What Donald Trump Didn’t Say in Debate Overshadows What He Did

Screen Shot 2016-10-20 at 7.33.48 AMMAGGIE HABERMAN

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Good Thursday morning.
Donald J. Trump needed a pitch-perfect performance in his final debate withHillary Clinton to even begin to close the growing gap in polls.
What took place in Las Vegas not only fell well short of that, it may also cause Mr. Trump lasting damage.
Instead of remembering the points at which he performed well, viewers will more likely focus on a different standout moment: his refusal to say that he would accept the results of the election if he were to lose. It was an unprecedented statement from a presidential nominee in a country with a 200-year tradition of peaceful transfers of power.
For the first 30 minutes, Mr. Trump was subdued and fluent in some of the most substantive policy exchanges of the general election. He sounded sure-footed on gun rights and on Supreme Court appointees. But Mrs. Clinton worked to get under Mr. Trump’s skin throughout the debate, using some of his favorite insults against him. She succeeded.
Mr. Trump refused, again, to criticize President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, or to accept that the Kremlin probably ordered the hackings of the email of dozens of people in the United States, as intelligence officials have said. Mr. Trump appeared lost when describing conditions in Aleppo, the war-torn city in Syria where tens of thousands of children are struggling for survival. And instead of letting Mrs. Clinton struggle during a question about pay-to-play allegations at the Clinton Foundation, he interrupted her and filibustered for several minutes.
Mr. Trump repeatedly interrupted Mrs. Clinton, at one point calling her “such a nasty woman.” That line is unlikely to help him improve his standing with women voters, with whom he faces a large gap. His promise to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision legalizing abortion, may not help either.
He also lapsed more than a few times into a version of the Saturday Night Live parody of his performance, cutting Mrs. Clinton off with, “Wrong” and, when she called him Mr. Putin’s puppet, replying, “You’re the puppet.”
But the major takeaway for the commentators on cable news, which Mr. Trump follows closely, was that he refused to say he’d abide by the results of the election. It was a remark from which several Republicans sought to distance themselves, but it may prove difficult for G.O.P. candidates down the ballot to ignore.

Josh Haner/The New York Times

At their third and last debate, Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton argued over immigration, guns, the Supreme Court and, especially, each other.

Hillary Clinton shook hands with the moderator, Chris Wallace, on Wednesday before the debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a gesture that was not repeated with Donald J. Trump.

Josh Haner/The New York Times

During the debate at the University of Nevada, Mrs. Clinton outmaneuvered Donald J. Trump with a surprising new approach: his.

Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton debating on Wednesday night at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. It was the final debate before the Nov. 8 election.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Mr. Trump showed more discipline than in the first two debates, but a few stumbles left him far short of the decisive victory he needed to shift voters’ perceptions.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump participate in the third presidential debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

After a debate that moved from policy talk to personal attacks, many commentators and critics said that Mrs. Clinton was the clear winner over Donald J. Trump.

Chris Wallace before the start of the debate, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was the first Fox News journalist chosen to moderate a general-election debate.

Chris Wallace, Mixing Humor With Scolding, Guides Final Debate


While Mr. Wallace maintained a genteel presence, he also issued some sharply phrased questions that were sure to irk those who were skeptical of his taking charge.

Fact Checks of the Third Presidential DebateReporters for The New York Times fact-checked the statements made by Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump during Wednesday’spresidential debate.

Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump at the debate.

Trump and Clinton’s Last Debate: AnalysisHere’s how we analyzed in real time the last presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump.

Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump on Wednesday at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas during the third presidential debate.

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Read everything that was said in the third presidential debate, on Wednesday, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptswire.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Google ‘Donald Trump Iraq,’ ” she said. “And you will see the dozens of sources which verify that he was for the invasion of Iraq.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign came up with dozens of potential slogans before settling on “Stronger Together.”

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Among the leaked emails of John D. Podesta is a message from August 2015, when the campaign was weighing prospective slogans. Some ring familiar.

Donald J. Trump in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. His foreign policy ideas are a vessel for reaching voters on a purely ideological level.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Scholars of American politics say Mr. Trump is using international issues as a medium to connect with voters’ gut-level fears and desires.

Security personnel hauled away an apparent protester at a Donald J. Trump campaign rally in Bridgeport, Conn., in April.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

The undercover video was the work of Project Veritas Action, which sends researchers around the country to spy on the inner workings of Democratic campaigns.

Awaiting the start of a campaign event for Donald J. Trump in Colorado Springs this week.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

The traditional red-state, blue-state map of the 2000-2012 era was driven in part by cultural issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Not this year.

Evan Bayh, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Indiana, leaving Light of the World Christian Church in Indianapolis after a service last month. He was on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce payroll as recently as June.

Fresh Off Employing Evan Bayh, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Attacks Him


The effort by the nation’s leading business lobby to defeat Mr. Bayh, considered a business-friendly centrist, in the Indiana Senate race has angered Democrats.

Michael Drewniak, center, the former press secretary to Gov. Chris Christie, was the first witness as lawyers for Bridget Anne Kelly began her defense.

Lawyer for Ex-Christie Aide Says Her Client Was Made a Scapegoat in the Bridge Plot


The lawyer for Bridget Anne Kelly argues she has been unfairly blamed in scheming that involved nearly everyone in the governor’s office.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a visit to Kazakhstan this month.

Russia Is Moving Ahead With Missile Program That Violates Treaty, U.S. Officials Say


Senior officials are expressing concern that Russia might be looking to produce an arsenal of cruise missiles in violation of the landmark treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces.

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

Chris Ashby, a Republican and an election lawyer, writes in Vox that “I believe in election fraud,” and has found some examples in his many investigations. “None of that, however, means our system of voting is rigged. It is not.”
The New Yorker details Bill Clinton’s role in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and his focus on reaching out to the white working-class men with whom Mr. Trump was faring so well.