YSU expert: Debate devolved into ‘circus’

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After about 30 minutes of talking about “serious business,” including Supreme Court nominees, abortion and immigration, the final presidential debate went “back to a three-ring circus,” said Bill Binning, retired Youngstown State University political science department chairman.

“It deteriorated in the latter part,” Binning said of Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. It was the third and final debate between the two, with national polls showing Clinton leading the race.

The most notable moment, Binning said, was when Trump refused to say he’d accept the results of the election.

“I will look at it at the time” about the results, Trump said. He added the election is “rigged” against him, adding, “I will keep you in suspense.”

Mike Pence, his vice-presidential running mate, along with Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway have recently said the presidential nominee will accept the election results.

“That’s startling and not true,” Binning said about the election being rigged.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has said Trump’s previous “rigged” statements were “irresponsible,” and there should be no question about the legitimacy of the results in Ohio.

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said of Trump’s “rigged” comments, “This guy is a habitual liar and a loose cannon. He’s not a real candidate. He doesn’t even deserve consideration.”

“Clinton looked like who she is: a smooth-talking politician,” said Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe. “Trump displayed the characteristics that have made him popular, with hard-hitting facts about the state of our country and the need for new leadership. On looks and stage presence, the nod goes to Hillary. On who is best prepared to lead the country in a new direction, the nod goes to Trump.”

Tracey Winbush, chairwoman of Trump’s Mahoning County campaign and a Republican member of the Electoral College, added: “Where his agenda was very clear and to the point, Hillary Clinton was busy pivoting on the subject matter to avoid answering questions that directly spoke to her history of lack of integrity and character, especially when it came to her 30-year track record.”

Nick Barborak, Columbiana County Democratic Party chairman, said Trump’s inability to say he wouldn’t accept the results of the election “is dangerous, and it undermines the very fabric of our democracy.”

The debate, Barborak said, “was the proverbial final nail in Mr. Trump’s coffin. He looked like a schoolboy who forgot to study for the final exam sitting next to the valedictorian. Mr. Trump was fidgety and disrespectful. He proved to be easily provoked.”

In particular, he said, “Clinton scored points in pointing out Trump’s history of outsourcing jobs, his record of buying Chinese steel and his exploitation of undocumented workers. His actions speak louder than his words.”

But U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, whose district includes all of Columbiana County and southern Mahoning County, said, “In the face of constant attacks from his rival and unprecedented media bias, Mr. Trump remained strong and focused on the issues important to the American people. He communicated his plans for America while Hillary Clinton danced around serious ethical charges regarding the Clinton Foundation, her secret email server, and her campaign’s instigation of violence at Trump rallies.”

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, said, “It was very clear that any time Donald Trump was pushed into answering a question he didn’t want to answer, he insulted Hillary Clinton.”

Those questions, Schiavoni said, included his charitable foundation, accusations he sexually assaulted women, and that he used foreign steel on his various buildings.

“He looked angry, irritated, and grumpier than he normally does,” Schiavoni said. “She did a very good job of answering the questions that matter to the Mahoning Valley, such as economic growth, investments in infrastructure, college affordability. She was much stronger.”