Republican candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested he might reject the outcome of the November 8 U.S. presidential election if he loses, a possibility his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton called "horrifying."
In their third and final presidential debate, Trump said he would wait to decide whether the outcome was legitimate.
"I will tell you at the time, I will keep you in suspense," Trump said.
Clinton said she was "appalled" by Trump's stance.
"Let's be clear about what he is saying and what that means: He is denigrating, he is talking down our democracy and I for one am appalled that someone who is the nominee for one of our two major parties would take that position," she said.
She said Trump, a former reality TV star, had in the past also complained that his show was unjustly denied a U.S. television Emmy award.
"I should have gotten it," Trump retorted.
In a fiery debate that centered more on policy than the earlier showdowns, Trump accused Clinton's campaign of orchestrating a series of accusations by women who said the businessman made unwanted sexual advances.
Trump said all of the stories were "totally false" and suggested Clinton was behind the charges. He called her campaign "sleazy" and said, "Nobody has more respect for women than I do, nobody."
Clinton said the women came forward after Trump said in the last debate he had never made unwanted advances on women. In a 2005 video, Trump was recorded bragging about groping women against their will.
"Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth and I don't think there is a woman anywhere who doesn't know what that feels like," said Clinton, the first woman to win the nomination of a major U.S. political party.
She cited other minorities she said Trump had maligned.
"This is a pattern. A pattern of divisiveness, of a very dark and in many ways dangerous vision of our country where he incites violence, where he applauds people who are pushing and pulling and punching at his rallies. That is not who America is," she said.
Trump entered the debate hoping to reverse his fading momentum in an election that opinion polls show is tilting away from him. The New York businessman has raised concerns by claiming the election will be rigged against him, and has urged supporters to patrol polling places in inner cities to prevent voter fraud.
The two presidential rivals had tough but issues-based exchanges on abortion, gun rights and immigration during the 90-minute showdown, but occasionally reacted angrily.
Clinton said she would raise taxes on the wealthy to help fund the U.S. government's Social Security retirement program, but suggested Trump might try to find a way out of paying the higher taxes.
"Such a nasty woman," Trump said.
Trump, 70, and Clinton, 68, battled sharply over the influence of Vladimir Putin, with Clinton calling Trump the Russian president's puppet and Trump charging Putin had repeatedly outsmarted Clinton.
Clinton said Trump had refused to condemn Putin and Russia for recent cyber attacks.
"He'd rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence officials that are sworn to protect us," Clinton said.
U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security have said the Russian leadership was responsible for recent cyber attacks on the Democratic National Committee and the leaking of stolen emails.
Trump rejected the idea that he was close with Putin, but suggested he would have a better relationship with Russia's leader than Clinton.
"He said nice things about me," Trump said. "He has no respect for her, he has no respect for our president and I'll tell you what, we're in very serious trouble."
Clinton responded: "Well that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president of the United States."
"No, you're the puppet," Trump said. "Putin has outsmarted her and Obama every single step of the way," he said in a reference to U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat like Clinton.
Clinton also said Trump had been "cavalier" about nuclear weapons and should not be trusted with the nuclear codes.
Clinton promised to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would uphold a woman's right to abortion laid out in the court's 1973 Roe vs Wade decision, while Trump promised to appoint what he called "pro-life" justices who would overturn the decision.
Under existing law, Trump said, "You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby."
"Honestly, nobody has business doing what I just said, doing that as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth," Trump said.
Clinton said Trump's "scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate."
"This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make and I do not believe the government should be making it," Clinton said.
Trump said he would appoint a Supreme Court justice who would protect American gun rights.
He has said in the past that Clinton wants to "essentially abolish" the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing a right to bear arms.
Clinton said she supports gun rights, but wants additional regulations on guns, citing examples of children being hurt or killed in gun accidents. "I see no conflict between saving people's lives and defending the Second Amendment."
Clinton and Trump walked straight to their podiums when they were introduced at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, once again forgoing the traditional handshake as they did at the second debate last week in St. Louis, Missouri. This time they did not shake hands at the end of the debate, either.
The debate gave Trump, making his first run for elected office, perhaps his best remaining chance to sway the dwindling number of Americans who are still undecided about their vote.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, leads in national polls and in most of the battleground states where the election will likely be decided. The debate was her opportunity to make a closing argument on why she is best suited to succeed Obama.
Clinton has struggled to get past concerns about transparency raised over her use of a private email server for work communications while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
Exchange of accusations
The two candidates clashed over accusations that Clinton as secretary of state did favors for high-dollar donors to her family's Clinton Foundation. Asked about a potential conflict of interest, she said she acted "in furtherance of our country's values and interests."
She and Trump talked over each other, Clinton defending her ties to the foundation, saying "there is no evidence" of a conflict, while Trump said the foundation should return millions of dollars to countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar who treat gay people harshly.
"It's a criminal enterprise," Trump said.
Clinton said she would be happy to compare the Clinton Foundation to Trump's charitable Trump Foundation, which among its activities was to buy "a six-foot statue of Donald."Tweets about lang:en from:AnshelPfeffer OR from:ChemiShalev OR from:PeterBeinart OR from:AsherSchechter OR from:IlenePrusher OR from:AllisonKSommer OR from:ileneprusher
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LIVE UPDATES (all times EST)
10:36 P.M. - Moderator Chris Wallace concludes the third and final presidential debate.
