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Five takeaways from Wednesday's debate

The Republican nominee for president of the United States said Wednesday that he might not accept the results of the election.

In one of the most stunning moments in presidential debate history, Donald Trump -- when pressed on his contention the election will be "rigged" -- said, well, it might just be, and that he might not go gracefully into that dark night of Nov. 8.

"I'll keep you in suspense" about whether he'll accept the election results, he said.

This, of course, leads to the debate's top takeaway:

This might not be over on Nov. 8. Sure, in all likelihood based on the polls, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is at this point poised for a big win, not a George W. Bush-Al Gore-hanging chad cliffhanger. But even if it is a big Clinton win, Trump may not believe the results -- which means a significant minority of the American people may not, either. The ramifications of this are immense and frightening. And that's why Twitter lit up like a firecracker when Trump said what he said, with even conservatives saying Trump had done something dangerous for the country he wants to make great. As conservative pundit Laura Ingraham said: "He should have said he would accept the results of the election. There is no other option unless we're in a recount again."

"Nasty" is as nasty does: Another one of Trump's stunners came near the end of yet another debate where he interrupted Clinton constantly and claimed, despite what the FBI had to say, that she's a criminal. "Such a nasty woman," he said. Now that wouldn't seem so surprising, but for the fact that Trump had spent the previous 80 minutes or so scowling, attacking, then scowling some more. Et tu, Brute?

"Largely debunked" doesn't mean "debunked." Trump responded with predictable bluster when asked about the nine women who in recent days have accused him of groping them. Most notably, he said there stories had been "largely debunked" -- but he didn't offer any evidence that they had. The audience, it seemed, didn't buy his non-argument. Moments later, when Trump said "Nobody has more respect for women than I do," the audience laughed.

Hillary Clinton: "stone cold killer." Clinton did it again. She baited Trump about his use of foreign labor, his purchasing of foreign goods, about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, about -- well, just about anything she could think of, anything she could fit in. After three debates, it's quite obvious that she knows how to do something Trump's GOP primary opponents didn't: How to get under his skin. Mark Salter, who worked with Sen. John McCain on his books, described her performance best. "Man, she's a stone cold killer," Salter tweeted.

She's also a little dull. OK, you all knew that already. That's why it's not in the lead paragraph. But it bears repeating because it's a defining fact of this election. Clinton dives deep into facts and spins very coherent long-sentence answers and smiles when she talks and is, yes, a little stilted, a little dull. But "dull" equals "no gaffes," which means that this will likely be seen as another good night for the Democratic nominee.

 

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