Update: Pleased to see that the media chatter is dominated by Trump’s refusal to commit accepting the election results.
Insta-polls are in:
YouGov: Clinton 49 Trump 39
CNN: Clinton 52 Trump 39
Conclusion: I don’t think tonight changed many minds. Trump didn’t melt down, but I don’t think he gained any ground. No one who didn’t want to like him came away impressed. “Such a nasty woman,” “bad hombres,” didn’t help. He held it together for about the first hour, then slowly fell apart.
10:25 Idiotic debt question, even-handedly distributed.
Trump: We’re going to grow at 4%. That will solve the debt problem. We use political hacks as trade negotiators.
Clinton: Trump always talks down our government. Did so under Reagan. “I alone can fix it.” Says (lamentably) she wan’t add a penny to the debt. Middle-out growth. Rebuild the middle class.
Even more idiotic entitlement question, source to the same right-wing think tank. Trust funds are going to run out of money.
Would President Trump make a deal to save Social Security and Medicare that includes tax increases and benefit cuts?
Trump: Obamacare is a disaster. I’m going to grow the economy. Next year Obamacare premiums will go up at least 100%.
Clinton: I’m on record that we need to increase inflows to the Social Security Trust Fund. Raise the cap. I’ll have to pay more and “so will Donald, unless she can figure out a way to get out of it.” [Trump interrupts: “Such a nasty woman.”] Don’t cut benefits. Raise benefits, especially for the poor and for women who have been disadvantaged by program design.
Obamacare extended the life expectancy of the Medicare Trust Fund.
Trump getting uglier uglier. I don’t think it will sell.
Candidates didn’t agree on closing statements, Wallace asks for them anyway.
Clinton goes positive. Children and families. Good jobs rising incomes good educations.
Trump: She just wants to control people. Make American Great Again. Help veterans not illegal aliens. Military. Law and order. Inner cities are a disaster. Can’t stand four more years of Barack Obama, and that’s what you get with Hillary.
I’m not sure that was a smart way to end when Obama has a +10 job performance.
10:11 Battle for Mosul. Will you put American troops in place to make sure ISIS doesn’t come back?
Clinton: Putting Americans in as an occupying force would not be a good idea. Mosul first, then Raqqa. Go after ISIS “in the air, on the ground, on line.” Domestically, if you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun.”
Trump: “We had Mosul. But when she pulled out, they took Mosul.” “What happened to the element of surprise?” MacArthur and Patton (again) spinning in their graves. Accuses the military of launching the attack on Mosul only because of the U.S. election. Brags that the operation is harder than expected. “Iran should write us a letter of thank-you.” Back to the Iran deal. Iran is taking over Iraq.
Clinton tries to explain the problem.
Trump pivots to Podesta and Sanders. Clinton responds that Sanders thinks that Trump is the most dangerous person ever to run for President.
Wallace on Aleppo: Points out that much of what Trump said about it is not so. It hasn’t fallen. Trump said Syria and Russia were fighting ISIS, when they were in fact bombing Aleppo.
Trump: Assad is tougher and smarter than Clinton and Obama. Has allied with Russia and Iran. We’re backing rebels. We don’t know who the rebels are. If they overthrew Assad, you may end up with worse. “She’s taking in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.” Many ISIS-aligned. Great Trojan Horse. Thanks a lot.
Q to Clinton: You want to impose a no-fly zone. Obama has refused. Generals are worried about potential war with Syria and Russia.
Clinton: Can’t be done the first day. Provide safe zones for Syrians. Need to be worked out with the Russians and the Syrians.
We have to vet. But we can’t exclude refugees. Some of the terrorist threat is native-born.
Trump: We got outplayed in the Syrian cease-fire. Nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is.
10:10 Q to Trump: You’ve been warning that the election is rigged. Pence says you’ll accept the election results. A: “I’ll look at it at the time.” The media is so corrupt. They’ve poisoned the minds of the voters.” Million of people are registered to vote who shouldn’t be. “She shouldn’t be allowed to run.” “Just in that respect, it’s rigged.”
Wallace presses on the tradition of coming together. Trump: “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
Clinton: Whenever Trump is losing, he says it’s rigged. Gives examples, concluding with Trump University and the Emmys. “This is not the way our democracy works.” Quotes Obama: “When you’re whining before the contest is even over, you’re not fit for the job.” Trump moves back the damned emails.
