Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton walked onto the debate stage for the final head to head without greeting each other. Each acknowledged the crowd before assuming their positions.
The discussion began more civil than the first two, Political Analyst and USF political science professor Susan MacManus said. However, it eventually devolved into the same old arguments.
“They both tried to rise above the negativity, but the bottom line is that it did segue into that pretty quickly,” she said. “There was a little bit more control of the debate by the moderator (and) overall it was a more civilized debate, but not a whole lot.”
She noted that the candidates seemed to remain on topic throughout the event, a change she attributed this to the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, stating that he had more control and gave each of them some tough issues that haven’t often been discussed until now. These topics included the Democratic candidate’s pay-to-play in the Clinton Foundation money.
The recent release of Clinton’s emails by the online organization WikiLeaks were addressed on several occasions.
When asked about the seven women who have come forward accusing Trump of sexual assault, the Republican candidate dismissed the women as liars before changing the topic to discuss videos that suggested Democratic National Committee two operatives plotted to incite violence at his rallies.
Similarly, Clinton was asked about a leaked speech from which Wallace quoted her as supporting open borders.
“I do want us to have an electric grid, an energy system that crosses boarders. I think that will be a great benefit for us,” Clinton said in response. “What’s really important about WikiLeaks is that the Russian government as engaged in espionage against Americans. They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions (and) they have given that information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting it on the internet.”
MacManus said that organizations such as WikiLeaks may have played a role in this election.
“WikiLeaks was a very good line of questioning because … more has been released just today,” she said. “People are interested in that. Whether it really pushes somebody in one direction or the other, we don’t know.”
Additionally, when Wallace posed a question concerning the loss of welfare systems such as Social Security and Medicare, Trump discussed abolishing The Affordable Care Act.
“I’m cutting taxes, we’re going to grow the economy,” Trump said. “It’s going to grow at a record rate. One thing that we have to do (is) repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare. It’s destroying our country, it’s destroying our businesses, our small businesses and our big businesses.”
During the debate, MacManus sat with a focus group of undecided voters in the ABC Action News studio. She said the group arrived needing more concrete details on each candidates’ plan for the economy and how they intend to bring in more jobs, but by the end of the night, their questions hadn’t been answered.
“While there was discussion of the out migration of jobs, there was no discussion by either of them on how to really bring the jobs back into the country,” MacManus said. “The missing part of tonight’s debate in the mind of undecided voters was ‘How are you going to do it?’ (There were) still a lot of generalities and for undecided (voters), not enough specifics in the end of the evening.”
MacManus said that only one thing really surprised her about the debate while the rest was just a rerun of the last few weeks.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the beginning that it looked like they were going to give the American public, particularly those who hadn’t made up their minds, a reason to vote for them rather than to not vote at all,” MacManus said. “And some undecided voters … questioned whether they would even vote at all, which is not what either candidate wants to come out of the debate.”