While he arguably fared better by early on sticking to real debating and employing a modicum of reason, the end result was another win for Clinton, the first time in U.S. presidential debate history one candidate has clearly won every debate. Were it not for three moments, however, Trump may have come close to pulling off a tie.
Trump: “Bad hombres”
One of those moments was when Trump spoke of illegal immigrants bringing in drugs and selling them to young Americans. Instead of saying he’d deport them, as Clinton said she would do, he said he would get rid of those “bad hombres.”
‘Hombres’ suggests Hispanics and it appears to have offended Hispanic Americans, and other Americans. Hispanics are a demographic Trump badly needs to gain support from and his remark has driven Hispanics away from voting for him. Almost immediately #BadHombres began trending on Twitter.
Trump: “Nasty woman”
A second gaffe came when he interrupted Clinton to call her a “nasty woman.” She was criticizing him on his failure to pay income tax for 18 years and got his dander up. He leaned toward the mic and in a voice just shy of creepy he called her “such a nasty woman.”
This pointedly rude, indeed rather nasty, interjection is not likely to impress many female voters in particular. Women are another demographic he badly needs and his remark, despite his insistence “nobody respects women more” than he does, is likely to lose, not gain, female supporters.
Trump: election rigged
Finally, Trump was asked about accepting the outcome of the election. Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News noted Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said earlier in the day he and Trump would “absolutely” accept the outcome of the election.
During the debate, Trump contradicted his other half of the ticket by saying that he believes the election may be rigged. He said he’d wait until it was over before deciding if he’ll accept the results and told Wallace he would leave everyone “in suspense.” Many Americans believe such comments undermine faith in the republic and in the fairness of the election apparatus.
His remarks were highlighted by Clinton, who noted Trump has historically called into question any results in which he’s lost, giving a host of examples including his complaining about not winning an Emmy for ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ Trump quickly interrupted to say that he should have won the TV award.
Those moments may have been among the low points of Donald Trump’s collective performance in all the debates. Thanks to these gaffes it is harder to imagine him gaining ground on Clinton in the election — and easier to see her becoming the 45th president of the United States.
Clinton currently leads the polls by her widest margin yet, with some putting her lead at double digits. The effect of this debate on polls won’t be known for another two days or so.