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Dublin: 1°C Thursday 21 January 2021


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IT’S THE FINAL round and expect at least one candidate to come out swinging.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go toe-to-toe in the third US presidential debate.

It’s all to play for and the road to the White House runs through Las Vegas.

Tonight, what happens in Vegas could decide the US presidency.

The 90-minute debate at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada offers Trump what may be his last chance to turn around a campaign that has been battered by a stream of allegations he groped and forced himself on women.

“We’ve only just begun to fight, believe me,” Trump said while campaigning in Grand Junction, Colorado last night. “This is our final shot, folks.”

We’ll be here til the bitter end. Send your observations and constructive criticism to @PTHosford or paulhosford@thejournal.ie throughout the night.

Evening folks, Paul Hosford here, taking you through the night and into the early hours of the morning.

Will tonight see Donald Trump roar his campaign back into life? Or will Hillary Clinton extend her polling lead?

We’ll find out from 2am…

Alright, so here’s what you need to know.

When: The debate runs from 2am to 3.30am.

Where: Clinton and Trump will face off at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV). No third-party candidate has met the 15% polling threshold to be involved in the debate.

Watch: Sky, RTE and BBC will all carry the debate and it will be available online on C-Span.

Who’s in charge?: Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace will moderate the debate. A Democrat who presents on Fox, Wallace is known for his aggressive questioning of all parties. In 2006, he had a famously tense exchange with Bill Clinton where he questioned the former President on whether he should have caught Osama bin Laden while in office.

Format: The debate will be split into six 15 minute segments on topics picked by Wallace.

The candidates will have two minutes to answer, then a minute to respond to their opponent’s rebuttal.

The topics are: immigration, debt and welfare, the Supreme Court, foreign policy, the economy and fitness to serve as president.

Ahead of the debate, right-wing news site Breitbart has published allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton.

Per AFP:

Leslie Millwee, a former reporter for local Arkansas TV station KLMN-TV, said she interviewed Clinton some 20 times in public when he was governor of the southern US state.

Millwee — then known as Leslie Derrick — told Breitbart that Clinton visited the TV station and assaulted her in the editing room in all three cases.

The Clinton campaign dismissed her accusations.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump seeks to invoke this report tonight or in the coming days,” Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said on MSNBC.

“We expect that he’ll do anything in the closing days. He said he’s practicing a scorched earth approach to the campaign.”

Source: EminemMusic/YouTube

Guess who’s back, back again?

Trump’s rise is enough to have woken sleeping hip-hop giant Eminem.

The rapper savages the GOP candidate:

“Consider me a dangerous man / But you should be afraid of this dang candidate.

“You say Trump don’t kiss ass like a puppet ’cause he runs his campaign with his own cash for the funding.

“And that’s what you wanted — A fucking loose cannon who’s blunt with his hand on the button, who doesn’t have to answer to no one.

“Great idea!”

Because many US states have early voting, many people in the US have already cast their votes. Both sides have claimed they are confident that the votes are falling their way.

It’s also important to remember that tonight’s debate takes place in Nevada, which will play a big part in deciding the presidency.

Trump needs to turn it red, along with at least two of Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Colorado.

According to FiveThirtyEight, he trails in all of those states, as well as North Carolina and Iowa, other potential swing states.

538 Source: FiveThirtyEight.com

Rudy Giuliani is on CNN at the minute. He reckons Hillary Clinton should be in jail over her email server.

Clinton’s guest at tonight’s debate, NBA club owner Mark Cuban, has rolled his eyes so hard I think he may have broken his eye sockets.

He accused Giuliani of “pulling things out of the X-Files”.

This CNN argument is probably more vociferous than the main event will be.

Giuliani reckons Trump can change Washington and hammered Clinton for being too much of an establishment figure.

Cuban fires back that Trump “cheated 6,000 people in Trump University”.

I would honestly take this as a hour-long debate. We could put Scott Baio versus Katy Perry on the undercard. Book it.

Campaign 2016 Debate Source: John Locher

Giuliani says that while he knows men who are “touchy-feely”, Trump has always treated Mrs Giuliani “courtly”.

Cuban says that he knows of two more women who won’t come forward with allegations against Trump.

Giuliani is asked would any allegation against Trump change his mind on the candidate. He says he won’t engage in hypotheticals and asks Cuban if someone told him that Clinton had killed someone, would that change his view.

