economists pointed out that Mr. Trump’s immigration plan will likely cost around fifty billion over the next ten years. Secretary Clinton’s plan, on the other hand, would probably save around one hundred billion over the next ten years.
Moderator Wallace then asked Secretary Clinton a question about her comments to a Brazilian Bank about her wish for a “hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders” (NPR). Secretary Clinton defended her comments by appealing to the context: she was speaking about energy, not necessarily trade or immigration. Fact checkers pointed out that while the context was not so clear cut, it was clear that Secretary Clinton has not pushed for open borders anytime during her campaign. The source of these debated comments was WikiLeaks, which allowed Secretary Clinton to transition into blaming Russian hackers for leaking the information to WikiLeaks in an attempt to interfere with the election. This was done, Secretary Clinton argued, so that they might put their puppet, Mr. Trump, into the presidency. Mr. Trump responded by calling Secretary Clinton a puppet and stating that no one knew that it was Russia who performed the hacking. Fact checkers pointed out that various government agencies have said they are confident that the Russian government was behind the hacking.
However, the most controversial moment of the debate came after a question for Mr. Trump about whether he would concede to Secretary Clinton if he lost. This question came on the heels of several comments Mr. Trump has made throughout the last week about the Democrats attempting to rig the election. Mr. Trump’s answer shocked everyone: “I will keep you in suspense” (NPR). Secretary Clinton responded in horror, shocked at his flippant treatment of democracy. Fact checkers noted that while 49 percent of Clinton supporters are confident the vote will be counted accurately in the upcoming election, only 11 percent of Trump supporters are equally confident. Oddly, fact checkers also noted that there is very little evidence of election fraud in recent history to cause such suspicions.
These three presidential debates have covered various topics. They have involved arguing, insults, and much debate of policy and character. Now, finally, the debates are over. The days are counting down to the election. It is up to the American people to make their choice.
For a transcript of the debate: http://www.npr.org/2016/10/19/498293478/fact-check-trump-and-clinton-s-final-presidential-debate