Trump sets off storm with refusal to accept US poll result
With the November 8 elections just 19 days away, the face-off in Las Vegas was seen as the Republican nominee’s last best chance to turn around a sinking White House bid.
But with millions watching on television, a defiant Trump turned what many thought began as his strongest debate performance yet into a gift to Clinton and another major headache for Republicans.
He meets up with Clinton again at the end of the day in New York at the Al Smith Dinner, an annual charity event where the candidates traditionally engage in a “friendly roast.” But the animosity between them seems almost certain to get in the way.
They would not even shake hands at Wednesday night’s debate, and at one point Trump interrupted Clinton to call her “such a nasty woman“.
Clinton, who is vying to become the first woman president of the United States, told reporters she was “both relieved and very grateful” that the debates were now behind her.
She and husband Bill appeared arm in arm at an outdoor rally, basking in the cheers of some 5,000 supporters.
Polls show her leading by more than six points and making gains even in states like Arizona, Texas and Georgia that have long been in the Republican column.
“Hillary Clinton almost certainly will win the election, but the question is what is going to be the effect on Republican Senate, House and other candidates,” said Robert Erikson, a political science professor at Columbia University.
On Thursday, Michelle Obama will be stumping for Clinton in Arizona and President Barack Obama will speak at a rally in Miami. Obama earlier in the week told Trump to “stop whining” about a rigged election and go try to get people to vote for him.
But the New York billionaire plunged ahead anyway, paying no heed.
“The media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile-on is so amazing,” Trump said, referring to reports citing women accusing him of sexual assault, which he said were “fiction” and drummed up by Team Clinton.
He alleged that millions of fake voters had been registered and that the 68-year-old Clinton should not even have been allowed to run because she mishandled classified State Department emails.
The former secretary of state scored an early hit against the Republican real estate mogul, alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin was backing his run for office.
Trump argued that he might have 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.” Compared to previous brawls, the debate got off to a subdued but oddly substantive start.
Discussing their vision for the Supreme Court, Clinton insisted gay rights and women’s rights must not be rolled back while Trump vowed to appoint anti-abortion justices who would also protect gun rights.
“If you go with what Hillary is saying, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” he said.
“Using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate,” Clinton responded.