“Yes,” the businessman replies.

Some pre-debate drama.

Bill Clinton and Melania Trump will not shake hands tonight as is traditional.

The Clinton campaign are said to have arranged for it not to happen because of Trump’s invitation of women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to the last debate.

Campaign 2016 Trump Source: AP/Press Association Images

Trump has spent the last week or so casting doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process, but his daughter Ivanka says he’ll abide by whatever result is reached on 8 November.

Trump, 70, has been warning ominously that the vote is “rigged,” particularly since his support has slid for the past 10 days after a series of allegations that he sexually assaulted women.

That has fueled fears that his supporters might rise up in some fashion should they feel the election was not won fairly.

“He’ll either win or he won’t win and I believe he’ll accept the outcome either way,” Ivanka told MSNBC in an interview.

Trump’s vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence told CNN that it doesn’t matter anyway, because Trump is going to win the debate.

Would the election be rigged in that case? Hmmm…

Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for California governor, has told CNN that she supports Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump is “a dishonest demagogue”.

Irishman and CNN producer Donie O’Sullivan is in Las Vegas with the workers from the Culinary Union Local 226, so he’s definitely worth a follow tonight. (He’s worth a follow anyway.)

The union, which Trump has refused to bargain with at his Vegas hotel, earlier today formed a wall made of taco trucks outside the Trump International Las Vegas hotel.

Jim Acosta on CNN says that Trump is “ready to rumble”.

He says that Trump has been preparing by debating with Chris Christie.

Philippe Reines, Clinton’s advisor, has been playing Trump in her preparatory sessions.

Before the first debate last month, Trump trailed by two points nationally. Tonight, Clinton leads by eight.

That makes tonight either Trump’s Yorktown or his Little Bighorn – his greatest victory or his last stand.

Expect him to throw everything he’s got at this.

Source: dagalagas/YouTube

Before the debate starts, a period in Trump’s life that I feel has been overlooked.

At Wrestlemania XXIII in 2007, Trump was a major part of Wrestlemania and shaved WWE owner Vince McMahon bald.

A great time in pro wrestling.

CNN host Jake Tapper makes the point that Trump’s predilection for a one-liner could be what’s costing him.

He makes the point that saying things like Hillary Clinton is on drugs may “titillate” his base, they turn independent voters off.

20 minutes to go.

How are we all staying awake? I’m not a coffee man, so I’m on the good stuff:

BRITAIN CADBURY SCHWEPPES Source: AP/Press Association Images

Six minutes to go. Both candidates have arrived.

No word on Trump’s tie colour, but Hillary is in a white suit. That completes her trio of red, white and blue clothing in the three debates.

No handshake!

The candidates stay on their sides of the stage and Chris Wallace jumps straight into the question of the Supreme Court.

Clinton says the Supreme Court raises the central question for the election.

“What kind of country do we want to live in?”

She wants to see a Supreme Court which stands up for women and LGBT people and would strike down the Citizens United ruling, which allows “dark money” into American politics.

She says she would nominate justices who “stand up to the powerful”.

Trump says the Supreme Court is “what it’s all about”.

He takes a shot at Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who criticised him some months ago. He says that the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, is “under trauma”.

He says he will nominate pro-life, pro-gun justices.

The format of this debate means we now get an open discussion.

Clinton is faced with questions on the Second Amendment. She says she supports it, but believes that there must be “reasonable regulation” on gun ownership.

She says America has 33,000 gun deaths a year and needs to take “sensible” steps to address that, while not impinging on the Second Amendment.

Trump says opposes any laws which restrict assault weapon ownership or right to carry and will protect the Second Amendment by his appointments to the Supreme Court.

Now we’re onto abortion. Trump says he wants pro-life judges Roe v Wade, which legalised abortion in the US in the 70s.

He says the issue would then go back to the individual states.

Clinton says she supports the law and says that states are putting barriers in the way of the law and says she will defend Planned Parenthood.

Wallace wants to know how far Clinton goes on abortion.

She says that any restrictions have to take into account the rights and health of the mother. She says late-term abortion are often “heartbreaking” decisions.

The US government should not be stepping in and taking those most personal decisions.

Trump says that is “terrible”.

“Based on what she’s saying, you can rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month.”

Clinton tells him that is “scare rhetoric” and tells him to meet with women.

Campaign 2016 Debate Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Wallace now wants to talk about immigration.

