Three strikes at debate and Trump is out

Strike one against GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE at the Las Vegas debate? Trump did not chastise the Russians for interfering with our presidential election. Trump refuses to accept the declaration of the American intelligence community that the Russians are running a giant cyberattack on the U.S. to influence our election.


Why does Trump refuse to accept the idea that Russians are interfering with our election? Why does he respond with if the U.S. and the Russia “got along well, that would be good”?

In July, Trump actually said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down.”

He said that despite Russia invading Ukraine two years ago. Really.

Strike two against Trump? He blatantly lied about letting Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia go nuclear if they want. He actually said he never said that, but he did.

His words, from an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace? “Maybe [Japan] would be better off — including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.”

Responding to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asking “You’re ready to let Japan and South Korea become nuclear powers?”: “I am prepared to, if they’re not going to take care of us properly.”

Responding to CNN’s Anderson Cooper asking “So if you said, ‘Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well,’ and Saudi Arabia says ‘We want them, too?'”: “Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen, anyway. It’s going to happen anyway. It’s only a question of time.”

Strike three against Trump? He refuses to declare that he will accept the election results if he loses. He continues to feed his fanatical followers red meat about the election; that the election is rigged against him; that there are millions of people registered to vote that shouldn’t be.

In the 226 years since the Constitution went into effect, no complaint about a national theft of a presidential election has ever been seriously made and if made, not proven. It is impossible to steal a national election for the simple reason that there are over 14,000 vote counting districts and jurisdictions. We start at the individual state level; 50 states and the District of Columbia each have their own systems for casting and counting votes. No state reports to a vote czar.

Each state then has counties and/or independent cities (California has 58 counties) where the vote counts are made under county clerks or registrars of voters. Thousands of people are involved in counting votes as well as thousands of computers and ballot-counting machines. It would be impossible to steal a statewide election in any state and get away with it because too many people would have to be involved.

For Trump to maintain that the election is rigged and that his victory will be stolen is a fantasy.

A fantasy of a soon-to-be loser.

Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence posts, deletes photo of Trump campaign staff without face masks, not social distancing Pence threatens to deploy military if Pennsylvania governor doesn’t quell looting Pence on Floyd: ‘No tolerance for racism’ in US MORE (R-Ind.) said before the debate that the ticket would accept the election’s result; so, too, did Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, the afternoon of the debate.

Donald Trump twice refused to say he would accept the election results. He pulled the same baloney he did in the first GOP debate, when he refused to declare that he would support the GOP nominee. This time he said he withholds judgment on election results until the votes are cast.

From Fox News’s Brit Hume to CNN’s Dana Bash and Van Jones to many other pundits, Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results was the news headline of the debate.

His refusal kept him from finishing with a draw based on his good first half of the debate. Famous presidential historian Michael Bechloss said on CNN that “historians 50 years from now will remember” Trump’s refusal to say he’d accept the election results.

It was the defining moment of the debate; it killed any chance Trump had of winning.

He lost it no matter what his followers think and say.

The CNN/ORC Instant Poll results validate this observer’s view. Fifty-two percent of debate watchers polled thought that Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE won the debate; only 39 percent thought Trump won. Fifty-five percent thought that Trump’s attacks were fair; 63 percent thought Clinton’s attacks were fair.

In a CNN focus group of undecided debate watchers at the debate site, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the vote was Clinton, 11; Trump, nine; and one draw.

This win for Clinton makes it three wins in a row for the Democratic nominee.

Trump must have realized that he had lost when he slipped in a verbal stiletto when Secretary Clinton was wrapping up: that she’s “such a nasty woman.”

That Trump won’t accept the election results (as of today) and his “nasty woman” quote are what will be remembered from this debate.

But those words will be forgotten on Nov. 9 — as Trump will be, too, as the losing presidential candidate.

Donald Trump, three strikes and you’re out.

Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of The New York Times Syndicate.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.