Yes, I’m doing this in a live blog — and I have to admit that I’m feeling much better about the world now that Evan McMullin is leading in Utah. Yes, I know his chances are slim, but I can vote for someone without compromising my ethics, even if it requires checking on the write-in process.
(Note: comments in italics were made afterwards, when reviewing my notes.)
Chris Wallace (Fox News) welcomes us to the debate.
Strange camera angle makes Clinton & Trump the same height.
Topic 1: Supreme Court. “You will determine the balance of the court for the next quarter century.” Is the Constitution a living document?
HRC: The SC raises the question, what kind of country will we be? The SC needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful, wealthy. Must stand up for women’s rights, LGBTs, say no to “Citizens United,” it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, Roe. “the SC should represent all of us.”
She really seems to think of the SC as a legislative-type body, not having to do with law and the judiciary. This really bugs me: it seems to suggest that the Court should just decide, in a public policy-manner, which decision would have the most desirable outcome for the most deserving groups, rather than looking at what the law has to say on the question.
Trump: The SC is what it’s all about. Ginsburg made inappropriate statements about me & supporters. SC should uphold 2nd amendment. If my opponent wins, we will have a 2nd amendment which is a “small replica” of what it is now. Justices will be pro-life, great scholars, people of tremendous respect, will interpret constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. It’s all about the constitution the way it was meant to be.
(Trump looks like he skipped the makeup — but no sniffles! Clinton is very polished in the makeup.)
CW: The Court ruled in Heller than there is an individual right to bear arms. What’s wrong with that?
HRC: I support the 2A, but there must be reasonable legislation. 33,000 ppl die from guns; we need to close the gun show loophole. I diagree with the way the court applied the 2A in Heller, D.C. wanted to require safe gun storage.
CW: online voters chose 2A as a key question. Do you believe HRC?
DT: I saw HRC’s statement; she was very upset with the Heller decision.
HRC: I was upset because toddlers get a hold of guns that aren’t stored safely. But I believe there is an individual right to bear guns. There is not a conflict with sensible laws.
This question is getting boring, actually.
And CW figured this out, I guess. Moving on to abortion.
CW: to DT, do you want to court to overturn Roe v. Wade?
DT: if that happens, it would go back to the states.
CW: do you want that to happen?
DT: yes, that will happen, because I will appoint pro-life judges.
HRC: well, duh, I support the right of a woman to (abortion euphemisms). So many states are placing restrictions, defunding Planned Parenthood, I will defend PP. Trump said women should be punished.
CW: How far does the right go?
HRC: Roe v. Wade allows regulation on abortion with life & health exceptions; I opposed partial-birth ban because it didn’t have health exception. She then pretty much says that all later abortions are due to tragic situations.
(Trump is really, really subdued. It’s as if he’s tired, or just doesn’t know what to say.)
DT: she just said it is OK to rip a 9 month baby from the womb.
HRC: That’s just “scare rhetoric.” I’ve seen countries where the government has forced abortions or prohibited it, the government has no business.
(DT really just doesn’t know what to say or how to counter her.)
You know, if you think about it, Clinton’s whole defense of late and very-late term abortion is always that each and every time a woman has a late abortion (with no definition of “late”) there’s a deeply tragic story behind it, not only denies the actual facts, that there are plenty of at least 2nd trimester abortions that are simply “I didn’t realize how far along I was,” but is a sort of “benefit of the doubt” that just wouldn’t fly in other situations.
CW: DT, you want to build a wall. HRC, you have no enforcement proposals, and just want amnesty.
DT: Amnesty is a disaster, we need strong borders. In the audience we have 4 mothers whose children were killed by illegals. We have no country if we have no border. In New Hampshire, the biggest complaint is heroin, pouring across the southern border. We have to have strong borders, keep the drugs out. I want a wall. I want to get the drug lords out; then we can at a later date make a determination as to the rest. Then he sniffled!
HRC: I don’t want to rip families apart. We have 11 million undocumented people, 4 million citizen children. DT said every illegal would be “subject to deportation” – that would be a round-up. That would rip our country apart. I support border security. My plan “of course includes border security.”
DT: Jumps in to raise NAFTA. Then says HRC wanted the wall but didn’t get it built.
HRC: I voted for “border security.” I’ll give amnesty so that employers like DT can’t exploit workers.
DT: a massive jumble of words. It’s unfair that people can cut in line.
HRC: We will not have open borders.