Trump wants a wall, Clinton wants to see comprehensive immigration reform.

Trump says immigration amnesty is a “disaster”. He pivots to four of his guests; four mothers of children killed by illegal immigrants.

He says America needs strong borders. He says that his first act as President will be to get drug lords out of America.

“We’ve got some bad hombres and we need to get them out.”

Clinton relates a story of meeting the daughter of illegal immigrants. She says there are 15 million undocumented Americans and that Trump’s plan would involve going school to school and home to home deporting people.

“That is an idea that would rip this country apart.”

Clinton hits Trump with the charge that he used undocumented workers to build Trump Tower.

Trump says “we either have a border or we don’t”.

He says Clinton’s plan has “open borders”, Clinton calls that a “rank mischaracterisation”.

Clinton is posed with a line from a Wikileaks-revealed speech she gave to an Brazilian bank.

She uses it to talk about Russian hacking of US agencies.

She asks Trump to condemn Russian espionage against the US.

It’s a great attempt to pivot, but Trump doesn’t let her away with it and points it out to the laughter of the crowd.

Campaign 2016 Debate Source: Mark Ralston/Pool via AP

Trump says that if he got on with Russian President Vladimir Putin “that would be good”.

He says Clinton is “playing chicken” with Russia and that Putin has “no respect” for Clinton.

“That’s because he’d rather have a puppet,” the former Secretary of State fires back.

“You’re the puppet,” Trump responds.

It’s getting testy now.

Trump says he condemns any hacking of the US.

“I don’t know Putin. This is not my best friend.”

Clinton says that ten people who have had control of nuclear weapons have said that they do not trust Trump with the button.

What started as a substantive conversation on America’s future has become a fairly standard bickering match.

But now we’re onto the economy.

Clinton and Trump are diametrically opposed on the economy.

Clinton essentially lays out the plan that won Bill Clinton the 1992 election: new jobs and a thriving middle class.

She wants a higher minimum wage, a closed gender pay gap and supports for small businesses. She also lays out a vision for debt-free college.

She says her plan would create 10 million jobs, Trump’s would lose 3.5 million.

It really will be trickle-down economics on steroids.

He doesn’t look like he agrees.

Campaign 2016 Debate Source: AP

Trump has started his question on the economy by talking about NATO.

He takes credit for getting Germany and Japan to pay NATO subscriptions, then turns to Barack Obama’s trade agreements.

He calls NAFTA, signed by Bill Clinton, the “worst deal ever” for the third time tonight.

He promises to cut taxes massively and to “start the engine rolling again”.

Clinton fires back that her family knows a thing or two about national deficits, her husband having turned the largest budget deficit ever into the largest surplus ever.


Earlier, CNN’s Jake Tapper said Trump had to resist making one-liners that turn off independent voters.

So far, he hasn’t been able to, talking over Clinton and interjecting to tell moderator Chris Wallace a fact he was putting to Clinton was “correct”.

“Thank you, sir,” an audibly exasperated Wallace replied.

Trump says that US jobs are going overseas and GDP growth is slow.

Clinton points out he has both shipped jobs to Mexico and bought Chinese steel. In fact, she says, his Las Vegas hotel is made from Chinese steel.

“Excuse me, my turn.”

Trump begins to rail on Clinton for “not getting anything done” in 30 years of public life.

When she attempts to talk over him, he tells her it’s his turn.

Clinton says that while she was part of the team that got Osama Bin Laden, Trump was “hosting the Celebrity Apprentice”.

Trump says he would run the country the way he’s run his companies.

He then goes back to the idea that Clinton created ISIS.

“She’s going to get rid of ISIS? She’s going to get rid of nobody.”

This is a thorough and enjoyable overview of both candidates’ tax plans.

Campaign 2016 Debate Source: John Locher

We’re onto fitness to be President.

Trump says that every allegation that he groped or harassed women is false.

He says the women making the allegations want fame.

“It was all lies and it was all fiction.”

He points to allegations that Democratic operatives caused violence at his campaign rallies.

Clinton says that Trump goes after women’s dignity.

“We now know what Donald thinks and acts towards women. That’s who Donald is.

“Now it’s up to us to demonstrate who we are, and how we want to bring our country together.”

Trump says nobody has more respect for women than he does, then switches to Clinton’s emails.

Both candidates have clearly been told to go to their pet subjects – Clinton to Russia, Trump to emails – and will do so readily.