10 pm Q to Clinton: Conflict of interest. Clinton Foundation. “Emails show that donors got special access.” Wasn’t that pay-to-play?
Clinton talks about the good work of the Clinton Foundation. 11 million people getting HIV treatment. Trump interrupts, and Wallace allows it. “Criminal enterprise.” Saudis mistreat gays. “Why don’t you give back the money?” Hatians hate you.
Clinton: 90% of CF money goes to programs. I’d be happy to compare our record to the record of the Trump Foundation. Portrait of Donald.
Trump defends his record. Clinton points out that you can’t believe any of that because he hasn’t released his tax returns. Trump says “We’re entitled.” Buffet and Soros. “You should have changed the law when you were a Senator.”
9:40 Clinton is scoring, but Trump isn’t melting down.
Next Q: on the economy.
To Clinton: Middle class. Free tuition. Taxes on the rich. 10 million new jobs.
Trump’s plan would cost 3 million jobs. Giveaways to rich, piling on the debt. Trickle-down economics on steroids. Could lead to another Great Recession.
Trump: Her plan is going to double your taxes. “We’re going to do a lot for college tuition, but the rest of us are going to be paying for it.
Pivots back to whether our allies are paying up. Credits himself. We’ve doubled our national debt under Obama. We’re going to have more free trade than we have now, but get our jobs back. (??) Renegotiate NAFTA. Make great trade deals. Cut taxes massively. Businesses hiring people. Bring $2.5 trillion back.
Clinton: (Getting interrupted by Trump.) Repeats her pledge not to add taxes on people under $250k/yr., not to add to the debt. [Presumably that means some fancy bookkeeping for infrastructure spending.] We’ve tried cutting taxes on the rich, and that hasn’t worked.
Wallace still playing on Trump’s team: isn’t Clinton’s plan just like Obama’s stimulus, which failed? Clinton: “When you inherit the level of disaster that Obama inherited …” Obama doesn’t get the credit deserves. Middle-out, bottom-up, not to down. We’re beginning to see an increase in income.
Wallace to Trump: Even conservative economists say your plan doesn’t add up.
Ans: India and China are growing fast, we’re not. Anemic jobs report. [Ducking question.] We’re not making things anymore. Stuff pouring in from China and Vietnam. Again calls Clinton a liar over TPP.
Trump says Clinton has bad experience. Manages to pivot to $6 billion dollars missing for the State Department.
Clinton riffs on experience. Compares her bio to his.
Trump: “If we could run the country the way I run my company, we’d be proud of it.” Clinton gave us ISIS.
Q to Trump: Nine women have come forward to say you groped them since two weeks ago when you said you hadn’t done it?
Trump: Those stories have been largely debunked. Must have been planted by the Clinton campaign. “Or they want their ten minutes of fame.” Accuses Clinton of causing violence at his rallies.
Clinton points out that Trump denied he could have attacked those women because they weren’t pretty enough. Trump interrupts to deny it; Clinton reads out the quotes. “That’s who Donald is. Now it’s up to us to demonstrate who we are.” Switches to encomium on America. We’re great because we’re good.
Trump: Debunked. All fiction. Pivots to Clinton’s emails. “What happened to the FBI? I don’t know.” A four-star general is going to jail for lying to the FBI. “She” has lied “hundreds of time.”
Clinton came loaded: Not just women. It’s a pattern. Judge Curiel. The Khan family. McCain. The disabled NYT reporter.
9pm Chris Wallace, who for twenty years has worked for a branch of the Republican Party, is reading out the ground rules. The speculation is that, like some other Fox News folks, he will decide to follow the rats off the sinking ship, and play a relatively even-handed role. But let’s recall that this is a professional (pseudo) conservative.
As advertised, the two candidates don’t shake hands, a reminder of how thoroughly Donald Trump has debased this year’s political process.
First question: The Supreme Court. Asked (of course) from an originalist viewpoint.
Clinton: What kind of country do we want to be? Court should stand with the people, not the powerful, the wealthy, and the corporations. Women’s rights, LGBT rights, labor rights. Against Citizens United.
No pretense that the Court is not one of the political branches. That’s accurate, but not healthy in a constitutional republic.
Trump: “The Supreme Court is what it’s all about.” Bashes Justice Ginsburg. Second Amendment is under siege. (He’s speaking in something resembling complete sentences. Not noticeably sniffling.) Pro-life. Second Amendment again. “The Constitution the way it was meant to be.”