Trump’s response here was terrible – he’s said before that “subject to deportation” doesn’t mean “round up” but just “you have no right to expect to stay here.” But he just sputters out words.
CW: In a speech from Wikileaks, you said your dream is for open borders. Is that your dream?
HRC: I was just talking about energy. And by the way, Wikileaks was a matter of the Russians engaging in espionage against Americans. Then calls on Trump to reject Russian help and espionage.
DT: That was a great pivot from open borders. People are going to pour into our country.
(DT woke up: he very visibly tured red.)
I don’t know Putin, if we got along well, that would be good. Putin has no respect, and we’re in serious trouble. She’s playing chicken.
HRC: Putin would rather have a puppet – Trump. It’s clear that you (Trump) have encouraged Putin and are getting help from him. 17 intelligence agencies have all concluded these attacks are coming from the Kremlin.
DT: Hillary, you have no idea. HRC: The government said it was.
DT: She doesn’t like Putin because he has outsmarted her.
CW, to DT: do you condemn any interference?
DT: Yes, of course. Putin has outsmarted her and Obama every step of the way. Syria, missles. They’ve taken over in the Middle East. She’s been outplayed.
HRC: I find it ironic that he’s raising nuclear weapons when he’s been casual about more countries getting more nukes. The bottom line on nukes, there’s 4 minutes between when the president gets the order and when nukes are launched. that’s why so many presidents, etc., have said they would not trust Trump to be president.
DT: I have 200 admirals, etc., supporting me. And we need to renegotiate our terms with Japan, etc., she’s twisting that to say that I support nuke expansion.
HRC: DT wants to tear up our alliances.
New topic: HRC wants more spending, taxes. CW: what’s your general approach?
HRC: I want the biggest jobs program since world war II. Advanced manufacturing, climate change. Help small businesses, raise national minimum wage. Equal pay for women. Free college. We’ll have the wealthy pay their fair share, corporations. Independent experts said it could produce 10 million new jobs. Donald’s plan would lose 3 million jobs, add 20 trillion to debt, because it’s just tax cuts for the rich.
CW, to DT: why would your plan be better?
DT: her plan would double your taxes. Massive, massive tax increase. But back to prior topic, Japan, Germany, Saudia Arabia, we protect them, why don’t they pay? All of the sudden, they’re paying. I’m a big fan of NATO, but they have to pay.
We’ll renegotiate our trade agreements; we’ll have plenty of trade but on better terms. our jobs are being sucked out of places like Florida, upstate New York. We’ll make a great trade deal. We’ll cut taxes massively. We’ll cut business taxes so they hire more people. Our country is dying at 1% GDP.
HRC: I will not add a penny to the debt. When my husband was president we had a surplus.
This is terrible. I already find it horrifying that we’re in a situation where, like some 3rd world country, our first female president would be the wife of a former president, rather than someone who rose up in her right. Now she seems to be taking credit for his success.
CW: Your plan is similar to the Obama stimulus plan; you said that Obama didn’t spend enough. Is your plan just a repeat of the stimulus?
HRC: the economy was so bad then Obama saved the economy. We dug ourselves out, but we have to invest from the middle out and the ground up. (Two attempts at idioms that just don’t work!)
CW, to DT: even conservative economists say your plans don’t work.
DT: India is growing at 8%, China at 5%, we are growing at 1%, going down. Last week, anemic jobs report. I’ve visited so many places where people are suffering. (He just doesn’t address the tax/spending issue, just goes back to trade.)
HRC: on TPP, I was against it after I was for it. And DT has shipped jobs overseas, and I have fought against China dumping steel & aluminum, and Trump has bought foreign steel. I will have a trade prosecutor.
DT: back to the claim about “she’s been doing this for 30 years.” (This is a terrible line!)
She scratches her chin. Probably a secret sign to someone. . .
HRC: she takes the “30 year” accusation as an opportunity to cite her resume and attack his. I was watching Bin Ladin be killed while he was hosting Celebrity Apprentice.
DT: I built a phenomenal company; if we could run our country the way I ran my company, we’d be proud of it. Take a look at her record — she and Obama created ISIS by creating a vacuum, and ISIS is in 32 countries.
CW: next segment, fitness to be president. At the last debate, Trump said, grabbing women was just talk, now women have come forward and said you actually did these things, groping and forcible kisses. At the same time, DT has said WJC was just as bad.
