early and often

Andrew Sullivan Liveblogs the Final Presidential Debate

The stage is set for the third presidential debate. Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Thanks for joining the third and final debate liveblog. Yes, it’s nearly over.

If you want to send me your thoughts as the events proceed, email me at sully@nymag.com (if you’re a recovering dishhead, you can also always use the old email address). Please refresh to update.

10:43 p.m. I’m going to end with a Republican president who was worthy of the office, a man who understood our democracy and whose decency now compels him to vote for Hillary Clinton. Here is George H. W. Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton, who denied him a second term. This is America:

10:36 p.m. In my view, this was easily the most decisive debate. She devastated him. He melted down. His refusal to accept the results of this election disqualifies him automatically from any office in the United States. There were several areas where he was utterly incoherent, grasping at “facts”, without any understanding of policy. His personal foulness emerged.

It seems to me he also has internalized that he has lost this election. May God save this democracy from him.

10:32 p.m. Trump’s penultimate interruption: “Such a nasty woman.” She was just making a fair point, Donald.

10:30 p.m. I have a feeling that when historians observe these debates in the future, the thing they will most note is that nothing was said about climate change.

10:28 p.m. Her point about Trump complaining about Ronald Reagan was a stunner. She has been superb tonight – and got better as she continued.

10:27 p.m. In 2012, Trump thought it was rigged as well:

10:23 p.m.

10:2o p.m. He’s now free associating and falling apart. He just doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. And surely viewers will see that. That was a completely unhinged rant. And “good luck with that, Hillary,” implies that he already thinks she will be president. He’s now in full collapse.

10:19 p.m. I don’t think he knows what “fallen” means.

10:18 p.m. Another fact-check:

10:17 p.m. Mosul is near Syria?

10:14 p.m.

10:12 p.m.

It is utterly disqualifying for any office in the United States, let alone the presidency. Trump is an utter disgrace and so is the party that nominated him. The GOP must now disavow him, if it is to remain a viable party in a constitutional democracy.

10:11 p.m.

10:08 p.m. “Horrifying” is the right word. Clinton is devastating him on his appalling refusal to obey the rules that this democracy lives by.

10:04 p.m. Trump will not say in advance that he will respect the results of the election. This is the first time ever that a candidate for the presidency has refused to abide by the result. He is a threat to our entire democratic system.

10:01 p.m. “It’s a criminal enterprise” to save 11 million living with HIV.

9:58 p.m. She is masterful tonight on his core character. Her answer to the last question destroyed him. I suspect he knows he’s finished. Surely the country sees who this monster is by now.

9:57 p.m.

9:55 p.m. Clinton’s response on sexual assault – the way she exposed how he belittles and demeans women – was calm, composed and powerful.

9:53 p.m. “I didn’t even apologize to my wife.” He’s a disgrace.

9:50 p.m.

9:49 p.m. Clinton’s defense of her experience against Trump’s was devastatingly good.

9:47 p.m.

9:46 p.m. Does Trump understand the difference between a developing country and a mature economy? Don’t answer that.

9:45 p.m. Finally, she’s communicating her economic policy in a way that can persuade. And her critique of his massive tax cuts must surely hit home.

9:41 p.m. Again, he’s talking about NATO and the Pacific alliance as if it’s a protection racket. Now he’s saying he wants to “terminate” NAFTA. Does he know what would happen to the economy if he suddenly rescinded free trade with Canada and Mexico? Does he understand what trade wars do to economies?

9:40 p.m. A throwback to an earlier moment in this debate on Putin:

9:38 p.m. God she’s turning off people now. I know she’s offering substance. But she’s droning on and on. She had a chance to offer a fresh, clear message on the economy. And she wonked it.

9:37 p.m.

9:36 p.m. Trump has now declared the U.S. will not defend Japan or Germany. He wants to rip up the post-WWII international order – one of the most peaceful periods in world history.

9:33 p.m. It’s so strange that Trump cannot agree with the U.S. intelligence services that Russia is behind this intervention in American politics. Clinton wins this exchange decisively.

9:31 p.m. Clinton is going on the offensive on the Putin question. She’s absolutely right to. And he cannot answer her.

9:29 p.m. She has no good answer on her private remarks about her dream of open borders in the Western hemisphere. And so she tries to shift the question to Putin’s role in Wikileaks. Trump is right: that was a nifty pivot, and he exposed her.

9:27 p.m. It’s amazing to me that Trump has been the one to point out how Obama has deported a record number of illegal aliens and how Clinton supports a wall. He’s making them more credible to conservatives and independents.

9:23 p.m. Why doesn’t Clinton really emphasize border enforcement? Her answer on the un-American notion of rounding up millions of people was very strong. But she needs to own the border security issue more forthrightly. Then she reminded people that Donald Trump has exploited illegal immigrants.

9:22 p.m.

9:21 p.m. Trump is waking up a bit.

9:18 p.m. Clinton gives a strong answer on late-term abortions. It’s a losing argument for Clinton but her answer defending women against government intervention was as effective as such an answer can be. Advantage Trump.

9:17 p.m. So far, this is a generic Republican vs Democratic debate. Which helps Trump.

9:12 p.m. Wallace’s first question to Trump on guns was a total softball. Then it got tougher. But Trump seems calmer and more normal than in previous debates. But he’s now on the record as opposing Roe v. Wade.

9:10 p.m.

9:08 p.m. Trump’s answer begins with an attack on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, segues into the Second Amendment and then gives a pretty boilerplate Republican answer. He seems subdued, his voice raspy.

9:07 p.m. Clinton’s answer on the court is more left-liberal than Obama’s – not an answer that will win over Republicans.

9:00 p.m. Is tonight a glimpse of the future shape of Fox News? Is it the moment that Donald Trump starts acting as if he wants to persuade an actual majority of voters? Is it when Bill Clinton’s history of sexual assault tips this debate into melodrama? Will Trump reiterate his foul attempt to delegitimize American democracy? Can Clinton actually manage to convey what she wants to do as president in a way that can actually connect with voters?

And can we recover from the damage already done to our entire political system?

I don’t know the answers, but those are the questions I have right now. And yes, the dread you’re probably feeling is mine too.

Andrew Sullivan Liveblogs the Final Presidential Debate