Without hand shakes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in the third and final presidential debate Wednesday at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The last debate was Trump's best debate, and other things we learned

He made the case for change and talked about trade and the economy. He forced Clinton to squirm a bit as she tried to defend perceived conflicts of interest involving the Clinton Foundation.

But Trump also ensured that one of the most talked-about moments would be his refusal to agree to abide the election results, an issue that could keep many voters from moving to his corner.

Trump’s refusal to say he would accept the election result is different from the 2000 Bush vs. Gore recount

 (Pat Benic / Associated Press)
(Pat Benic / Associated Press)

The headline of Wednesday night’s debate was when Donald Trump refused to say he would accept the election’s outcome. Critics of the GOP nominee, including members of his own party, said it was further evidence Trump was upending a bedrock of American democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.

But Trump’s supporters hit back, pointing to the recount in the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Trump’s words are markedly different from what took place 16 years ago.

As polls have increasingly turned against Trump, he has stepped up claims that the election is “rigged,” which critics argue is laying the groundwork for contesting the election. Gore never questioned the election results before the voting concluded.

On election night in 2000, the television networks called Florida for Bush, ostensibly giving him the electoral votes to win the White House. Gore called Bush to concede, but when the networks realized Florida was too close to call, they rescinded Bush's win there.

Gore took back his concession. Florida state law mandated a recount because of how close the vote was.

Gore sought hand recounts in a handful of counties; Bush sued to stop them. Pictures of elections officials scrutinizing paper ballots filled the airwaves, and a legal battle ensued.

Ultimately, Bush took the matter to the Supreme Court, which stopped the recount. Gore said he disagreed with the decision but conceded the race.

Here’s a recounting by veteran Associated Press reporter Jim Kuhnhenn.

Republican strategists who worked for Bush, albeit critical of Trump, back up this account.

Fact checks

About that Pew report Trump uses to suggest voter fraud

 (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

When questioning the integrity of the election and suggesting he might not accept the result come Nov. 9, Donald Trump claimed widespread voter fraud. 

close look at the transcript finds the Republican nominee specifically putting that figure on Pew. 

"If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote -- millions, this isn't coming from me -- this is coming from Pew report and other places -- millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn't be registered to vote," he said.

Over the last several weeks, Trump has been referencing this 2012 Pew report to back up his claims the election could be "rigged" thanks to those "millions" registered to vote who shouldn't be.

It's titled "Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade."

Page one of the 12-page report has several bullet points: 

  • Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.
  • More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.
  • Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state. examined the report and found Trump has been citing it inaccurately on the campaign trail. 

"The report did not allege the 1.8 million deceased people actually voted. Rather, Pew said that it is evidence of the need to upgrade voter registration systems," the organization wrote.

One thing that didn't come up during the debate is something we wrote about this week: GOP officials oversee voting in most of the states

Here's our own fact-check about voter fraud.

Clinton: Trump is blaming the system again by refusing to say he'll accept election results

Hillary Clinton, looking confident after her performance in the final presidential debate, seized early Thursday on Donald Trump’s suggestions that he may not accept the outcome of the election.

“It was horrifying what he said on the debate stage tonight,” Clinton told journalists traveling on her campaign plane. "Our country has been around for 240 years, and ... one of our hallmarks has always been we accept the outcome of our elections.”

Trump demurred when asked during Wednesday's debate whether he would accept the results of the vote. 

“What he said tonight is part of his whole effort to blame somebody else for his campaign,” Clinton said. “As I said, when he is losing, he blames the system — whatever the system, whether it is being in court over Trump University or losing the Iowa caucus and Wisconsin primary and losing Emmys, for goodness' sake. He says it is rigged against him.”

Clinton also took aim at Trump’s hesitance to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for his government's suspected involvement in the hacking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email.

Trump initially said he is not convinced that evidence has proved Russia was involved. Pressed on the matter, Trump said he would condemn such involvement if it were proved.