DT: I don’t know those women. Now we’ve got revelations that at my rallies, Clinton & Obama were behind the violence. I believe that she got these people to step forward to get their 10 minutes of fame. It’s all lies.
HRC: DT said he didn’t do that because they weren’t attractive enough. (DT: I didn’t say that.) Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. We need to stand up and be clear that we don’t want this, we need to celebrate diversity. America is great because America is good. (again!)
DT: Nobody has more respect for women than I do. This has largely been debunked. I’ll talk about something different: what isn’t fiction is her e-mails, where she destroyed 33,000 e-mails after getting a subpoena. A 4 star general is going to jail for lying to the FBI, but she gets away with it. That’s what we should be talking about.
HRC: Donald always denies responsibility. He never apologizes for anything. He mocked a disabled reporter (DT: wrong!), went after the Khans, John McCain, a federal judge, this is a pattern of divisiveness, a very dark and dangerous vision where he incites violence.
(Hey: it occurs to me: there have been no reports about violence at his rallies in a long time.)
CW, to HRC: in your confirmation, you promised to avoid even appearance of conflict of interest regarding the Foundation. Why isn’t it pay-to-play?
HRC: I am happy to talk about the foundation because it is a world-renowned charity. It made it possible for 11 million people to have AIDS treatment.
CW: do you want to address pay-for-play?
HRC: there is no evidence.
DT: Saudia Arabia, Qatar, gave millions of dollars, they treat women horribly, and you take their money. Why not give it back? In Haiti, they hate the Clintons because of what the Clinton Foundation did in Haiti.
HRC: we spend 90% of the money that is donated, on the needy. Really? I thought the figures were much, much less. Should probably look for a fact-check Re: Haiti, the Clinton Foundation raised $30 million to help Haiti.
DT: Trump Foundation is a small foundation.
various defense, then HRC: but there’s no proof because DT hasn’t released his tax returns, except that we know that DT hasn’t paid a penny in federal income tax. And half of illegal immigrants pay federal income tax. At this point I start to be genuinely surprised that Clinton’s playing such an attack role, changing the subject to attack him. Doesn’t reflect well on her.
DT: We’re entitled to take depreciation deductions, Soros and Buffet did the same thing. You should have changed the law when you were a senator.
CW, to DT: you have been saying that the election is rigged. will you pledge to accept the results of the election?
DT: I will decide at the time. The media is poisoning the minds of voters. There are millions of registered voters who shouldn’t be registered. HRC shouldn’t be allowed to run, she’s guilty of a serious crime, so that’s why I say it’s rigged.
CW: there is a tradition that the loser concedes for the good of the country.
DT: “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
I can’t believe he’s saying this! I really can’t believe he said this! I mean, sure, he’s got to rally the base, but couldn’t he have at last taken the time to work out with his advisors some way to do both, maybe, “Chris, I am going to encourage my supporters to do the important work of poll-monitoring, and I do believe that in the long-term we need to get better practices in place to prevent fraudulent voting, and if there appear to be irregularities in any state with close results, of course we will investigate them. But my opponents have accused my supporters of planning violence if the election doesn’t go our way, and that is something I would never, ever do, believe me.
HRC: I am appalled! And the FBI cleared me.
DT: The situation — and the atty general meeting with her husband on the tarmac, is disgraceful.
CW: if the Iraqi army retakes Mosul, what next? Will you put US troops in Iraq to protect against ISIS?
HRC: I will not support putting American soldiers into Iraq as an occupying force. Would invite ISIS to reconstitute itself. Should instead press on ISIS in Syria. But we have lots of work to do, Syria will remain a hotbed as long as civil war continues. Will push for a no-fly zone in Syria for ultimate goal of a serious negotiation.
DT: We had Mosul, but we lost Mosul when she left. The reason for the push for Mosul was that they wanted to get the ISIS leaders, but with the long announcement, the ISIS leaders have now left. They made so many mistakes. Iran should thank us for the ultimate Mosul victory because Iran is taking over Iraq, so Iran will be the beneficiary. (Doesn’t answer the question.)
HRC: once again, DT is denying he supported invasion of Iraq. Google “Donald Trump Iraq” and you’ll see that he was for Iraq. (DT: wrong! wrong!) You need to understand all the interplay. yes, we need to go after the leadership, but we also need to get rid of the fighters. So I googled, following Clinton’s instructions. The first hit, from factcheck.org, is actually not anything that proves he was for the war. The Howard Stern quote, “yeah, I guess so,” it characterizes as “hesitant” and there’s nothing much else.
