Concession dominates debate reactions

Final debate setting up the final stretch

In the final presidential debate of 2016, a single moment has dominated the headlines.

"I think the big takeaway is that Donald Trump said he would not necessarily concede the election," said Progress Texas executive director Ed Espinoza.

Asked by moderator and Fox News host Chris Wallace, "Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?" Republican nominee Donald Trump answered, "I will look at it at the time."

"I think if you take that moment away, Trump was actually really good last night for what he's capable of," said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak, who argues the rest of the night was among Trump's best. "I thought he really won the debate overall and he won it in all those moments. He won 14 of the 15 rounds, he just lost one round and he got knocked out, and that's why that's all we're talking about."

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, offered moments of fire, with few surprises.

"Hillary's strategy throughout these debates has been a little risky, in that it was cautious and it was reserved," said Espinoza. "I think it paid off for her, because she was able to demonstrate that she was prepared, and that she had a depth of knowledge on these issues. And that is her strength."

Campaigns are back on the trail to make their closing arguments, and Trump is sticking with his unprecedented position. He told a crowd of supporters Thursday in Ohio, "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election....if I win!"

"What he said tonight is part of his effort to blame somebody else for his campaign," Clinton told traveling media in a brief gaggle Wednesday night on her campaign jet. The Democratic nominee leaves the last debate ahead in both the national polls and delegate contest projections.

"In this case, she's going to be able to say that she is the one who is qualified for the presidency and that she is the one who is prepared for the job," said Espinoza. "She's demonstrated that in all three debates."

"Both campaigns should be peaking now," said Mackowiak. "They should be focused entirely on getting out the vote, on unifying their base, on reaching out. They should have all their money dedicated in terms of what they're going to be spending money on. This was the last major moment of the campaign."

Mackowiak suggests Trump's last hope may lie in low voter turnout, driven by historically high negatives for both candidates.

"The lower the turnout, the better the chance Trump has, because his base is small -- 30, 35, 38 percent of the electorate -- but it's very enthusiastic, and it's going to turn out almost no matter what," said Mackowiak. "We don't know that that's necessarily the case with Hillary Clinton's base."

Early voting begins Oct. 24 in Texas and runs through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 8.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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