“I was very concerned that even now, after 17 intelligence agencies in our government, both military and civilian, have confirmed that Russia has engaged in cyber attacks against Americans, that he refused to admit that it's true and condemn it for what it is — which is a blatant effort to try to interfere in our election,” Clinton said.

Asked how she felt about Trump calling her a “nasty woman”, Clinton said she brushed it off.

“I just didn’t pay any attention to that,” she said.

Clinton began her exchange with reporters with a sarcastic remark about naps — a reference to Trump’s claim that she had spent the run-up to the presidential debates resting rather than preparing.

“We have finished our last debate,” Clinton said. “I am feeling both relieved and very grateful. ... No more debates. No more naps.”

Trump will accept the results of the election because he'll win, campaign manager says after the debate

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

After spending the last few weeks claiming without evidence that the November election will be "rigged" in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was asked directly by Fox News anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace if he would concede should he lose to Clinton.

"I will look at it at the time," Trump said. When pressed moments later, Trump added simply: "What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense."

Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, at first responded to questions about the comment by saying he "would accept the results because he'll win the election."

"So, you know, absent widespread fraud and irregularities, then, we'll see," Conway said. "What he's saying is we have to see what happens."

The Republican National Committee will accept the results of the general election even if Donald Trump doesn't, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer. He says, "We're going to respect the will of the people."

Spicer addressed Trump's explosive comment after the debate. He said it likely won't be an issue because Trump will win.

When pressed, Spicer said, "I cannot speak for what he thinks."

For his part, Trump tweeted that he was proud of his performance, but didn't show up in the spin room or make a statement after the debate. He's on his way to Ohio.

Hillary Clinton after the debate: 'We are a better country than Donald Trump is'

After the debate, Hillary Clinton made a beeline for a campaign event in North Las Vegas, her motorcade taking her past the Las Vegas Strip to a park where more than 5,000 supporters had been watching her spar with Donald Trump on a massive screen in an open-air amphitheater.

“We are a better country than Donald Trump is,” Clinton said after taking the stage with her husband.

Clinton was introduced in Spanish by Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez, and she urged the largely Latino crowd to help her defeat Trump.

She repeated one of her attack lines from the debate, mentioning that half of immigrants who are in the country illegally pay federal income taxes.

"You know what that means? That means you pay more to support this country than Donald Trump pays. You are supporting our military, and our veterans, and our roads, and our healthcare, and our education. And I want to say thank you. Thank you for your hard work."

Bill Clinton joined his wife onstage, and they put their arms around each other.

"I want you to know that our family will support your family,” Hillary Clinton said.

Fact checks

Questions of conflicts aside, Hillary Clinton says she's proud of Clinton Foundation

Hillary Clinton defended the work of the Clinton Foundation during Wednesday’s debate, brushing aside questions about conflicts and criticisms from Donald Trump.

The sprawling foundation, which works on challenges in the developing world and in the U.S.,  has drawn criticism for accepting gifts from foreign countries and businesses with international interests while Clinton served as secretary of State.

“Everything I did as secretary of State was in furtherance of our country’s interests and values,” Clinton said, saying there is “no evidence” of special handling for donors, but “a lot of evidence of the good work” done by the organization.

Trump took the opening to slam the foundation for accepting money from Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia.

“These are people who push gays off buildings; these are people who kill women and treat women horribly,” Trump said, calling on Clinton to give money back. He also criticized the foundation for its mixed record in Haiti, saying he got an earful about that during a tour of Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood.

“Let me tell you, they hate the Clintons because of what happened in Haiti,” he said.

Clinton said she would be happy to match her foundation with Trump’s, which she noted used some of its funds to buy a portrait of Trump, and is under investigation for improperly raising money.

The Clinton Foundation was created in 1997, while Bill Clinton was still in office, to build the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, Ark. 

Since then, it has grown into a worldwide health and development organization, with a range of interests and projects as diverse as planting trees and promoting healthy school lunches.