Clinton now lists all of the people Trump has “gone after” – a federal judge, a gold-star family, a disabled reporter.

She says this is not just a one-off, “this is a pattern”.

Trump says he just wants to talk about getting rid of ISIS.

It’s been testy since the earlier policy debates, with Trump on the offensive.

Is he scoring? Kind of. Clinton is a pro, though and he needs to stay on one topic.

Trump calls the Clinton Foundation a “criminal enterprise”. Here he’s landing punches with questions on why the foundation takes money from regimes which repress gays or don’t allow women to vote.

Clinton points out the charity spends 90% of donated funds on programmes and calls Trump to compare like with like in his foundation.

Trump calls the Trump Foundation a “small foundation” and denies that he spent foundation money on legal fees.

He points out that the fine in that case went to veterans’ housing. Which is a weird thing to brag about.

Clinton swings to Trump’s tax returns, which he still hasn’t released.

She says that illegal immigrants pay more taxes than he does.

Trump says that Clinton’s donors do the same thing as he does.

Remember earlier Ivanka Trump said her dad would accept the result of the election?

Not so much.

“I’ll look at it at the time.”

He says there are millions of people registered who shouldn’t be and that Clinton shouldn’t even be allowed run, showing the process is rigged.

He says he will “keep you in suspense” on whether he will support the transition of power.

Clinton says that is “horrifying” and that every time Trump loses, he claims that everything is rigged, including the Emmys.

“Should have gotten [the Emmy],” he interjects.

A TD and former Hillary staffer weighs in. And he’s not a fan of The Donald.

Clinton says she wouldn’t put US troops back into Iraq.

“I am encouraged that there is an effort led by the Iraqi army supported by the Kurds, but I will not support putting US soldiers into Iraq as an occupying force. That is not in our interest.”

Trump is upset that the attack on Mosul wasn’t done as a surprise attack. He says MacArthur and Patton are “spinning in their graves”.

Trump says that the US should never have been in Iraq and we’re back to whether he supported the 2003 invasion.

Clinton says it matters because he “has not told the truth about his position”.

Trump says that the Iraqi forces launched their attack on Mosul to make Clinton look good.

Trump goes to the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta leaked by Wikileaks.

“John Podesta said some horrible things about you and boy was he right.”

He points out that Bernie Sanders said in an email that Clinton has poor judgement.

“Ask Bernie who he’s voting for,” Clinton says.

Like any concert, the final few minutes are about the hits.

Trump calls the US deal with Iran a “Trojan horse”, Clinton talks about a no-fly zone over Syria.

A lot of the talk on Syria is similar to a question on the war in last Sunday’s town hall debate.

A moment to praise the moderator. Chris Wallace has been firm with both candidates, has asked good questions and had concise follow-ups.

We’re finally onto the national debt.

Both candidates have plans that would push debt to GDP to high levels.

Clinton’s plan, economists say, would put it at 86%, Trump’s 105%.

Trump says the projections are meaningless because his trade deals would create so many jobs.

Clinton goes hard after the middle class again.

She pledges to grow the middle class, to “invest in you”.

As she takes aim at Trump’s life experiences, he interrupts her “yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this one before”.

Trump is asked would he save Medicare and social security by upping taxes.

He says he’s going to create jobs and repeal Obamacare.

Clinton says that she will consider a “grand bargain” of upping taxes on the wealthy to put more money into social security.

“I will not cut benefits.”

She jokes that she and Trump will see their taxes rise, if Trump can’t find a way out of it.

He fires back:

“Such a nasty woman.”

Wallace gives each candidate a surprise minute to close their arguments.

Clinton says she’s “reaching out to all Americans”.

“We need everybody to help make our country what it should be.

“We need your talent, skills, energy, and ambition.

“I know the awesome responsibility of protecting our country, and I hope you will give me a chance to serve as your president.”

Trump positions himself as a strong man on the military and justice.

“We have a depleted military, we have the best people in the world in our military.

“We cannot take four more years of Obama, and that’s her.”

And that’s it.

No handshake between the candidates.

Trump landed on both Clinton and Obama on Obamacare and foreign policy, but his refusal to pledge to accept the result of the debate will not have turned any moderate independent to his side.

And that’s all from me. And from the US Presidential debates.

With just 18 days to go, the final sprint is now on. We’ll be covering it top to bottom until election day here on TheJournal.ie.