Presidential debate: 5 things to expect from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's third and final showdown

The third and final debate in Nevada could be the ugliest one yet

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 19 October 2016 14:09 BST
Ms Clinton and Mr Trump have one last shot to directly address each other and the voters
Ms Clinton and Mr Trump have one last shot to directly address each other and the voters (Reuters)

The third presidential debate before the 2016 election is tonight.

Following a slew of allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump, from more than 12 women and including former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, it has been more difficult for the Republican nominee to reassure voters that he has “never” touched a woman without her consent.

The topic of Mr Trump’s treatment of women is likely to be a recurring theme at the third debate, as well as the latest batch of Clinton campaign emails which showed her staff boosted friends’ requests up the chain of command when it came to the lucrative “gold rush” for government contracts in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Mr Trump insisted he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Ms Clinton as she “should be in jail”.

The debate tonight in Las Vegas will be the candidates’ final chance to address each other directly and make a plea in front of millions of viewers. Audience figures for the first debate on 26 September hit 100 million.

In the front row viewers may spot Malik Obama, the half-brother of president Barack Obama, who is an outspoken Trump supporter.

In the second debate, Mr Trump had invited three women - Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey - who accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting them to sit in the front row.

Over the 90-minute debate, starting at 9pm ET at the University of Nevada, both camps are likely to throw pointed barbs, interrupt each other and swing insults, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.

Here are five things to look out for tonight:

“Whining” about a “rigged” election

President Barack Obama said that Mr Trump should stop “whining” that the election is rigged in Ms Clinton’s favour and make his case to voters.

Electrion fraud is not a new theme - Mr Trump has long evoked Bernie Sanders, who made similar claims before he quit the race in July and endorsed Ms Clinton. But Mr Trump’s insisting the system is set up against him has gathered fuel as he has lost support in the polls.

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren said at a rally in Denver that she agreed the election was “rigged” - in favour of the “Donald Trumps and the billionaires of the world”.

Trump Slams 'Rigged' Delegate System

Meeting and greeting

Ms Clinton and Mr Trump’s behaviour towards each other is always under close scrutiny.

At the second debate, the candidates did not shake hands before the session, but shook hands afterwards. Her daughter, Chelsea, chose not to shake hands with her mother’s opponent’s family. Bill Clinton, however, may have taken the Trump family by surprise when he smiled at and shook hands with the children and Melania Trump.

Donald Trump holds pre-debate press conference with Bill Clinton sexual abuse accusers

Mr Trump’s treatment of women

The subject seems unavoidable at this point, as the raft of allegations against him continue to gain weight in terms of both the number of accusations and the impact it is having among voters. Mr Trump has denied all of the allegations and is likely to continue to do so.

He said at a recent rally that the women were “sick” and he did not know most of his accusers. His wife, Melania Trump, told CNN that the media and Clinton supporters were conspiring to invent negative stories about her husband.

Look out also for where Mr Trump stands and sits during the debate - will he continue to loom over Ms Clinton while she talks?

Trump stalks Clinton in SNL sketch

Ms Clinton’s emails

The investigation over Ms Clinton’s misuse of her personal email server during her tenure as secretary of state is now closed and Ms Clinton has been cleared of any criminal charges.

But the controversy still resonates among many voters, prompting them to think of the Democrat as untrustworthy.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace is also likely to mention the scandal in some way, highlighting favours for friends, foreign donors to the Clinton foundation and the exposed attempt to smear Bernie Sanders when he was still in the race.

Second Presidential Debate in 90 Seconds

More compliments?

The final question at the second debate - did the candidates have anything nice to say about each other? - took everyone by surprise and caused Ms Clinton to laugh heartily. She praised her rival’s children while Mr Trump said that Ms Clinton was a “fighter” and “didn’t quit”.

Who knows if they will sweep aside the insults at the final debate and perhaps even wish each other all the best.

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