Among its goals, the foundation seeks to promote worldwide economic growth, increase opportunities for women and girls, fight childhood obesity and ameliorate the effects of climate change. 

The foundation has raised about $2 billion from wealthy individuals, corporations and foreign governments. Its efforts, including disaster relief and providing low-cost medicines, have helped save millions of lives.

Despite assertions to the contrary, the foundation is not a money-making enterprise for the Clinton family. The former president, his wife and their daughter, Chelsea, receive no salary from the foundation, which spends 80% to 90% of its expenditures on charitable programs.

Much of the controversy surrounds the foundation's fundraising and allegations that donors — including foreign governments that gave millions — traded contributions for access to Clinton when she was secretary of State during President Obama's first term.

To address those concerns, the foundation had signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2008 with Obama's transition team promising to publicly report its donors, though not specifying how much they have given. 

Hillary Clinton also signed a separate ethics agreement with the State Department.

The Clintons, however, rejected suggestions at the time they ban all foreign donations to, at the least, avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. And emails showed they did did not always keep operations as separate from State Department affairs as they had promised.

Hillary Clinton met with some of the foundation's donors and others in the Clintons' orbit reached out to the secretary of State seeking opportunities for some givers.

There has been no evidence, however, of any explicit quid pro quo.

Bill Clinton has said he will cut ties to the foundation if his wife wins in November. The foundation also announced that if Hillary Clinton wins it will stop taking new contributions from foreign and corporate donors.

Fact checks

What are Trump and Clinton's plans to stabilize Social Security? It's not clear

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both sidestepped a question in Wednesday’s debate about how to stabilize Social Security to avert benefit cuts as funding dwindles in the decades ahead.

Both have vowed to oppose benefit cuts. But as moderator Chris Wallace pointed out, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan fiscal monitor, has concluded that neither candidate has a viable plan to shore up Social Security.

Wallace asked whether either of them would accept a “grand bargain” of tax hikes and benefit cuts to sustain Social Security and Medicare.

“I’m cutting taxes,” Trump answered. “We’re going to grow the economy. It’s going to grow at a record rate.”

Clinton vowed to use tax hikes on the wealthy to bolster Social Security and “enhance benefits for low-income workers and women who have been disadvantaged” by the current system.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget analyzed both candidates’ fiscal plans and found that Clinton would increase the national debt by $200 billion over a decade and Trump’s would increase it by $5.3 trillion.


Final debate scorecard: Hillary Clinton won. Again.

This may have been a relatively more sedate debate, but our judges still say — as with the last two debates — that Clinton emerged victorious. Here's a review of every round:

Fact checks

Donald Trump is right: The U.S. did pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash

Yes. Donald Trump is right on this one.  

The Obama administration allowed $1.7 billion in cash to go to Iran earlier this year.  The money, however, was a settlement of a decades-old legal claim between the two countries. An initial payment of $400 million was handed over on Jan. 17, the same day Iran’s government agreed to release four American prisoners.

Obama administration officials had initially denied the two transactions were linked. But later, officials acknowledged the U.S. had withheld the cash to pressure Iran to move forward with the releases and guarantee the Americans were allowed to leave Iran.

The remaining $1.3 million, apparently interest on Iranian cash held in the U.S. since the 1970s,was handed over in two later payments in January and February.


Debate scorecard: Judges give the last round to Hillary Clinton, but say it was close

Judge David Lauter says, "Most of this round wasn’t bad for Trump. But saying that he disagreed with Ronald Reagan is only going to worsen the problem he already has with Republican voters." More of their thoughts on this tight round.

Watch it again: Clinton and Trump's final presidential debate

Fact checks

Donald Trump offers graphic description of later-term abortion, but such procedures are extremely rare

Using graphic terms, Donald Trump during Wednesday night's debate described one of the most controversial, and exceedingly rare, abortion procedures: those that happen at the very end of pregnancies.

