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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.

Welcome to Las Vegas: You're not in Farmville anymore

Presidential campaigns, which rumble around the country like traveling theater productions, provide a valuable and often fun reminder of the country's geographic diversity.

It would be hard to find a more vivid example of the contrast than the one between Farmville, Va., the tiny but historic town that hosted the vice presidential debate on Oct. 4, and Las Vegas, the glitzy spectacle of excess that will host Wednesday's third and final presidential faceoff.

Farmville has an understated antique mall on Main Street, a few furniture stores, charming old brick warehouses and a handful of restaurants that serve the town's two universities.

Farmville's rich but complicated history dates from the Civil War to the Civil Rights era.

Small pleasures, like the refurbishing of a vintage Coca-Cola sign before the big debate, still generate buzz. But even with a swarm of reporters in town for the debate, it was quiet. 

Then there's Las Vegas, where hotels just a few years old are dismissed as passe relics, ready for implosion.

The reporters wandering among them are hardly noticed among the crowds of conventioneers, partiers and exotic entertainers.

Even a fast-food breakfast can be eaten on a round couch, encased in a room-sized chandelier, and cost no less than $15.

The bookcases in the lobby of the Cosmopolitan, where Trump's traveling press is housed, are -- like almost everything else here -- a digitally produced mirage.

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