In the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday night Donald Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the presidential election.
In doing so, he broke not only with tradition but also with his running mate, advisers, and many prominent Republicans, said the Boston Globe.
The Republican nominee’s refusal to commit to recognizing the outcome raised the prospect of continued political conflict after the poll on 8 November, said the Globe: "if he indeed loses to Hillary Clinton, as polls suggest is growing ever more likely with three weeks remaining in the contest."
Trump has repeatedly said in recent days, citing no credible evidence, that the election is rigged against him.
“I will look at the result at the time,” he said on Wednesday night. “What I’ve seen is so bad. The media is so dishonest and so corrupt... They poison the minds of the voters.”
Moderator Chris Wallace reminded him there was a tradition of peaceful transition of power in which a loser concedes, and asked if he was unwilling to uphold that tradition. Trump said: “I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense.”
“That’s horrifying,” Clinton said.
“When you’re whining before the game is even finished, you’re not up for the job,” “I, for one, am appalled that the nominee for one of our two major parties would take that position.”
This last debate with Clinton featured a bitter battle over allegations that he groped women, questions about the candidates’ dealings at their private foundations, and the negative tenor of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump accused Clinton of instigating what he called false allegations from 10 women who say he kissed and touched them against their will. He said the accusations were “possibly, probably started by her and her sleazy campaign.’’
The candidates didn’t shake hands before or after the debate, a customary tradition .
“Such a nasty woman,” Trump said into his microphone in the final minutes of the debate.
As the evening wore on, Trump's tone grew more agitated, as Clinton’s salvos appeared to get under his skin, said the Globe He rolled his eyes, grimaced, and shook his head, shouting “Wrong!” several times into his microphone.
Trump attacked Clinton for the operations of the Clinton Foundation, which he said was a criminal enterprise engaged in influence peddling at the State Department. He called her a “liar’’ who has “lied hundreds of times.’’
Clinton stayed on the attack, portraying Trump as painting a “dark’’ vision for America in his campaign and accusing him of “whining’’ that the 2016 election is being rigged against him.
In an exchange about WikiLeaks’ release of hacked e-mails that have portrayed Clinton’s campaign in unflattering ways, she accused Trump of being a “puppet’’ for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“No puppet. No puppet,” Trump said. “You’re the puppet.”
The third debate, like the two that preceded it, was marked by questions of Trump’s treatment of women.
Trump, asked for the first time about the 10 women who have come forward to say they’ve been groped by him, dismissed the allegations as “fiction.”
“Those stories have been largely disputed,” Trump said. “Those people, I don’t know those people.”
He added: “I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is right here because I didn’t do any of these things.”
Clinton, speaking slowly and clearly, recited quotes from Trump from the past few days, reminding him that he suggested one of the women wasn’t attractive enough for him to grope.
“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger,” Clinton said. “He goes after their dignity, their self worth. I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like.”
Trump interrupted at one point, saying “nobody has more respect” for women than he did.
That caused outcries in the audience.
“Please, everybody!” Wallace said, trying to restore order in the room.
One of their most pointed exchanges came about the role Russians have allegedly played in the American election, with hacked Clinton campaign e-mails released through WikiLeaks, and with Trump’s praise of President Vladimir Putin.
“Will Donald Trump admit and condemn that the Russians are doing this and make it clear that he will not have the help of Putin in this election — that he rejects the help of Russian espionage?” Clinton asked.
“I don’t know Putin,” Trump responded. “He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good.”
Clinton contrasted what she was doing in each decade with some of the things that Trump was doing at the same time.
“On the day I was in the [White House situation] room monitoring the raid that captured Osama bin Laden, he was hosting the ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ ” she said.
CNN said Clinton won the debate by a substantial margin.