Now everyone is talking over everyone else.
CW: following up on Aleppo. In last debate, DT said Aleppo has “basically fallen” which is not true. (DT: disputes this.) Invites clarification.
DT: Aleppo has fallen from any standpoint. What do you need, a signed document? (So, the argument is whether the battle is ongoing – DT’s point seems to be that it’s continuing, but a lost cause.) Then jumps into more general criticism: we don’t know who the rebels are. Assad is a bad guy, but the rebels might very well be worse. This is what’s caused the Great Migration.
CW: if you impose a no fly zone, and a Russian plane violates it, will you shoot down that plane?
HRC: this would be the result of negotiation. We would make it clear to the Russians (so it other words we’d get them all to agree not to fly in the no fly zones). I really didn’t like this statement — she seemed to be saying that our negotiations would be a bluff, but we don’t want the Russians to call our bluff, we just want them to agree to stay out of the air. And I am going to let women and children refugees into the country because of that sad boy in Aleppo. And the Pulse nightclub killer was born in Queens.
DT: We had a cease fire a couple weeks ago, during the cease-fire, Russia took over vast swathes of land, then gave up the cease fire. We are outplayed.
CW: Final segment. National debt now 70% of GDP. Highest since WWII. Nonpartisan committee says would rise to 87% under HRC’s plan, 105% under DT’s plan.
DT: They’re wrong because I’m going to create jobs. We will create an economic machine the likes of which we haven’t seen in many decades.
HRC: When I hear DT say, “make America great again, I wonder when he thought America ever was great.” He has been criticizing our country for decades. He even criticized Ronald Reagan. Regarding debt, I do not add a penny, I pay for all my proposals with money from the wealthy. (So denies the 87%, I guess.)
CW: last issue: biggest issue is entitlements. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says neither of them has a plan. How would you save Medicare and Social Security? Would you implement a Grand Bargain?
DT: Will cut takes and repeal and replace Obamacare. (So just flat-out refuses to answer the question about Soc Sec & Medicare).
HRC: I fill fix the trust fund by taxing the wealthy. I will not cut benefits, but will increase them for low income workers and for women. I will fix Medicare by implementing wellness programs. So my practice of following progressives as well as conservatives on twitter meant that I was prepared for this: I’d been meaning to blog, in fact, on the fact that progressives are very vehement that Social Security benefits must be expanded and added to the list of things funded by taxes on the wealthy. But helpful hint: you can talk about bumping up benefits with tax hikes on the wealthy, but once you do so, you simply cannot call Social Security “earned benefits” any longer.
CW: I would like to end this debate in a positive note. 1 minute for final statement.
HRC: I am reaching out to all Americans, Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Blah, blah, blah.
DT: When I started this campaign, I started with “make America great again.” We need to fix the military, help veterans, our inner cities are a disaster, you get shot walking to the store. We cannot take 4 more years of Barack Obama, and that’s what you get if you get her.
So that’s that. I suppose, in the end, it was better than the prior debates, but that’s a pretty low bar. Trump’s inability to talk policy was very clearly on display tonight, even if he did splutter and bluster less than before. I was relieved that he didn’t sniffle this time, and I thought it was fascinating that his face got progressively redder over time. What surprised me more was Clinton’s turn towards attacking Trump with bizarre off-topic pivots: turning a question on open borders into a claim that Trump supported Russian espionage, and would carelessly start a nuclear war; a question on the economy into charges that Trump bought Chinese steel and a question on the Clinton Foundation into a charge that Trump’s foundation was corrupt and he was hiding it by not releasing his taxes. And she abandoned her canned e-mail response of “I said I was sorry, dammit” with “there is no proof I did anything wrong.” On, and she turned a question on Mosul into an accusation that Trump supported invading Iraq.
Trump could have run circles around her if he weren’t, well, Trump. I bet Evan McMullin would have. He probably could speak to all of these policy issues knowledgeably. And I’d be willing to bet that neither he nor his spouse has groped anyone, nor violated federal law around public records and classified information, nor conducted massive pay-to-play operations.
And final thought: there’ve been new videos documenting that the Democrats very intentionally acted to incite violence at Trump rallies. But that’s really all died down. Does that mean that anti-Trump inciters have all just given up on the endeavor?
Anyway, did you watch it?