WATCH: Trump, Clinton Spar over Abortion in Final Debate

Things got spirited early during last night’s final presidential debate when moderator Chris Wallace asked both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to discuss their views on abortion, the Supreme Court, and Roe v. Wade. Trump reiterated his campaign promise to appoint pro-life justices and attacked Clinton on her support for partial-birth abortion, while Clinton reaffirmed that she would defend Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood as president.

You can watch the full exchange and read the transcript below:

WALLACE: Well, let’s pick up on another issue which divides you and the justices that whoever ends up winning this election appoints could have a dramatic effect there, and that’s the issue of abortion.

TRUMP: Right.

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, you’re pro-life. But I want to ask you specifically: Do you want the court, including the justices that you will name, to overturn Roe v. Wade, which includes — in fact, states — a woman’s right to abortion?

TRUMP: Well, if that would happen, because I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that that will go back to the individual states.

WALLACE: But I’m asking you specifically. Would you like to…

TRUMP: If they overturned it, it will go back to the states.

WALLACE: But what I’m asking you, sir, is, do you want to see the court overturn — you just said you want to see the court protect the Second Amendment. Do you want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade?

TRUMP: Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justice on, that’s really what’s going to be — that will happen.

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“Connecticut Avenue” Is Back: Second Episode of The Pulse’s New Podcast

Last week we launched Connecticut Avenue, the official podcast of The Pulse 2016. Today’s episode, our second, is hosted by Jon Schweppe, contributing editor to The Pulse 2016, and Kevin Dawson, a frequent contributor to The Pulse 2016.

Schweppe and Dawson touched on a number of topics today, including last week’s debate between Trump and Clinton (0:00), tonight’s VP debate between Pence and Kaine (6:00), Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary (7:30), the Hyde Amendment (12:00), Illinois’s anti-life, anti-religious freedom law (16:15), and Trump’s proposal to repeal the Johnson Amendment (23:30).

Check it out, and let us know what you think in the comments! Continue Reading

No, Trump Didn’t Win the Debate

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Deal Hudson earlier this week claimed Donald Trump won his first debate with Hillary Clinton. He said he won because he didn’t self-destruct.

We must have been watching two different debates. I think Donald Trump won the first 20 minutes of the debate, but unfortunately for him and his supporters, it was a 90 minute debate.

He was unprepared. He missed opportunities. He at times didn’t even make any sense.

Now, I disagree with Hillary Clinton on policy, but she was poised and prepared. You don’t wing debates, especially if you are a political novice. He was able to get away with this in the primaries with several people on stage, but he can’t in one-on-one debates.

His supporters have said he “won the polls,” but they are referring to online polls that are nothing more than fan polls that can be easily manipulated.

I like to live in this little thing called reality. Scientific polls paint a different picture about the public’s view of Trump’s debate performance:

  • CNN/ORC: 62 percent though Clinton won, only 27 percent thought Trump won.
  • Politico/Morning Consult: 49 percent thought Clinton won, 26 percent thought Trump won.
  • Public Policy Polling: 51 percent though Clinton won, 40 percent thought Trump won.
  • Echelon Insights: 48 percent thought Clinton won, only 22 percent thought Trump won.
  • YouGov has Clinton winning that poll by 27 points.

Only one national poll has been conducted completely after the debate, by Public Policy Polling, which shows Clinton up by four points. Continue Reading

Why Trump Won the Debate

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Regardless of the morning headlines, Donald Trump won the debate. Why? Hillary Clinton supporters, including most of the media, were betting on Trump self-destructing in the face of personal barbs thrown at him from Lester Holt and Clinton.

Trump, however, didn’t take any of the hooks — at least, none of the important ones. Even when Holt pressed the issues, “Let me interrupt just a moment,” Trump just talked over the “moderator” until he shut up. As a seasoned TV performer, Trump knows that those debating have leverage over the moderator, especially one who hardly conceals his political preferences.

Trump also successfully peppered Clinton with sly, and very audible, interruptions, which threw off the rhythm of Clinton’s most robotic moments.

Here’s the only Trump fumble of the debate:

HOLT: Why is your judgment — why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s judgment?

TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?

That moment reminded me of the Trump who won the primaries, not the Trump who will very likely win the coming election.

But back to barbs, which were predictable and, probably, both rehearsed and coordinated between the Clinton campaign and NBC News. Evidence of coordination can be found throughout the debate, but the most telling evidence came when Clinton ordered Holt to shut Trump up on the subject of NATO and the Middle East:

CLINTON: Lester, we’ve covered…

TRUMP: No, wait a minute.

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Trump’s Knockout Punch Opportunity

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

In the first of the three presidential debates, only Trump’s handlers scored his performance as better than a draw. Both candidates jabbed and scored some points against the other. Pity that Trump did not launch a haymaker against Hillary’s big glass jaw on the economy.

Last May, The New York Times reported:

Hillary Clinton already has an assignment for her husband, Bill Clinton, if they return to the White House next year. The former president, Mrs. Clinton told voters on Sunday, will be “in charge of revitalizing the economy.” “Because, you know, he knows how to do it,” she said.

Less well reported was the progressives’ fury kindled by this. The neoliberal Bill Clinton, who, mostly embellishing on the Reagan/Kemp Supply-Side legacy under pressure from a newly Republican Congress, cut the capital gains tax; mended, rather than ended, a disgraceful welfare regime; and materially advanced free trade.

Massive job growth ensued. After an initial two years of soggy economic growth, America generated over 20 million new jobs under Clinton, putting, among other things, the federal budget into surplus. This, however, did not endear Clinton to the dogmatic progressive left.

