With America exactly three weeks from Election Day, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are hitting Las Vegas for a high-stakes debate that could make or break their chances of winning the White House.
The third – and last – presidential debate of the election season will be held Wednesday evening at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. The event begins at 9 p.m. Eastern and will be livestreamed at WND. Chris Wallace of Fox News will moderate.
Debate topics include debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and Hillary and Trump’s fitness for the presidency, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates. The candidates will address the topics during six 15-minute time segments.
As his guest, Trump is bringing Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe; President Barack Obama’s Kenyan-born half-brother, Malik; and Patricia Smith, mother of Benghazi victim Sean Smith. Hillary will be bringing well-known billionaires Meg Whitman and Mark Cuban to the event.
Going into the final debate, RealClearPolitics’ poll average showed Hillary leading Trump by seven points, 48.9 percent to 41.9 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll showed Hillary leading in three swing states – Colorado (45 to 37 percent), Florida (48 to 44 percent) and Pennsylvania (47 to 41 percent) – and tied with Trump in the swing state of Ohio (45 percent).
Another poll released Monday by Lake Research Group showed Trump and Clinton locked in a close race in Alaska, a state traditionally considered Republican territory.
If Trump delivers another strong performance in this debate, the GOP nominee could see a much-needed boost in his poll numbers in the wake of an onslaught of mainstream media reports accusing him of making unwanted sexual advances toward women decades ago.
Meanwhile, many of those news organizations have devoted minimal or no coverage to explosive revelations contained in a new FBI report on her email scandal, a series of Hillary secret speech transcripts and emails released by WikiLeaks and two new undercover videos of a Democrat operative bragging that his party has been rigging elections “for 50 years” and admitting that his agents and cohorts are intentionally “starting anarchy” by creating “conflict engagement … in the lines at Trump rallies.”
Related column: “A knockout strategy for Trump in Round 3,” by Joseph Farah
‘Shadow Government’ and FBI ‘quid pro quo’
On Monday, the FBI released 100 pages of documents concerning Hillary’s Emailgate investigation. Interviews and notes revealed the Democratic Party nominee “blatantly” disregarded protocol. Other claims indicate some influential employees at the State Department sought to coordinate a document release, and official requested a “quid pro quo” related to Hillary’s emails. One unidentified source told the FBI that Freedom of Information Act requests concerning Hillary were first reviewed by a group called “the Shadow Government.”
“There was a very powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials that some referred to as ‘The 7th Floor Group’ or ‘The Shadow Government.’ This group met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss the FOIA process, Congressional records, and everything CLINTON-related to FOIA/Congressional inquiries,” the FBI summary stated. “The Shadow Government” wanted the emails to be released all at once “for coordination purposes,” but the FBI chose instead to release the emails on a rolling basis.
Another revelation in the FBI documents included a claim that Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy contacted the FBI to request a change in classification of the emails in “exchange for a ‘quid pro quo.'”
Fox News reported the notes from the FBI interview reveal “Kennedy tried to horse-trade with the FBI, offering additional slots for the bureau overseas if they would de-classify a particular email marked ‘SECRET.’ According to the documents, an unnamed individual said he was ‘pressured’ to ‘change the classified email to unclassified.'”
A State Department spokesman denied that allegation Monday.
Clinton and WikiLeaks revelations
WikiLeaks has released at least 15,000 Hillary campaign emails revealing anti-Catholic sentiment, collusion with journalists on media coverage and strategies to court black voters and billionaire donors. The hacktivist group also published many of Hillary’s secret transcripts of speeches she made to Goldman Sachs.
In one $225,000 speech made to the National Multi-Housing Council in 2013, Hillary explained, “Politics is like sausage being made. It’s unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching … then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”
In yet another $225,000 speech to Brazilian Banco Itau in New York City in 2013, Hillary said, “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”
Shortly after WikiLeaks published the transcripts of speeches to Goldman Sachs, news came that WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the embassy in West London since 2012 over Swedish rape charges, had his Internet access cut off by a “state party.”
WikiLeaks tweeted Monday: “We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange’s internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speech[e]s.”
The group says it has “activated the appropriate contingency plans.” Assange has vowed to release documents “every week” until Election Day on Nov. 8.
Earlier this month, allegations surfaced claiming Hillary once suggested silencing Assange by executing him with a planned drone strike in 2010, when Hillary was secretary of state.
WikiLeaks retweeted a report by the True Pundit blog indicating Hillary, during a State Department meeting, had asked, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”
Sexual allegations against Trump
At least nine women have claimed Trump made unwanted sexual advances ranging from groping and kisses to walking in on beauty pageant contestants while they changed. Most of the allegations involve purported incidents going back at least a decade. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations and noted that no witnesses have come forward to substantiate the claims. On Oct. 15, he tweeted: “100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he believes Trump and questions the story of one woman, Jessica Leeds, who claims Trump groped her on a flight in the early 1980s.
“Some of these things appear to be on their face to be kind of untrue,” he said. “[Such as] 15 minutes of groping in first class on an airplane.”
A 54-year-old self-professed witness, Anthony Gilberthorpe, has challenged Leeds’ claims.
Debt and entitlements
The Congressional Budget Office recently issued a report revealing the $19.6 trillion national debt is expected to grow rapidly through 2026, with total budget deficits of $8.5 trillion during that period.
America’s national debt has more than tripled since 2000. And since Obama became president in 2009, it has soared by $9 trillion, or 85 percent. Just in the last fiscal year, it grew by $1.5 trillion.
Forbes contributor Andy Koenig reported, “These numbers may seem difficult to comprehend for many families struggling to pay their bills, but it’s those individuals who would be hurt the most if we keep letting the debt spiral out of control. In 2030, by the time current kindergarten students enter college, our debt is on track to reach 116% of GDP. By 2040, the percentage jumps to 151.
