Presidential nominees Donald J. Trump and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton squared off in the final presidential debate Wednesday night at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace moderated the debate and divided it among six different topics.
The debate started on the topic of where the Supreme Court will take the country and how the constitution should be interpreted.
Clinton began by saying the Supreme Court needs to side with Americans rather than rich corporations.
“For me that means we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on the behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community,” Clinton said.
Trump wants to appoint justices that would protect the constitution’s original meaning that the founding fathers intended. He placed importance on having a Supreme Court that upholds the Second Amendment, which he believes Clinton would change if elected.
“If my opponent should win this race … which I truly don’t think will happen, we will have a Second Amendment that will be a small replica of what it is now,” Trump said.
Although Clinton reiterated her support for the Second Amendment, she said gun ownership should be regulated with extensive background checks. Clinton said she hopes the reform will unite Americans to help prevent the 33,000 deaths caused by gun violence each year.
The topic of abortion was brought up next. Trump said his appointment of pro-life judges could “inevitably” lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
The former Secretary of State responded in support of Roe v. Wade and opposed government intervention.
“I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, I will defend women’s rights to make their own health care decisions,” Clinton said.
On the subject of late-term abortion, Trump spoke graphically about the process.
“In the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” Trump said.
Clinton called his comments “scare rhetoric” and repeated her view of having no government involvement in women’s personal lives.
Next, Wallace asked the candidates about their plans for immigration reform.
Trump spoke about the violence and drugs coming across the border due to illegal immigration. He said his proposed wall along the border would prevent drugs and crime from entering America.
“We have to have strong borders, we have to keep the drugs out of our country,” Trump said.
“We have some bad hombres here and we’re gonna get them,” said Trump, referring to the drug lords he said come into America from Mexico.
Clinton believes Trump’s plan of mass deportation would “rip families apart.” Her plan would secure borders and provide amnesty to immigrants.
She accused Trump of exploiting immigrants by using undocumented workers to build the New York Trump Tower.
The topic then went off on a tangent about Clinton’s leaked emails and Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin.
“I don’t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good,” Trump said.
Clinton blamed the email hacks on Russian espionage, which she said Trump encouraged. Trump interrupted by saying Clinton does not know who carried out the attacks.
“He’d rather believe Vladimir Putin than our military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us,” Clinton said.
Trump insisted that Clinton’s dislike of Putin was due to him defeating her.
“Putin has outsmarted her and Obama at every single step of the way,” Trump said.
The candidates were asked how their economic plans would create jobs and growth, and why their opponent’s would not.
“One of the ways you create jobs is by investing in people. So I do have investments in new jobs, investments in education,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s focus was on helping the middle class grow through more jobs in technology and infrastructure, using clean energy, raising minimum wage and having more technical education.
“I think when the middle class thrives, America thrives,” Clinton said. “I want us to have the biggest job programs since World War II.”
Clinton also touched on how to combat the student-debt issue.
“I want to make college debt-free, and for families making less than $125,000, you will not get a tuition bill from a public college or university,” Clinton said.
Her economic plan rests on tax enforcement and making sure wealthy citizens pay their fair share of income-tax, while vowing to “not raise taxes on those making $250,000 or less,” and not adding a “penny” to the national debt, Clinton said.
Clinton said an estimated 10 million new jobs could be added under her plan, while 3.5 million could be lost under Trump’s plan, which she called “trickle down economics on steroids.”
Trump was quick to comment on Clinton’s plan, saying “her plan is going to raise taxes and even double your taxes, her tax plan is a disaster.”
A big issue with the economy, Trump said, is that U.S. allies that are being protected by U.S. forces are not paying up, and those nations should be asked to contribute to America’s economy.
Another point in Trump’s plan is to re-negotiate trade deals, such as NAFTA.
“I am going to re-negotiate NAFTA, and if I can’t make a great deal, then we’re going to terminate NAFTA and we’re going to create new deals,” Trump said.
After the candidates went toe-to-toe on each other’s past 30 years of experience, Trump defended his rank as a successful businessman.
“If we could run our country the way I’ve run my company, we would have a country you would be so proud of,” Trump said.
Fitness to be President
The next topic was each candidate’s fitness to serve as the leader of the free world, should they be elected this November.
Wallace asked Trump about the nine women who have come forward claiming that Trump sexually assaulted them. Trump said that each of the women’s cases are false, and he suspects that they come straight from the Clinton campaign.
Trump referred to a video showing operatives of a Democratic organization linked to the Clinton campaign hiring protesters to incite violence at Trump rallies to back up his suspicion.
Clinton responded by speaking about Trump’s treatment of women and the several cases of him acting crudely over the course of his campaign.
“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger,” Clinton said.
The Clinton Foundation and possible conflicts of interests were called into question. Trump referred to the foundation as a “criminal enterprise” on account of Clinton paying special attention to foundation donors during her time as Secretary of State.
Clinton pointed out that Trump’s claim that his foundation donates 100 percent of its proceeds to charity cannot be proven until Trump releases his tax returns.
