Winner: Hillary Clinton
Judge: Ray D’Cruz
Hillary Clinton won the Third Presidential Debate, easily!
Indeed this debate featured the ubiquitous moment that so many in the media speak about when covering presidential debates: a knockout blow.
Donald Trump’s extraordinary statement, that he may not accept the result of the election, was that knockout blow. Secretary Clinton called it horrifying. It was a direct rebuke of his running mate, Governor Mike Pence. It was a devastating denouement on a critical night for Mr Trump.
While that will be the single moment that defines the Third Presidential Debate, it should not obscure that this was a seriously one-sided contest. Throughout the night, and on every single issue Secretary Clinton bettered her opponent.
Her stronger, clearer stance on abortion rights bettered his vague deferment to states.
His simplistic immigration plan was exposed by Secretary Clinton. She mocked him for not raising his “wall” in conversations with the Mexican president. She admonished him for using undocumented workers on his property projects, undercutting American workers. Her pivot to Russia (Wikileaks, the link) provided the line of the night. Discussing Vladimir Putin’s positive view of Mr Trump she said “he’d rather have a puppet.”
On the economy, Mr Trump couldn’t defend his plan to slash taxes from a fairly obvious line: that economists say it doesn’t add up. He asserted that his growth forecast would solve all problems. He did this on more than one occasion, with no supporting evidence.
When the inevitable challenge came to Mr Trump about his treatment of women, he attacked his accusers, suggested a conspiracy and then tried to shift the debate to Secretary Clinton’s emails. She had none of it. After quickly dealing with the email issue, she hammered him on his “pattern” of abusive behaviour, drawing on his cast of campaign combatants: the disabled reporter he mocked, the Gold Star Khan family, former POW and Republican stalwart John McCain and the former beauty queen, Alicia Machado.
By the end of the debate, on Syria and debt, Mr Trump was rambling, and at times incoherent. Secretary Clinton stayed focussed and on message. It was the story of the evening. This debate, like the other two, laid bare the simple choice that Americans will make in early November.