Trump said these terminations involve "rip[ping] the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby."

He is most likely referring to the procedure known as "intact dilation and extraction," which is sometimes called partial-birth abortion. This procedure, which is used for abortions in the third term of pregnancy as well as later-term miscarriages, involves dilating the woman's cervix and pulling the entire fetus through the birth canal.

The procedure became a hot political topic during George W. Bush's presidency, when Congress passed a bill banning "partial-birth abortions," except for when the woman's life is in danger. The Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2007.

Forty-three states impose certain restrictions on some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy.

Only 1.3% of abortions performed in the United States occur after the 21st week of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think thank that supports abortion rights. The vast majority — 91% of abortions performed in 2012 — occur in the first 13 weeks.

Although Trump has asserted his antiabortion beliefs in this campaign, he used to be in favor of abortion rights. When asked in 1999 by Tim Russert about the procedure, he said he was "pro-choice in every respect" and would not ban partial-birth abortions.

Trump and Clinton clash over border security and U.S.-Mexico relations

 (Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press)
(Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sparred in Wednesday’s debate over Trump's plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump accused Clinton of favoring “open borders” and not having a plan to stop migrants and drug smugglers from illegally crossing into the country, while at the same time assailing her of voting for building a border wall when she was a senator.

Clinton countered by pointing out that when Trump met in private with Mexico’s president in August, he didn’t bring up his plan to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. 

“He went to Mexico, he had a meeting with the Mexican president. Didn't even raise it,” Clinton said. “He choked.”

Trump calls Clinton 'such a nasty woman'

People will be talking about that one.

While describing her plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund Social Security, Hillary Clinton took a jab at Donald Trump for allegedly trying to get out of paying taxes.

"My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald's — if he can't figure out how to get out of it," she said.

Trump interrupted to say, "Such a nasty woman." Clinton didn't appear to respond, but Twitter users were angered.

Fact checks

Donald Trump declines to say he'd accept the results of the election, even though voter fraud is rare

Donald Trump doubled down on his allegations of a “rigged election” on Wednesday, declining in a major breach of democratic protocol to say he’d accept the results of the election.

His reasoning included an implication of widespread voter fraud, asserting there are “millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.”

But Trump is vastly overstating how common voter fraud is, according to election experts.

Top dictionary searches during the final presidential debate: Big, hombre, ombre, amnesty, espionage, umbre

It's spelled "hombre." It means man in Spanish. And the city in Syria is Aleppo, not "a lepo."

Donald Trump's line on immigration — "We have some bad hombres here and we're going to get them out" — led to a flurry of searches over at Merriam-Webster, a dictionary company. Here's a list of the dictionary's top search terms from the first and second halves of the debate, from Merriam-Webster lexicographer Peter Sokolowski.


Debate scorecard: Clinton hits on Trump's weak spot — foreign policy — and wins the fifth round

Our judges agree that Trump's foreign policy knowledge is shaky at best, and it showed in this round

Fact checks

Donald Trump has stumbled while trying to capitalize on WikiLeaks

Hillary Clinton challenged Donald Trump in their final presidential debate to condemn Russian email hacking that she alleges is aimed at influencing the election. He declined.

Trump flatly rejected the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government was responsible for infiltrating Democratic Party emails, a major headache for Clinton in the campaign’s closing weeks.

“Hillary, you have no idea” whether Russia is responsible for the hacking, Trump said, adding that the U.S. also has no idea about it. “I doubt it,” he said.

Fact checks

Trump said sex assault allegations had been 'debunked,' but that's not really true

Donald Trump, asked in the debate on Wednesday about the multiple women who have accused him in the last week of unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate touching, dismissed such allegations as “all fiction” and said their stories had “largely been debunked.”

While the Trump campaign has offered some rebuttals to a few of the charges, the allegations — some of which center around events that occurred decades ago — have hardly been settled.

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