When asked about his claims of the election being rigged and if Trump would concede if he were to lose the election, he said that he will “look at it at the time.”
Trump went on to say that, given Clinton’s mishandling of her emails, she should have never been allowed to run for president.
Foreign Hot Spots
The debate then turned to the issue of foreign hot spots and where exactly each candidate stands on military forces in the Middle East.
“I will not support putting American soldiers into Iraq as an occupying force,” Clinton said.
She then laid out her belief that gaining the assistance of the Iraqi army would be the best solution in the effort to force ISIS out of the area, and how occupation would raise concern.
Clinton also stressed her support for creating no-fly zones and safe havens within the country of Syria to better assist its’ citizens and refugees.
Trump responded by pointing out the U.S. departure from Mosul, Iraq and how that ultimately resulted in them returning to the city.
He continued by saying the situation was an outcome from the poor decision-making of the military advisors under the Obama administration to pull out forces from the foreign city.
“What happened to the element of surprise? Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, are spinning in their graves when they see the stupidity of our country,” Trump said, referring to the announced attacks on the city of Mosul.
He went on to say that Iran would be benefitting the most from the seizure of Mosul, insisting that it would play into their plan for taking over Iraq.
The topic then turned to the situation in Aleppo, where Trump pointed the finger at Clinton for the mass murders and called it a “humanitarian nightmare.”
“If she did nothing, we would be in much better shape,” Trump said about Clinton’s involvement in the Middle East.
The National Debt and Entitlements
For the final topic of the debate, Wallace brought up the growing concern of the national debt and questioned how each candidate plans to tackle the dilemma if elected.
Trump was given the floor first, where he expressed his ideas to keep jobs in the U.S. from leaving the country and creating more for the citizens here.
“I’m going to create a kind of country that we were from the standpoint of industry we used to be,” Trump said.
He went on to address how business experts aren’t used in the process of negotiating major trade deals, and how this dynamic needs to change.
Clinton responded by standing behind her position of supporting the middle class and having the wealthy pay their dues.
“We are going where the money is, we are going to ask the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share,” Clinton said.
She continued by saying that she and her opponent have conflicting ideas on how to improve the national debt in the country, and that boils down to their differences in upbringing.
“I think it’s a difference that affects how we see the world and what we want to do with the economy,” Clinton said.
On the topic of entitlement being the major driving force for the national debt, Trump suggested that the cutting of taxes would help improve the economy, but also that Obamacare needed to go.
“We need to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare, it’s destroying our country, and destroying our businesses,” Trump said.
Clinton, who was an advocate for the health care plan, would like to see it continue to be refined instead of repealed.
“I will not cut benefits, I want to enhance benefits for low-income workers, and for women who have been disadvantaged by the current social security system,” Clinton said.
In the final moments of the debate, each candidate was given a brief moment to reach out to the viewers and give closing remarks.
Clinton urged the people to stand up to special interests and emphasized her stance on the improvement of education systems throughout the country.
Trump insisted that the nation’s law and order must be improved in order to help improve the inner cities.
Watch Party and Student Response
CSUF students filled the entirety of the TSU Underground Pub to watch the third presidential debate Wednesday night.
ASI Lobby Corps has planned all the presidential debate viewing parties in partnership with CSUF Democrats and CSUF Republicans, in an effort to make sure students had an opportunity to watch the debates in an inviting environment amongst people with both agreeing and differing beliefs.
Meghan Waymire, a member of ASI Lobby Corps, said that the third debate was a big improvement over the last one.
“I felt like (with) this one, they both seemed a little bit more prepared. There was less interrupting than the last ones, which was kind of nice, but there’s still a lot of personal attacks rather than policy talk,” Waymire said.
ASI chief governmental officer and Lobby Corps member Amanda Martinez also appreciated that both candidates were more focused on issues than personal attacks. With the candidates really focusing on the issues more, they managed to get to subjects that mattered to her, such as the national debt and national security, she said.
However, Martinez found Clinton to be the stronger opponent of the two.
“I think that Hillary Clinton really came prepared,” Martinez said. “She’s been doing this for a while now. In her answers, she made sure that the issues were addressed. When they asked a question about a certain issue, such as Aleppo or the strategy for addressing the Middle East, she tried to address the issue with as much of a clear answer as possible.”
In retrospect, CSUF Republicans president Chris Boyle was in favor of Trump. Although both were strong candidates in their own way for the election, Clinton came out as a less desirable opponent, he said.
“Hillary Clinton is a good liar. I know that sounds (like) a terrible thing to say, but she said some things that sounded great to the ears until you tear them apart,” Boyle said.
He said that although it might have sounded great when Clinton’s answers involved investing in shovel-ready jobs and green energy, such promises had been made in the past.
“Obama made the same promises back in 2008 when he was talking about shovel-ready jobs as part of the stimulus package and talking about green energy, but we got companies…that were essentially laundering money for the Democratic Party. So, I think (Clinton) sounded good, but she’s a liar in a lot of these areas,” Boyle said.