Final Presidential Debate Airs Tonight

Nancy Benac, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — It was barely three weeks ago that Donald Trump opened the first presidential debate by asking, with faux deference, if it was OK to refer to his opponent as “Secretary Clinton.”

By Round 2 he was back to calling Hillary Clinton “the devil.” Since then, the Republican candidate’s scorched-earth campaign tactics have left all sides wondering just how low things will go in the third and final presidential debate, coming up Wednesday night.

For her part, Clinton steps up as a flood of hacked emails provides an unprecedented real-time look into the machinations of a presidential campaign — hers. In the disclosed material, Clinton is shown taking positions in paid, private speeches at odds with some of her public pronouncements. And she is revealed as resistant to advice by aides to apologize for her email practices and clear the air. That’s all fodder for the debate.

Trump, never known for self-censorship, has pronounced himself “unshackled” at last in the final weeks of the campaign. That has people wondering what Trump possibly has left to unleash.

Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News will have new information about both candidates to delve into during this debate. For Trump, there is the drip-drip drama of women who have come forward to allege that he went after them with unwanted sexual advances. For Clinton, there is the drip-drip of WikiLeaks.

The third and final presidential debate airs on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (PT).

Some things to watch for:


Trump in recent days has tried to deflect attention from the allegations about his sexual advances by complaining that the election process is rigged against him. Without providing any evidence, he wraps together the potential for voter fraud with assertions that his female accusers are part of a plot to smear him. With millions of viewers tuning in, will Trump dwell on conspiracy theories or give voters a more positive reason to vote for him?


Largely overshadowed by the allegations against Trump has been WikiLeaks’ day-after-day release of thousands of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign. The emails include excerpts of Clinton’s closed-door speeches to Wall Street interests and lots of campaign strategizing over how to contain the political damage related to her handling of classified emails and her use of a private email server. Trump has responded with a scattershot series of criticisms about “Clinton corruption,” but he has yet to hone a disciplined line of attack. Wednesday night gives him a fresh opportunity to try to synthesize his message and find a way to make the email controversy stick.


The campaign took a dramatic detour last week when a series of women came forward with allegations about Trump’s sexual advances. Trump’s combative response, calling the women “sick” and “liars” and alleging that there’s a global conspiracy against him, overtook all other aspects of the campaign for a time. How much oxygen will it suck up in the final debate?


With a number of Republican officials in open revolt against Trump and worried that he will be a drag on the rest of the ticket, watch to see whether Trump gins up more discord with his party — and whether Clinton steps in to make the case for Democratic control of the House and Senate.

Copyright Associated Press 2016



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