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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Presidential debate
"We've got some bad hombres in America" - the seven biggest moments from Trump v Clinton III
This is what went on in a feisty affair.

Campaign 2016 Debate Patrick Semansky Patrick Semansky

IT WAS A cracker for politics watchers.

Trump and Clinton, the names which have dominated the headlines and column inches for over a year, facing off one-on-one for the last time.

With just three weeks or so to polling day, the pair faced off in a feisty debate in a rancorous campaign.

It all kicked off even before the candidates made it to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas…

1. The Real Slim Shady throws shade

EminemMusic / YouTube

Hours before the debate, Eminem dropped a new song in which he savaged Donald Trump.

The rapper, who hasn’t released a full-length album in three years, has some strong words for the billionaire.

“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!”

The build-up also saw an extremely heated debate between surrogates for both sides – former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for Trump and NBA team owner Mark Cuban for Clinton.

That rancour carried into the debate as neither the candidates nor their families shook hands before or after.

2. Bad hombres

Campaign 2016 Debate Joe Raedle Joe Raedle

It feels like every debate since 2008 has had a memetic moment.

Ours came early on when Trump pledged to rid America of Mexican drug lords in the country illegally.

“We need strong borders, we cannot give amnesty. I want to build the wall and stop the drugs.

We’re going to get the bad people out and secure the border. But we have some bad hombres here and we’re gonna get them out.

Bad hombres became the Twitter topic of the evening, trending almost immediately.

3. Russian fighters

Germany Ukraine Summit Markus Schreiber Markus Schreiber

The debate’s first flashpoint came over the candidates’ stance on Russia.

Clinton actually raised the hacking of her campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails first, calling on Trump to denounce the hacking.

Trump argued that he might negotiate better relations with Moscow than Clinton would, declaring: “Putin, from everything I see, has no respect for this person.”

Clinton’s response was sharp:

Well, that’s because he would rather have a puppet as president of the United States.

Trump blustered back: “No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

4. Rigs and reels

Campaign 2016 Debate Voter Voices AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Trump was in excellent form early on, hitting Clinton on immigration and foreign policy. However, the post-debate discussion will be focused on one thing – Trump’s refusal to pledge to accept the result of the election.

It was a bizarre moment, coming just hours after both his daughter Ivanka and Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence had said he would.

I will look at it at the time… I will keep you in suspense.

The immediate reaction was one of horror as a major party candidate refused to endorse the systems and structures of American democracy.

Van Jones on CNN called the declaration an “astonishing lack of patriotism”, adding that “you can’t polish this turd”.

“That is horrifying,” said Clinton.

Clinton reeled off examples of times Trump has lost and claimed the system is rigged against him – the Republican primaries, a lawsuit against Trump University – ending with a bizarre, but funny, interjection as Clinton pointed out he once claimed the Emmys were rigged.

“Should have gotten it,” he said.

5. Nasty woman

Many believed that Trump’s biggest challenge was to keep his temperament in check and appear presidential.

However, he often slipped into interrupting Clinton, repeatedly saying “wrong” as she spoke.

US political commentators had said in the pre-debate coverage that Trump had to cut back on the interruptions and appear calm.

Too often, he didn’t do that.

6. Women’s issues

And those interruptions culminated in a moment that could have decided the election.

Trump’s major deficits in terms of demographics are with college educated people and women.

During a question on taxes, Clinton joked that she and Trump will see their taxes rise, if “Trump can’t find a way out of it”.

He fired back:

“Such a nasty woman.”

It was, in the context of the debate, a pitch that he should have let go. As Josh Lyman once implored Toby Ziegler: don’t take the bait.

But Trump took the bait. And bit big time.

Within seconds, Twitter was flooded:

And that allowed Clinton to pounce on him. Clinton said Trump “thinks belittling women makes him bigger.

“He goes after their dignity, their self-worth.”

7. No knockout

Campaign 2016 Debate David Goldman David Goldman

Trump’s performance was fairly strong at times, but he failed to hit Clinton on many areas.

He left Bill Clinton’s sexual history and the Benghazi attack largely untouched, and he failed to land on social welfare.

Clinton, on the other hand, pounced on him at times, hitting him with lists and patterns of his behaviour and remarks.

An instant poll from CNN found that 52% of debate watchers thought Clinton won the debate, to 39% in favour of Trump. While that made Clinton the winner of all three debates according to the same poll, it was a smaller margin than last Sunday’s debate.

In a bout where he needed a knockout, Trump barely hung on to lose on points.

Read: As it happened: Trump and Clinton face off in last presidential debate

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