The final of the three debates for the 2016 presidential election took place on Wednesday, Oct. 19. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took to the debate stage in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where moderator Chris Wallace from Fox News proposed a series of topics that the candidates would discuss in fifteen-minute segments. The topics of the night ranged from immigration and border control, the economy, stances on military interference in Mosul, Iraq and the peaceful transition of power after the election cycle.
When it came to foreign policy, both Trump and Clinton faced criticism over their policies regarding the protection of our borders. Clinton targeted Trump on his radical border control policies, including the construction of the infamous wall that has been central to Trump’s immigration platform. According to The Washington Post, recent polls have suggested that nearly 70 percent of voters disagree with Trump’s border security policies.
Trump tried to argue his opponent had also supported the construction of the wall when she was in the U.S. Senate. He also seemed to condemn President Obama’s actions of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants while in the Oval Office, which effectively confused voters on whether or not Trump actually agrees with his own immigration policies. Clinton dodged these accusations by arguing that border security is necessary in places for the protection of American citizens, but thoroughly condemned the controversial policy.
Chris Wallace targeted Clinton on her immigration policies as well and questioned her in particular about her “open borders” policies. Clinton touched on this issue in the previous debate, and briefly reaffirmed her stances on strict vetting processes for immigrants entering the country, as well as her plan to offer more access to the path of citizenship to any undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Clinton turned the issue of protecting the United States from foreign countries by attacking Trump on his relations with Vladimir Putin. Trump remarkably condemned the actions of Russian hackers to interfere in this U.S. election cycle. He confirmed that he supports good relations between Russia and the United States, and made a claim that Clinton and President Obama have been “outsmarted” by Putin.
When it came to a discussion about the military action taking place in Mosul, Iraq, Trump claimed that the action was only taken to make Clinton “look good” right before the election. He also denied that he ever supported the war in Iraq, while Clinton honorably owned up to her own support of the war at a time when many politicians from both parties believed it was necessary for the protection of American citizens after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. On the topic of Syria, Clinton said she would support a no-fly zone over the country after many negotiations have been made with Syria and Russia in order to prevent a new war.
On domestic issues, the biggest topic discussed dealt with the selection of Supreme Court justices. It has been suggested that the next president may have the opportunity to appoint up to three or four justices to the Supreme Court, including the spot left vacant by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year. Clinton condemned the Republican-dominated Senate for not following their constitutional duty and refusing to vote on the nominee that President Obama has presented to replace Scalia.
Clinton went on to say that she would appoint justices that would uphold the 1973 “Roe v. Wade” Supreme Court decision, which was critical in permitting a woman’s right to receive an abortion. Clinton stood firm on her stance that a woman has a right to make her own decisions when it comes to her healthcare, and that she will definitely nominate justices to the court that agree with that stance.
Trump’s ideal Supreme Court leaned towards an equally controversial issue: the protection of the Second Amendment at all costs. Trump said he would elect justices that would uphold the legacy of Justice Scalia and interpret the Constitution exactly as it is written. He condemned any restrictions on the Second Amendment and confirmed his justices will focus primarily on protecting that explicit right to American citizens. Clinton partially agreed with Trump, saying that the Second Amendment is a guaranteed right that deserves to be protected, but also needs to have common sense regulations to it.
Probably the biggest topic of the night, however, concerned whether or not Donald Trump would uphold the tradition of a peaceful transition of power to Hillary Clinton if she wins the election in November. Trump avoided the topic all together by stating: “I will look at it at the time.” This issue is a major concern for the safety of the candidates after the election results are in and undermines the integrity of the American election process.
With the conclusion of the final debate, the only thing left in this election cycle is to hit the polls on Nov. 8 and cast a vote.