Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tangled in Las Vegas on Wednesday night in the final presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle. The verbal sparring became contentious several times throughout the 90-minute event as the two engaged in personal attacks. But at the outset, the discourse between the two was mostly subdued and women’s issues were at the fore as the candidates answered moderator Chris Wallace’s first question about Supreme Court judicial appointees. Within their answers, Clinton and Trump addressed the nation’s abortion debate — in starkly different terms, with Trump painting an ominous picture of what could become of women’s reproductive rights under his administration.
‘I strongly support Roe v. Wade,” Clinton said, “which guarantees the Constitutional right to a woman to make the most intimate, the most difficult, in many cases, decisions about her health care one can imagine.”
Trump struck a vastly different chord when he was asked to forecast the future of Roe v. Wade, declaring, “I am pro-life.” He vowed to appoint pro-life justices and predicted that if “two, maybe three justices” who are pro-life make it to the Supreme Court bench, Roe v. Wade will be overturned “automatically.”
Wallace pressed Clinton on partial birth abortion and why she’s voted against proposed bills that would’ve banned late-term abortions. “I have met with women, who toward the end of their pregnancy, get the worst news one could get — that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term,” Clinton said. “I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”
When Wallace turned to Trump, the Republican nominee spoke in graphic terms. “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth,” Trump said. “It’s not OK with me.”
Clinton slammed Trump for the remark, saying, “Using that kind of scare rhetoric is just unfortunate.” Watch a clip of the exchange below.
After the discussion of Roe v. Wade, the next major topic that came up was about midway through the debate when Wallace questioned Trump about the allegations of sexual misconduct women have made against him since the emergence of a 2005 hot mic caught him speaking candidly and vulgarly about women. Trump literally dodged Wallace’s questions saying the accusations were “fiction” possibly fabricated by the Clinton campaign that he didn’t want to talk about it. Then, he resorted to one of his stock lines: “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.” The remark prompted a burst of laughter from the audience, causing Wallace to admonish them to quiet down. Watch a highlight of the moment below.
Near the very end, Trump, who had interrupted Clinton less frequently than he did in the first two debates, interjected while Clinton was criticizing his economic policy in response to a question about how to handle the declining U.S. Social Security system. Trump, seemingly unable to stop himself, said, “Such a nasty woman.”
Nineteen days from now, Americans will go to the polls to choose the nation’s next president. If you missed the debate, click here to watch it in its entirety.