The followers of Bernie Sanders, with whom Hillary Clinton then was locked in mortal primary combat (and whose election day turnout she now needs), were outraged. Clinton immediately backpedaled and adopted huge swaths of the Sanders economic platform.

This made her vulnerable in the general election. Candidate Clinton’s initially embracing and then distancing herself from President Clinton’s economic policy success represents a dangerous flip flop. Continue Reading

Trump Can Destroy Hillary Tonight By Exposing Her Radical Beliefs on Religious Freedom

Donald Trump (photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Donald Trump has an incredible opportunity tonight. With momentum on his side, and with critical swing states shifting in his direction, he has the ability to convince millions of undecided voters to support him. The best way he can do that is by exposing Hillary Clinton’s extreme positions.

Voters are generally aware of her corruption and her involvement in dozens of scandals. They understand intuitively that she is not trustworthy. But do they know about her support for radical leftist policies that would make Che Guevara blush?

In a speech in April 2015, Clinton told a feminist audience, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed” in order to allow for more abortion.

This anti-American idea that “religious beliefs have to be changed” is not new. Like most progressives, Hillary Clinton finds religion to be an annoying pest that gets in the way of promoting progressive orthodoxy. When the Clinton campaign says “Love Trumps Hate” on their bumper stickers, what they really mean is that modern progressive beliefs about gay marriage and gender ideology should trump anything written in a book written thousands of years ago.

That’s their attitude. Faith should submit to political ideology. It’s completely antithetical to what people with sincerely held religious beliefs actually believe — that political principles are born out of faith.

Understandably, given this attitude, Clinton sees the First Amendment — and really, religion itself — as a roadblock to progressive utopia. Continue Reading

Monday Will Be the Campaign’s Next Big Inflection Point

Donald Trump has had a very good six-week stretch. His campaign, led by veteran “pollstress” Kellyanne Conway, has been very impressive and disciplined, and as a result, Trump has all-but-closed the gap to Hillary Clinton.

According to RealClearPolitics‘ polling average, Trump trailed Clinton by nearly eight points on August 9. This was right after the Democratic National Convention and after Trump’s public feud with the Khan family. Not a great moment. On the same day, FiveThirtyEight‘s polls-plus model gave Clinton an astonishing 78.9 percent chance of winning.

But since then, Trump has slowly — and consistently — gained ground. According to today’s RealClearPolitics polling average, Trump trails Clinton by slightly more than a point:

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And FiveThirtyEight‘s polls-plus model gives Clinton just a 58.4 percent chance of winning:

Screenshot via


Some on the right have speculated that the terrorist attacks in New York and Minnesota might work in Trump’s favor. I’m skeptical. The race appears to have hit a temporary lull. Trump has made real gains, which is impressive, but there are still a significant number of undecided voters who are waiting to make a decision. My guess is that hundreds of thousands of undecided voters will make their decision after watching next Monday’s debate on NBC, and that this will be the next big inflection point in the race.

A strong debate from Trump could propel him into his first real lead of the election cycle as undecided voters decide he is a better bet than Clinton. Continue Reading

Let Giant Meteor of Death Debate!

While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are clearly the top two candidates in this year’s presidential field, one independent challenger has been building some recent momentum. This would-be spoiler has polled in the low teens nationally; generated a growing social media following; and outlined a compelling plan to destroy ISIS, eliminate America’s national debt, and bring permanent change to Washington.

I am talking, of course, about the Giant Meteor of Death.

In an election year in which the two major party candidates are facing questions about their honesty, it is no surprise that Giant Meteor has emerged as a powerful alternative. While this candidate has put forward many ambitious promises, there appears to be little doubt it has what it takes to achieve these results. Giant Meteor has outlined a surefire plan to end both abortion and racism; to put a stop to illegal immigration and terrorism; and to make income inequality a thing of the past. This is a proposal which would cross all party lines and ideological divisions — and one which would surely have a worldwide impact.

Given this challenger’s meteoric rise to relevance, it does not seem fair that the media and political establishment continue to treat its candidacy as some sort of joke to be marginalized or ignored. In the most recent national poll in which it was included, Giant Meteor registered 13 percent support among registered voters — just two points below the threshold required to debate, and six points more than the combined total of other third party hopefuls Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Continue Reading

The Third Party Debate Lawsuit Was Just Rejected

“Libertarian” presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein received bad news on Friday when Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer threw out their lawsuit aimed at entering the general election’s presidential debates this fall.

Johnson (former Governor of New Mexico) and Stein (physician) sued the Commission on Presidential Debates after both “failed to receive invitations to the privately-sponsored presidential debates in 2012”. The Commission offers invitations to candidates who are constitutionally eligible, have secured the necessary ballot access, and are garnering at least 15 percent support in public polling prior to the election.

The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the Republican and Democratic parties, along with their respective candidates in 2012, “conspired to restrain commerce; monopolize; violate the campaigns rights to free speech; and intentionally interfere with prospective economic advantage and relations.” Together, these four complaints amount to one: The Republicans and Democrats have conspired to ensure that no third party candidate can get on the debate stage and benefit from the free media exposure that such a debate provides.

The Court rejected this line of reasoning because the allegation was “wholly speculative and dependent entirely on media coverage decisions.” As such, the Court ruled that Dr. Stein and Governor Johnson did not have standing, as they could not prove that they were actually hurt electorally by absence from the debates. Essentially, if the Commission were to allow Dr. Stein and Governor Johnson onto the debate stage, they would have to allow all declared presidential candidates onto the stage, at which point the debate would be such a circus that ratings would plummet and the media wouldn’t broadcast them because viewers wouldn’t be tuning in. Continue Reading