10:33 P.M. - Clinton says raising taxes on the wealthy will pay for adding additional funds that will pay for medicare and social security.
10:27 P.M. - Confronted with predictions that Trump's policies will increase the U.S. deficit to over 100% of GDP, Trump says the problem will be solved by improving the economy and creating jobs.
10:23 P.M. - "I am not going to let anyone into this country who isn't vetted, who we aren't confident about," said Clinton regarding the immigration of Muslims.
10:21 P.M. - Trump says Syria's President Bashar Assad is "much tougher, much smarter" that Clinton and Obama.
10:19 P.M. - Clinton says she agrees with Bernie Sanders that Trump is the "most dangerous person" to run for the presidency in the modern history of the U.S.
10:16 P.M. - Iran will be the beneficiary of recapturing Iraq's Mosul, says Trump, claiming that Iran is taking over their neighboring country and that Clinton and Obama's policies have made it easier for them.
10:15 P.M. - Clinton says she would not support introducing additional troops in Iraq or Syria after Iraq's Mosul is recaptured from ISIS. Trump lamented the loss of the "element of surprise" in the battle for Mosul, claiming that "everybody has left" the city thanks to public warnings of the Western offensive.
10:12 P.M. - Clinton says she is "appalled" that Trump would say he may not recognize the outcome of the election.
10:09 P.M. - When asked if he will accept the outcome of the election, Trump says "I will tell you at the time; I'll keep you in suspense." Clinton replied, saying that the comment was "horrifying."
10:08 P.M. - "Millions of people are registered to vote who shouldn't be able to vote," says Trump claiming that he had learned the information from Pew Research Center and other sources.
10:07 P.M. - Clinton says Trump hasn't paid income tax in years, to which Trump says she "should have changed the law" during her tenure as a Senator.
10:05 P.M. - Trump says 100% of his foundation's funds go to "various" charities. Clinton counters that none of this can be confirmed as he hasn't released his tax records.
10:02 P.M. - Trump calls the Clinton Foundation a "criminal organization," and calls on her to return all her donations from countries with poor human rights records.
10:00 P.M. - "She talks about violence at my rallies, but she caused the violence," Trump says of Clinton.
9:54 P.M. - Trump accuses the Clinton the campaign of paying people $1,500 to cause violence at his rallies and make sexual harassment allegations against him, "if it wasn't to get their 10 minutes of fame."
9:52 P.M. - "She gave us ISIS as sure as you are sitting there," says Trump.
9:51 P.M. - Trump and Clinton spar over trade agreements with Clinton accusing Trump of shipping jobs abroad and Trump asking "why the hell didn't you enforce trade agreements over the last several years?"
9:45 P.M. - Trump says he will cut taxes massively, but Clinton says Trump would advocate for the largest tax cuts in history.
9:44 P.M. - Trump says he will renegotiate NAFTA, but will "terminate" it if he can't get a "good deal."
9:42 P.M. - Trump claims countries have started paying for U.S. protection since he said they should offer some form of compensation for military protection.
9:36 P.M. - Clinton accuses Trump of being a "puppet" for encouraging "espionage" against the U.S. with his comments about Russia. After being pushed by moderator Wallace, Trump says he condemns interference in U.S. elections by Russia "or anyone else."
9:33 P.M. - Clinton urges Trump to condemn "obvious" Russian involvement in attempts to influence U.S. elections. Trump says "she has no idea" who stood behind hacks against the Democratic party and that "she doesn't like Putin because Putin has outsmarted her ever step of the way."
9:30 P.M. - Clinton responds to leaked Wikileaks comment in which she said in a paid speech that she wants open border, saying that she was addressing energy policy and not immigration.
9:28 P.M. - "President Obama deported millions and millions of people and nobody talks about it," says Trump.
9:25 P.M. - Clinton says Trump "choked" during his meeting with the president of Mexico, citing that he didn't bring up his proposal to build a border wall.
9:23 P.M. - The debate topic moves to immigration with Trump accusing Clinton of wanting open borders and saying, "We have some bad hombres here, and we're gonna get them out."
9:20 P.M. - Clinton, Trump spar on abortion, with Trump saying he would appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn legal abortion on a federal leve, thereby handing the decision to the states. Clinton said "I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade."
9:16 P.M. - "We will appoint justices who will do no harm to the Second Amendment," says Trump.
9:14 P.M. - There is "no conflict between saving people's lives and the Second Amendment," says Clinton.
9:11 P.M. - The candidates answer first question regarding their views on the Supreme Court, with Clinton saying the court should work for the people and Trump slamming criticism from Ruth Ginsberg and any restrictions on the Second Amendment.
9:05 P.M. - Trump, Clinton emerge onstage, welcomed by moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.
8:00 P.M. - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton go head to head on Wednesday night in a third and final debate as Trump tries to reverse momentum in a U.S. election that opinion polls show is tilting away from him.
Both candidates are likely to attack each other's character, as they have during a long and often nasty campaign. Trump's White House bid has been marked by personal squabbles and controversial comments about immigration and minorities while Clinton has struggled to get past concerns about transparency raised over her handling of emails while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. (Reuters)
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