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Oct 19, 2016 08:32 AM IST | Source: CNBC

What's at stake in the final presidential debate

Clinton leads her Republican opponent by a healthy margin in most national polls, and — more importantly from the perspective of her campaign — appears poised to capture many of the decisive battleground states in the November election.


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will take the stage Wednesday evening at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for the third and final presidential debate — what could be one of the last opportunities for Trump to save his floundering campaign.

Clinton leads her Republican opponent by a healthy margin in most national polls, and — more importantly from the perspective of her campaign — appears poised to capture many of the decisive battleground states in the November election.


Both of the prior two debates were bruising affairs that generated many more headlines from the candidates' attacks on each other than from any policy discussion.


Many pundits said the first debate went poorly for Trump, who elicited laughter when said he has a "much better temperament" than Clinton. The New York businessman later claimed he held back on making "inappropriate" comments about Bill Clinton. During that first faceoff, the Democratic nominee slammed Trump for perpetuating a false claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.


The second debate came in the immediate wake of the release of a 2005 video featuring Trump making lewd comments about women. That hot mic clip included the now-GOP nominee saying that "when you're a star" women let you "grab them by the pussy."

Although some prominent Republicans called for Trump to drop out of the race because of that video, the businessman apologized for his comments and counter-punched with personal attacks against Clinton on the debate stage.

But in the week and a half since that debate, Trump has seen a blistering series of reports of multiple women alleging he sexually assaulted them. In response, the Republican nominee has ratcheted up his rhetoric that the media (and even fellows Republicans) are working against him in a coordinated effort.

He's also suggested that the election could be "stolen" from him as the result of "large scale voter fraud" — even though there's considerable evidence that voter fraud is a nearly nonexistent problem in the country.

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