Live Blog

Trump and Clinton Face Off in Third Presidential Debate

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Source: Bloomberg

Wednesday October 19, 2016
With just three weeks left before voting day, the two major-party candidates for U.S. president will face off in Las Vegas for the last of their three formal debates.

TOPLive will be there to cover the play-by-play and bring you real-time analysis of policy positions and economic impact. Join us starting at 8:50 pm New York time.
 (Photo credit: Rick Wilking - AFP/Getty Images)
Welcome to the TOPLive blog of the third and final presidential debate. I'm Steven T. Dennis, congressional reporter. We'll have play by play of the debate as it happens, plus analysis, market reaction (watch the peso!) and fact-checking.
Here's a list of the rest of today's contributors:
  • Sasha Issenberg, Politics Reporter
  • Jodi Schneider, TOP Editor
  • Rita Devlin, Social Media Monitor
  • Emma O'Brien, Global Markets Editor
  • Anny Kuo, TOP Editor
  • Caleb Solomon, TOP Editor
  • Colin Keatinge, TOPLive Editor
  • Foster Wong, TOPLive Editor
  • Romaine Bostick, TOP Editor
  • Tal Barak Harif, TOP Editor
Clinton has spent much of the past week ensconced in debate prep as Trump's freefall in the polls coincided with numerous women accusing him of inappropriate behavior. Her team has been playing defense as thousands of emails have been posted by Wikileaks, allegedly hacked from John Podesta's email account, including transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street banks including Goldman Sachs. Her campaign has refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents.
In recent days as his poll numbers have sank, Trump has attacked the U.S. election system itself as "rigged" without evidence, and lashed out at Republicans who have either abandoned ship — like John McCain - or have stopped defending him in public — like Speaker Paul Ryan.

Many congressional Republicans have shifted to survival mode, hoping to distance themselves from Trump and his troubles.

Though much of the poll data for Trump -- including today's Bloomberg poll -- shows him trailing Clinton, there are a few bright spots for him. Most notably, 65 percent of his supporters say they are very or fairly enthused about him while 58 percent of Clinton's supporters say the same of her.
“The race sure looks like it’s a solid Clinton win, but Trump has a few advantages in enthusiasm and support,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the Bloomberg Politics national poll.
Plenty of bad jokes and puns are being uttered about the final debate's location -- Las Vegas. Here are a few fun facts about the candidates and Nevada: 
  • Trump is the co-owner of a high-rise hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Yet he doesn't have any gaming interests in the state. 
  • Clinton has been running hard in Nevada -- where polls show that she's ahead of Trump, especially with women, where a CNN/ORC poll shows her up 15 percentage points with women and Trump ahead 10 points with men.
Tonight's debate format -- after a town-hall approach with undecided voters at the last debate -- returns to one where the 90 minutes will be divided into six topics. The subjects this time are “immigration, entitlements and debt, the Supreme Court, the economy, foreign policy, and each candidate’s fitness to serve as president.”
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Fox News -- which in recent months has been in the headlines over the ouster of its chairman Roger Ailes after sexual harassment allegations -- tonight will make news for a different reason: Chris Wallace, its Sunday anchor, will be the first Fox journalist to moderate a general-election presidential debate. Wallace is viewed as a tough interviewer who is expected to ask hard-edged questions of both candidates despite Fox commentators' conservative bent.
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Trump got a lot of attention at the last debate for inviting women who had accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct -- after holding a press conference with them. Tonight his guests are also likely to have people talking: he's invited Malik Obama, a Kenyan half-brother of President Barack Obama who is backing Trump, and Pat Smith, whose son died in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Viewers may be surprised to learn that in every one of Trump's 13 presidential debates to date -- remember the long primary debate season? -- he has been more positive than negative. Though he routinely portrays politicians as ''stupid,'' he has spent a lot of time talking about making America ''great'' again. Still, in the second debate with Clinton, 25 of every 1,000 of Trump's words were what's known as negative-emotion words, outpacing the first debate with Clinton and all but one primary debate.
Clinton, meanwhile, made strong use of ''we'' words in her Democratic convention speech, yet has been falling back on ''me'' language in the debates with Trump -- pronouns like ''I,'' ''my,'' and ''myself.'' The danger with ''me'' language is that she can appear defensive rather than making connections with voters via the ''we'' phraseology.
The Bloomberg Politics poll also gauged post-election mood. If Trump does become the nation’s next president, 59 percent of Clinton supporters said they’ll be panicked. Fewer than half of Trump’s supporters, 42 percent, said that of Clinton.
For Donald Trump, tonight's debate could be his last, best chance to change the momentum in a race that increasingly looks like a blowout win for Hillary Clinton.

