The Howard Baker Center hosted a watch party for the final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Oct. 19.
The two candidates solidified their stances and primarily focused on targeting character flaws in each other. Trump appeared defensive as Clinton targeted his recently revealed lewd and offensive comments toward women.
Clinton questioned Trump’s fitness for the presidency and defended her record and experience.
“I think it’s really up to all of us to demonstrate who we are and who our country is, and to stand up and be very clear about what we expect from our next president, how we want to bring our country together, where we don’t want to have the kind of pitting of people one against the other where instead we celebrate our diversity, we lift people up, and we make our country even greater,” Clinton said.
Donald Trump stirred up controversy during the latter portion of the debate when he failed to verify whether or not he would accept the results of the election.
“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said in reference to a question about the possibility of him conceding. “I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time”
This comment came after recent statements from Trump at rallies claiming that the election is rigged against him.
Chris Wallace, the moderator of the debate, questioned Trump’s comments and discussed the tradition of peaceful transitions of power in United States politics.
“But, sir, there is a tradition in this country – in fact, one of the prides of this country – is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?” Wallace asked.
Trump’s response only raised more ambiguity on whether or not he will concede if he loses.
“What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. Ok?” Trump replied.
Clinton and Trump did not spare each other in directing sharp jabs toward one another. Clinton targeted Trump on his trade policies as a businessman with an inflammatory description of his treatment toward American workers.
“So he goes around with crocodile tears about how terrible it is, but he has given jobs to Chinese steelworkers, not American steelworkers.” Clinton said.
Later in the debate Trump targeted Clinton with a personal insult. Trump interrupted Clinton and claimed she was, “Such a nasty woman.” in response to her comments on social security.
Chris Wallace brought the divisive debate to a close on a more optimistic note by asking the candidates to give their closing statements and make their case to be the next president of the United States.
Clinton made her final statement by stating “I will stand up for families against powerful interests, against corporations. I will do everything that I can to make sure that you have good jobs, with rising incomes, that your kids have good educations from preschool through college. I hope you will give me a chance to serve as your president.”
Trump made his final statement by targeting Clinton, Obama, and their policies.
“We are going to make America strong again, and we are going to make America great again, and it has to start now. We cannot take four more years of Barack Obama, and that’s what you get when you get her.” Trump closed.
After the debate, UT students discussed their views and opinions on how the debate went, who they support and what their views are on the candidates.
Marie Greenwood Campbell, a freshman Political Science major who identifies as an independent, said that the debate changed her mind on the election.
“I was leaning more towards Trump because of Clinton’s stance on life. I have realized that I cannot stand someone like Trump representing my country.” she said.
One attendee at the debate expressed distaste in how the candidates performed in the debate. AJ Schroder, a freshman Economics major who also identifies as an independent, was critical of the substance of the debate.
“I disliked that they devoted fifteen minutes to Trump’s 2005 comments,” Schroder said. “It seemed petty and immature that they are discussing this in a debate instead of focusing more on Supreme Court justices, inner-city crime, gun control and immigration.”
This was the final presidential debate in what has been a contentious election year. Early voting in Tennessee began the same day as the debate and will end on Nov. 3.
Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Quotes from the debate were verified using a transcript from the Washington Post. The full, annotated transcript can be found here.
Edited by Ben Webb.
Featured image by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, obtained using creativecommons.org