The final general election between the major party candidates is in the books.
HILLARY CLINTON A
MODERATOR CHRIS WALLACE B+
DONALD TRUMP F
Much like in the previous two debates Clinton presented herself as the competent one while Trump shown that he is nothing more than a raging tire fire.
Every time moderator Chris Wallace asked a question (who surprisingly did a good job), Clinton was like the student who regularly studied and knew the answer while Trump was the student who clearly never did the reading but was willing to offer his thoughts anyways. His ramblings were incoherent and lacked any semblance of real policy.
Take for example at the beginning of the debate, the first question was about the Supreme Court and appointing judges. Clinton clearly read the Constitution and had an understanding of the court cases that were being asked while Trump (or at least his handlers) never read the Constitution and I doubt could name five Supreme Court cases.
Then there was the rambling about “partial-birth abortion.” In 2006, NPR went through the history of the term and pointed out it was nothing more than political branding for something that doesn’t exist.
And once again as in previous debates, all it took was approximately 30 minutes before calm Trump was replaced by temper tantrum Trump. For some reason being on stage with Clinton the previous times set something off in him. This was Trump’s weakness going into the debates. He had won the Republican primary relying on his opponents beating up on each other and him taking jabs at them when he could that drove his supporters wild. Meanwhile in the Democratic primary, it was primarily a two-person affair in the debates between Clinton and Sanders. At times it was contentious but overall civil in comparison to what took place in the general debates.
There were three key moments in this debate and all three were fatal Trump errors.
The first was this exchange.
TRUMP: For 30 years, you've been in a position to help, and if you say that I use steel or I use something else, I -- make it impossible for me to do that. I wouldn't mind.
The problem is, you talk, but you don't get anything done, Hillary. You don't. Just like when you ran the State Department, $6 billion was missing. How do you miss $6 billion? You ran the State Department, $6 billion was either stolen. They don't know. It's gone, $6 billion. If you become president, this country is going to be in some mess. Believe me.
Like in the last debate, Trump brought up that Clinton has been in government for the last 30 years and has nothing to show for it.
Let’s review her response when Trump stated that at the second debate:
How did Clinton respond in this debate when Trump brought up her 30 years?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, what he just said about the State Department is not only untrue, it's been debunked numerous times.
CLINTON: But I think it's really an important issue. He raised the 30 years of experience, so let me just talk briefly about that. You know, back in the 1970s, I worked for the Children's Defense Fund. And I was taking on discrimination against African-American kids in schools. He was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings.
In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was borrowing $14 million from his father to start his businesses. In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women's rights are human rights. He insulted a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, called her an eating machine.
TRUMP: Give me a break.
CLINTON: And on the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the "Celebrity Apprentice." So I'm happy to compare my 30 years of experience, what I've done for this country, trying to help in every way I could, especially kids and families get ahead and stay ahead, with your 30 years, and I'll let the American people make that decision.
In the 1970s Clinton went undercover to document school districts that were not complying with the Brown ruling while Trump was being sued by the *NIXON* justice department for racial discrimination.
In the 1990s, Clinton fought for health care reform and made her historic speech in China while Trump hosted beauty pageants.
In the 2000s, she was a US Senator who fought to get the 9/11 responders health care while Trump said on 11 SEPTEMBER 2001 that the Trump Tower is now the tallest building in New York, took $150,000 from the government’s recovery efforts, stiffed 9/11 charities, and claimed he saw American Muslims celebrate the attacks (which NEVER happened).
And about the bin Laden raid, she was in the room watching it while Trump was nursing the burn Obama delivered at the White House Correspondents Dinner the previous night.
Do you know what TV show NBC pre-empted with the chimes of death to announce the bin Laden news?
The second one was about conceding the election and about how in rallies leading up to the final debate, Trump was hinting about how the election is rigged against him and that it will be stolen from him.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I want to ask you about one last question in this topic. You have been warning at rallies recently that this election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton is in the process of trying to steal it from you.
Your running mate, Governor Pence, pledged on Sunday that he and you -- his words -- "will absolutely accept the result of this election." Today your daughter, Ivanka, said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely -- sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?
TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking at anything now. I'll look at it at the time.
Later on in the exchange, as Wallace attempts to be the voice of reason.
WALLACE: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country -- in fact, one of the prides of this country -- is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you're necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?
TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK?
“I will look at it at the time” and “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
No, Mr. Trump.
And that is why you received an automatic F for this debate.
The final moment was in the closing statements and Trump made a case for Clinton to be president with this line:
We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama, and that's what you get when you get her.
If it wasn’t for that pesky Twenty-second Amendment, I bet Obama would run for a third term, win, and it wouldn’t even be close. The most recent Obama job approval numbers have him in the mid-50s, again numbers not seen since the early part of his first term. Some of that might because of how disliked the two candidates are and some might be that people are taking a true assessment of Obama’s presidency and seeing that, yeah, he’s done pretty damn good job. Off the top of my head: ObamaCare, the Stimulus, Dodd-Frank, two new Supreme Court justices, huge leaps in LGBTQ rights, bin Laden dead, and many other accomplishments that will be celebrated.
If Clinton represents Obama’s third term, then sign me up!
Even if Clinton didn’t show up, Trump still would have lost this debate. The insta-polls confirmed that Clinton won decisively.
If I was a Republican, I would be terrified. Not only did Trump seal their fate for a third consecutive presidential defeat, but also likely cost Republicans the Senate, severely jeopardize their House majority, and ensured several downballot defeats in state legislative races. That is just the short-term consequences.
The long-term consequences are that the party might not be competitive in a presidential election… again.
And as I have alluded in other writings, time is now out for the Trump campaign. Early voting is happening right now in several states and Clinton has a massive advantage in field. I just received my ballot last week in Colorado and plan on filling it out here in a few days after I look over some of the downballot initiatives.
Overall neither of the previous two debates changed the overall trajectory of the race. While Trump’s path to 270 has all but evaporated, there is talk that Clinton might end up with a bigger electoral vote haul than Obama’s 2008 victory. Polls have shown her consistently leading in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia as well as her taking the lead in Arizona, and within striking distance in Georgia and Texas (yes, seriously TEXAS!!!).
With outside of two weeks to go until Election Day, I think we know who will win this election.
And she is more than ready.