The BUNS Guide to the Final Debate

Photo composite: Allie Wimley and Peter Smith
Written by BU News Service

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump are set to square off tonight in the third and final presidential debate. BU News Service staff weigh in on what to watch for tonight. And join us for live blog coverage of the debate at 9 p.m.

Can Tonight’s Debate Make a Difference?
Shannon Golden

After the recent scandal filled weeks, Sin City seems to be an appropriate setting for the third and final Presidential debate. In a city where gambling is a main attraction, tonight brings to the table some of the highest stakes the city has ever seen, the presidency.

With Hillary Clinton leading in the polls, tonight is the last chance for Donald Trump to win over the undecided. He will have to work towards changing the narrative from his past and personality to focus on the issues the people care about, such as the economy and national security. In order for Trump to connect with voters, he needs to avoid talking about himself and focus on the American people. At a time when the election has been filled with dishonesty and accusations, Trump should portray a positive vision for the country.

Clinton’s strategy can go one of two ways. The first option is for her to go on the attack against Trump for the leaked footage and the recent women coming forward with sexual assault allegations. This would force Trump to spend time defending himself but would also make Clinton vulnerable to issues such as her husband’s scandals and the question of her honesty. The second option for Clinton is to play it safe and allow Trump to run his course throughout the 90 minutes. With these possibilities the final debate does not seem to promise anymore excitement than the first two.

Where the final debate can provide something new is in the moderation. Fox News’ Chris Wallace will moderate tonight’s debate.  The moderators from the first two debates received much criticism so people are hoping for Wallace to provide something different. Wallace has done interviews with both of the candidates and has been able to ask questions that aren’t always comfortable for interviewees which could explain why Clinton has devoted five days to debate prep. Wallace has the ability to provide questions to the candidates that the American voters need to have answered before November 8.

With the latest Monmouth University national poll of likely voters showing Clinton ahead by 12 points, tonight’s debate can either change the course of the election or allow it to remain on its’ current path.


Trump’s Choice: Stay the Course or Make Adjustments
Michael Sol Warren

Donald Trump is losing by a lot. He has disappointed in the first two debates and he has continued to undercut Mike Pence, stymieing any momentum his running mate may have gained from a strong vice presidential debate performance. Accusations of past sexual assaults have shattered Trump’s previously tenuous footing.

The anger that powered Trump through the Republican primary and the early parts of the general election is still there. Attendance at Trump rallies is still through the roof and his main supporter base is not going anywhere. The voters in that base still agree with at least some of what Trump says, they still associate the emotions Trump plays off of and they still hate Clinton.

But the undecided voters who had been leaning towards Trump are now leaving the campaign in droves. So far, Trump’s response has been to double down on his angry message. Claims of a rigged election the brushing off of sexual assault accusations have become a standard part of Trump’s campaign strategy recently. But that’s not working; that strategy is doing little to win back the voters who have left.

Trump has an opportunity tonight to, for once, present himself as level-headed and presidential. He can engage in actual policy debate. If Clinton chooses to attack him over the new sexual assault accusations (as she should), Trump can show that he actually prepared by deflecting his opponents comments and keeping the debate focused on the questions.

He needs to do these things. His base is not going anywhere, but the independent voters he so desperately needs to win back fled weeks ago. This debate may be Trump’s last chance to convince them he is a competent alternative to a widely disliked Clinton.


Will the Candidates Talk Policy in Their Final Face-Off?
Eesha Pendharkar

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have left policy matters mostly unaddressed in their previous clashes, preoccupied instead with conflicting over emails, taxes and leaked tapes. The third debate is the final chance the public has to inform themselves of the candidates’ plans for dealing with issues of public interest like climate change, abortion and education. With these topics just being mentioned in passing or avoided altogether in the first two debates, it is vital that they be addressed before November 8.

The announced debate topics seem focused on asking questions the candidates have answered in their previous clashed, like taxes and immigration.

The candidates’ stances on education haven’t been in public discussion since the primaries, where Trump said he “loved the poorly educated”. Clinton has spoken about reducing student debt, but hasn’t provided any details on how she plans to do that. These two contrasting views on education need to be addressed in the final face-off.

Another topic that has been avoided is abortion. The vice presidential debate included a discussion on abortion with republican Mike Pence standing firm on his pro-life views and democrat Tim Kaine echoing his campaign’s pro-choice stance, but the issue hasn’t been tackled by the presidential candidates themselves in their debates.

Perhaps most conspicuous in its absence is the matter of climate change. It was mentioned in passing in the second debate when Ken Bone asked about clean energy, but both Trump and Clinton evaded direct policy discussion on climate change so far except for Clinton’s jab in the first debate, “Donald thinks climate change is a hoax.” Given this lack of discussion of a major issue, it is disappointing to not have climate change in the list of topics for the final presidential debate.

The final debate should be aimed at providing voters with a deeper understanding of whether their elected candidate will stand for the issues they care about, rather than yet another 90 minutes full of personal insults and scandals.


Will Trump Commit to Accepting the Election Results This Time Around? 
Sarah Toy and Erin Wade

With polls showing the presidential race slipping away, Trump has claimed in recent days that the election is “rigged” against him and that there is “large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.”

He and his campaign are calling on supporters to monitor polling places, angering elections officials across the country.

PolitiFact, a political fact-checking organization, has called Trump’s election-rigging claim “pants on fire,” its rating for statements that are entirely untrue.

Republican officials, including a spokesperson for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, have disputed Trump’s claims, as well, the New York Times reported Sunday.

President Obama responded, saying, “I have never seen in my lifetime, or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place.”

He added that Trump should “stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters, “[Trump] knows he’s losing and is trying to blame that on the system. This is what losers do.”

During the first presidential debate less than a month ago, Lester Holt asked Trump if he would accept the outcome of the election.

Trump answered, “If she wins, I will absolutely support her.”

Things have since changed. Chris Wallace will almost certainly ask the same question tonight. Watch what Trump’s answer will be.


Will the candidates address Trump’s claims of a “rigged election?”
Kristina Atienza

This weekend brought a new concern to the democracy of American politics with Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump releasing a series of tweets claiming that the election process is rigged.

Trump’s tweets didn’t just target democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but also members of the Republican party like House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump went as far to say that the media is rigging the election in Clinton’s favor, to which Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, responded that voters will “See through Donald Trump’s shameful attempts to undermine an election before it happens.”

After the recent false twitter report of a postal office worker ripping up ballots, there is more attention on if the voters’ voices will be heard come November 8th.

Trump supporters have openly shared their candidate’s belief in the “rigged election.” In a report by the Boston Globe, supporters have shared plans to “look for illegal immigrants who may attempt to vote.

“I’ll look for … well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” said Trump Supporter Steve Webb of his plans to ‘watch the precincts.’ “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

In a statement, the Trump campaign has denounced the violent plans of supporters stating that “those who hold unacceptable views do not represent the millions of Americans who are tired of the rigged Washington system that will make their voices heard at the ballot box on Nov. 8.”

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