But Trump hasn't shown any signs that he will change his off-the-cuff style, bragging about his lack of preparation for the debates and telling his flock that Clinton is preparing by napping.
Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg
Tonight Trump must:
  • Reverse his slide among women after the release of his vulgar remarks on the 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape, the flood of accusations of personal misconduct by women after he denied at the last debate that he groped women, and his subsequent implying that some of his accusers were too ugly to be groped or kissed.
  • Reassure voters that he is ready to be president. A large majority of Americans see him as unqualified.
  • Put Clinton on the defensive. Trump has already spent days attacking her over the Wikileaks emails and the alleged transcripts of her lucrative speeches to Wall Street. But if he has a better October Surprise to reveal, tonight might be the night to do it.
Hillary Clinton's job is arguably easier: Deflect whatever mud Trump slings her way and protect her lead.

Her increasingly confident campaign has been looking to expand the battleground map to states like Arizona, and has started to shift support to downballot Senate races key to her ability to govern should she win. That could mean less partisan red meat and more middle-of-the-road talk.
Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg
Tonight Clinton must:
  • Keep her cool under Trump's attacks and the presence of Pat Smith, a mother of one of the Benghazi victims, who blames Clinton for her son's death.
  • Keep poking Trump. He has been unable to resist endlessly defending himself against Clinton's attacks in the past, spending days fighting Clinton's dig at him in the first debate for fat-shaming then-Miss Universe Alicia Machado.
  • Be prepared for tough questioning from Fox News correspondent Chris Wallace.
  • Find a way to relate personally to the audience. Clinton's long acknowledged she is not as natural a politician as her husband, and Saturday Night Live has recently lampooned her efforts to appear more human. But polling shows she has high unfavorable ratings and most find her dishonest.
The Mexican peso has become the go-to asset for determining how the markets are viewing the debates. The currency has definitely benefited from the view that Clinton prevailed in the past two stoushes, strengthening more than 6 percent from an all-time low versus the greenback reached in the session before the first debate.

The peso has evolved into a gauge of investor anxiety over the election given Trump's pledges to renegotiate NAFTA, deport undocumented immigrants and potentially build a wall between the U.S. and its southern neighbor.

The audience in Las Vegas is -- as in past debates -- asked not to cheer or make any noise during the debate. That request was roundly ignored in the past two debates.
This is what I'll be watching in markets as the debate gets under way:

  • Mexico's peso - the currency has come alive during the past two debates, strengthening or holding gains on perceptions Clinton was victorious.
  • U.S. index futures - e-mini contracts on the S&P 500 Index edged higher during the past two stoushes with traders interpreting Clinton wins as a good sign for risk appetite.
  • Haven assets - If Trump is perceived as besting Clinton or dialing back his more contentious rhetoric, gold, the yen and U.S. Treasuries could advance.

More guest information on tonight's debate: Sarah Palin -- a former Republican VP nominee --is expected to attend as a guest of Donald Trump, according to a campaign aide.
Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg
CORRECT: And Clinton's guests tonight include Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, a longtime Republican fundraiser who is supporting Clinton, and billionaire Mark Cuban -- a nemesis of Trump.
Though Election Day -- on Nov. 8 -- is a little less than three weeks away, tonight's final debate is actually much closer to the time when many Americans will cast ballots. According to no less an authority than the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37 states and the District of Columbia have some form of early voting -- in which qualified voters can opt to cast ballots early without any reason needed.
Unlike last time, when the Mexican peso went into the second debate up more than 1 percent (this was right after the Trump tapes), the currency is currently little changed from where it closed at on Wednesday, though still near a six-week high:



According to data released by Facebook, the issues resonating on the social network ahead of the debate are:
 
1. Wikileaks Release
2. Government Ethics
3. Voting Integrity
4. Iraq, Syria & ISIS
5. Religion

Supreme Court appointments are one of the policy areas where Trump has been most specific as a candidate, having released a long list of candidates he says he could consider nominating.