Wallace goes after Clinton on the Second Amendment. “I respect the tradition of gun ownership.” “Because I support the Second Amendment doesn’t mean that I think that people who shouldn’t have guns should be able to kill you.” Can have reasonable gun control without undoing the Second Amendment. Defends her criticism of Heller in detail: gun safety for toddlers.
Trump thinks Heller was “well-crafted.” Hillary was angry.
To Clinton: Dozens of toddlers kill people with guns, because not every gun owner is careful. An individual right to bear arms isn’t in conflict with sensible gun control. Bashes NRA. Saving some of those 33,000 lives per year.
Trump: Chicago has tough gun laws and lots of violence.
Abortion. To Trump. “Do you want the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade?” Ans: If they do, it will go back to the states. Trump bobs and weaves, but confirms that his justices would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Clinton: States are undoing the right affirmed in Roe with a variety of restrictions. Defending Planned Parenthood. Trump says there should be punishment for women who obtain abortions.
Q to Clinton: Partial-birth abortion. A: In order to defend maternal life and health. Bill I voted against didn’t protect those adequately. The U.S. government shouldn’t be making personal medical decisions.
Trump: Hillary wants to “rip nine-month babies out of the womb of the mother.” Hillary points out gently that he’s a liar, talks about her encounters with women who have had late-term abortions. Says she’s been in countries where governments order abortions or require babies to be brought to term. We don’t want to live in that country.
[Trump did not respond to Clinton’s point about punishing women.]
Trump: Clinton wants amnesty. I have victims of immigrant crime in the audience. If we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. ICE union endorsed me. Heroin pours across the borders, “poisoning the blood of the youth.” Strong borders. Build a wall. (Now he’s sniffling.) Expel the “bad hombres.” Once we’ve build the wall, “We’ll make a determination” about the others.
Clinton: I don’t want to rip families apart. 11 million undocumented have 4 million citizen children. Don’t want to see a deportation force going “school to school, home to home, business to business, rounding people up.” I voted for border security. Use resources to get rid of violent people. On the wall, Trump choked facing Mexican president. Path to citizenship.
Trump: Had a nice meeting with Mexico. NAFTA bad. Hillary supported the wall, but since “nothing she says ever gets done, it didn’t get built.”
Hillary: “There are some limited places where a wall is appropriate.” Bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows is good because employers can’t exploit them. Trump used undocumented workers on his buildings.
Trump: Obama has deported lots of people. (??) Hillary supports open borders. Need to be fair to people who have waited in line.
Wallace shows his Fox News roots: quotes from Wikileaks about globalism, mentions speaking fees. Clinton points out quote was out of context, then goes after Russian role. Most important question of this evening is will Trump admit and condemn the Russians for doing this and reject Russian help?
Trump repeats that Clinton wants open borders. We’re going to stop Radical Islamic Terrorism. I don’t know Putin. If we got along well, that would be good. Putin has no respect for Clinton or Obama. Russia has 1800 nuclear warheads, and she’s playing chicken.
Clinton to Trump: You encouraged Russian espionage against our people and signed up for his wish list. We’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our elections.
Trump: You have no idea. We have no idea.
Clinton: You’d rather believe Putin than the military and intelligence agencies sworn to defend us.
Wallace follows up. Intelligence agencies say it’s the Russians. Do you condemn their intervention. Trump “Of course I condemn.” Clinton and Obama have been outsmarted by Putin.
Clinton points out that Trump has been casual about nuclear weapons: encouraging others to get them, saying they have to be used if we have them. People who were part of the launch process say they don’t trust Trump.
Trump: Have military endorsements. We’re being ripped off. “She’s been proven to be a liar.”
90 minutes from H-hour.
Trump has already announced his opening stunt: inviting the President’s estranged half-brother (a polygamous Hamas supporter who regarded Muammar Gaddafi as a friend) to be in the audience. This immediately led someone to remark that, of the two Obama brothers, the one with one wife supports Clinton while the one with three wives naturally supports Trump.
Stay classy, Donald.
Lots of beard-stroking among the pundit class about how this is Clinton’s chance to make herself seem more personally appealing to voters who might dislike Trump but are hesitant about voting for her. There’s an element of truth in that, and no doubt she will try, but her main job, for the third time in a row, is to quietly bait Trump into a complete meltdown. I admit that bear-baiting isn’t a very edifying spectacle, but it’s fair to point out that the smart money isn’t generally on the bear.