What we learned from the third and final presidential debate

The final presidential debate on Oct. 19 focused less on mudslinging and more on clarification of platform. Although there was no shortage of bluster and sidestepping, each candidate was more or less corralled into confirming or denying their respective presidential plans.


The only judicial reversal Secretary Clinton supported was a reversal of Citizens United vs. FEC, a ruling that allows corporations to donate an unlimited amount of money to political campaigns.

Secretary Clinton made it a point to explain that she supports the Second Amendment, but she wants reasonable regulations in place — including comprehensive background checks and the closing of gun show and online loopholes. The naming of these loopholes is a common misnomer, however. There are not loopholes at gun shows and online; there are loopholes for unlicensed individuals who may sell at gun shows and on the Internet. Secretary Clinton wants to require all those dealing in firearms to be licensed — and all licensed firearm dealers must conduct background checks.

Secretary Clinton also expressed support for Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood, and said the government has no place in family planning, be it forcing women to have abortions (as they have done in China), or forcing women to carry to term (as they have done in Romania).

Donald Trump reminded the nation of the 20 Supreme Court justices he has suggested for appointment, and he promised they would be pro-life, conservative scholars. He mentioned that if his nominated justices were to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the issue of abortion would go back to the states.


Trump confirmed he still wants to build a wall on the southern border of the country, and he does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants. He did express support for speeding up the legal path to citizenship for those waiting to come into the country.

Secretary Clinton tried to clear up what she characterized as a misunderstanding of her stance on immigration. She said she does believe in strong borders, has voted for the building of a wall in certain sections of the country, and she, like Trump, wants to quickly ship out violent illegal immigrants. She believes in a path to citizenship for immigrants who are already here and mentioned she has a comprehensive immigration reform bill ready to be passed within the first 100 days she is in office.


Secretary Clinton has a lot of plans for the economic future of the nation. Clinton said she wants to invest in jobs programs, particularly small businesses and clean energy jobs. She also said she wants to increase the minimum wage, ensure equal pay for women, increase high school and college apprenticeships and make a college education tuition free for families that make less than $250,000 a year. She said she would accomplish this not by raising taxes for the middle class but by making sure corporations and the wealthy one percent pay their fair share. She promised to create the new position of trade prosecutor to enforce future trade deals. She insisted that her economic plan would not add a penny to the national debt and would grow the economy “from the middle out.” She wants to enhance entitlement benefits by replenishing Social Security and Medicare trusts through tax increases on the wealthy. She also expressed interest in low-cost health care drivers. These can include such things as nutritional education and in elementary schools.

Trump wants to re-negotiate trade deals, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also wants to cut taxes in general, specifically business taxes, as well as repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.


With Iraqi forces trying to recapture the ISIS-held city of Mosul, moderator Chris Wallace asked both candidates if they would support putting American troops back in the country. Secretary Clinton said no — troops on the ground in Iraq would not be in America’s best interest, and it would only motivate ISIS to re-establish itself. Clinton called for an intelligence surge instead, which would go after ISIS from the air and online. She also said she wants to restrict ISIS-inspired domestic attacks by preventing terror suspects from buying weapons.

As far as Syria is concerned, Secretary Clinton said she supports a no fly zone to allow a safe haven for Syrian civilians. Wallace reminded her that both President Obama and General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had major concerns with this plan, insisting that it mired the nation too deeply in Syrian issues and would put us at odds with the Syrian and Russian governments if they violated the order. Clinton assured him that the deal would be highly negotiated.

Trump did not state any plans in regard to Iraq or Syria.