LAS VEGAS — A contentious debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Wednesday night involving abortion, guns and the Supreme Court turned upside down when Trump said he might not accept the results of the Nov. 8 election.
The third and final debate between Republican Trump and Democrat Clinton began calmly enough, as moderator Chris Wallace asked them about their views on the future of the Supreme Court, which is deadlocked 4-4 between conservative and liberal justices. Then Wallace asked both candidates whether they would back the election results.
"I will tell you at the time," Trump said, reversing his claim in a previous debate to support the outcome. "I will keep you in suspense."
Trump, who has crisscrossed the country saying the election is "rigged," argued that Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of State should have disqualified her from running. That, he said, was one reason he would not commit to supporting the election results. Clinton pounced and called the comments "horrifying."
"Every time things aren't going in Donald's direction, he claims it is rigged against him," said Clinton. She cited his insistence after he lost the Iowa caucuses and the Wisconsin primary that the Republican nomination process was rigged, that the court system was rigged when his Trump University was sued for fraud and even that he was cheated out of an Emmy for his Celebrity Apprentice show. "It's funny but it is also really troubling," she said.
Trump has crisscrossed the country saying the election is "rigged," raising fears among Republican and Democratic election officials that he will incite his supporters after the election in an attempt to undermine Clinton's ability to govern effectively. His running mate, daughter and various campaign officials have insisted that Trump will respect the outcome of the election amid a series of national polls showing Clinton with a wide lead both at the national level and in critical battleground states including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.
The first several minutes of the debate were civil, compared to their previous matchup in St. Louis. But by the end of the debate, Trump had called Clinton a "nasty woman" after she needled him over whether he would agree to higher payroll taxes to fund Social Security. On Russia, Clinton called on Trump to denounce the nation's suspected hacking of her campaign chairman's emails, and the two accused each other of being "puppets" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Clinton framed a potential Trump's presidency as a test of the nation's moral character due to his treatment of women, minorities and the disabled, saying it's "up to all of us to demonstrate who we are and who our country is.” Trump landed blows over Clinton's family foundation, saying she should return donations from countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar guilty of mistreatment of women and gays.
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