“That’s a rate matched by countries like Argentina and Greece. And we don’t have to speculate about the results that follow. In the early 2000s, Argentina’s debt-to-GDP level climbed to 166%. What followed was 41% inflation, 21% unemployment, and the majority of Argentines living below the poverty line.
“Greece hasn’t fared much better. When Greece’s debt-to-GDP level rose, it nearly cratered the entire European economy. In Greece alone, unemployment rose to 26.3% and even 52% of those working part-time were still living in ‘absolute poverty.’ Even during the Great Depression, U.S. unemployment never exceeded 25%.”
The debate may also include discussion of entitlements, including the solvency of Social Security and Obamacare.
On Monday came news that U.S. agents caught 39,501 illegal aliens entering the U.S. in September alone, a number that’s up 95 percent over last year, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection report. The report revealed 9,609 of the illegals were members of family units and 5,699 were “unaccompanied children.”
Trump’s staunch opposition to illegal immigration when he launched his campaign is the issue that vaulted him to the front of the pack in the GOP primaries. No one was more opposed to illegal immigration, and no policy proved more popular among Republican voters.
His plan has three basic components:
- Build a wall along the border with Mexico.
- End amnesty for illegal immigrants.
- Enforce the existing laws on illegal immigration.
This is Trump’s immigration plan outlined plan in great length on his campaign website, along with some excerpts of some of the details.
Clinton’s positions on illegal immigration are, in nearly every respect, the exact opposite of Trump’s.
She is against amnesty and against enforcing the immigration laws on the books, as evidenced by her support of Obama’s executive orders suspending and overruling those laws.
In June, she criticized Trump’s proposed pause on immigration from areas where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, saying, “What I won’t do, because I think it is dangerous for our efforts to defeat this threat, is to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.”
The U.S. economy has consistently ranked as the top issue for Americans this election. According to the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of registered voters have said the economy is “very important” to their vote in November. That’s likely because the economy is getting worse, with the country on track for a GDP growth of only one percent in 2016. According to the Wall Street Jounral, the anemic 1.2 percent growth rate in the second quarter of 2016 makes for an annual average rate of 2.1 percent growth since the end of the recession, making it the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.
Trump says his economic plan would create up to 25 million new jobs and a minimum of 3.5 percent growth over the next decade.
Trump says tax reform will stimulate the economy. He wants to “dramatically” reduce income taxes for everyone, simplify the tax code, give tax breaks for child care costs, end the estate tax, and cap business taxes at 15 percent. He wants to scale back regulations that hinder business growth, calling for a “temporary pause on new regulations and a review of previous regulations to see which need to be scrapped.” He wants to repeal the most burdensome regulations.
Trump wants to renegotiate trade deals he believes hurt the U.S. economy, such as NAFTA and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. He wants to boost domestic energy production to stimulate the economy, and save the domestic coal industry. He also believes the repeal of Obamacare will help American businesses.
Hillary takes more of a big-government approach to the economy. She wants to increase taxes by at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
She told the Daily News, “I would spend about $100 billion a year. And I think it’s affordable, and I think it’s a smart way to make investments … that will contribute to growing the economy.”
As for the energy industry, she is not exactly pro-growth. In March, she famously remarked, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
On her campaign website, Clinton’s five-point plan promises:
“Hillary will fight to pass a plan in her first 100 days in office to invest in infrastructure, manufacturing, research and technology, clean energy, and small businesses.
“Make debt free college available to all Americans. Hillary will make college debt-free, and she’ll provide relief for Americans with existing debt by allowing them to refinance their student loans.
“Rewrite the rules so that more companies share profits with employees—and fewer ship profits and jobs overseas. Hillary will reward companies that share profits and invest in their workers, and she will raise the minimum wage to a living wage.
“Make certain that corporations, the wealthy, and Wall Street pay their fair share. Hillary will pay for her economic priorities and avoid adding to the national debt by ensuring the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share.
“She will fight for equal pay and guarantee paid leave, two changes that are long overdue. And she will provide relief from the rising costs of necessities like child care and housing, while taking steps to provide Americans with greater retirement and health care security.”
Trump has released a list of possible nominees to the Supreme Court in an effort to convince voters he would put a judge on the bench in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
At issue is the growing progressive bent of the Supreme Court, with the expectation that Hillary, as president, would follow Obama’s lead in appointing justices like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
On the foreign policy front, the candidates may discuss Russia. Hillary has accused Trump of maintaining a cozy relationship with the Kremlin, but she has provided little evidence to back up her claim. The Obama administration has said it’s “confident” Russia is attempting to interfere in the presidential election, though Russia has denied the allegations.
The Obama administration is facing claims that it created a “vacuum” in Syria and its response to Russia’s intervention there has been “too light.”
Both Trump and Hillary have proposed the creation of safe zones in Syria, a plan that has been dismissed by some experts as being too complicated to work. If Russia continues its airstrikes, Trump VP Mike Pence has suggested the U.S. be prepared to use military force to hit military targets of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Hillary has proposed increasing air strikes against ISIS, targeting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and giving support to groups fighting the terror organization. She has also called for a no-fly zone in northern Syria.
Trump has indicated he would accelerate attacks on ISIS, but he also believes the U.S. will benefit from working with Russia to defeat the terror group. In an earlier presidential debate, Trump warned that the U.S. must “worry about ISIS” before pursuing further involvement in Syria.
Other foreign-policy topics may include the U.S. relationship with NATO and nuclear threats posed by North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Russia. North Korea recently conducted its fifth underground nuclear test.