How Trump Could Have Done Better in the Third Debate

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during their third and final debate, at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 19. Carlos Barria/Reuters

The third presidential debate did not go well for Donald Trump. Saying that he might not accept the results of the election? Check out the internet to see how that went over. Responding to the women who have accused him of sexual assault? He simply denied the charges and called them liars—he did nothing to say he recognized assault is a real problem or to provide any third parties who could speak to his respect for women. Addressing Vladimir Putin and suspected Russian hacking of Democratic emails? He pooh-poohed that there was even a problem.

There are ways Trump could have answered the questions effectively. He could have prepared for these easily anticipated queries. Instead, he winged it. To show how he could have saved himself, here are the original questions from moderator Chris Wallace and what he could have said.

There is a tradition in this country—in fact, one of the prides of this country—is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you're necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?

Of course. But like a lot of Democrats and Republicans, if the race demands a recount, or there's some other kind of dispute I'll consider it. Al Gore contested a recount in Florida in 2000, going to court several times. And he only wanted a recount in a few Democratic counties. Eventually he did the right thing and obeyed the Supreme Court, as I would if any dispute went that far. Two Democratic Senators had disputes. Al Franken, the senator from Minnesota, big Democrat. His race went on for months, all through the courts. In Montana, Senator Jon Tester, another Democrat, his race was very close and took time to sort out. So if Hillary wants to go to court or complain about something after I'm declared the winner that's OK by me.

Mr. Trump, at the last debate, you said your talk about grabbing women was just that, talk, and that you'd never actually done it. And since then, as we all know, nine women have come forward and have said that you either groped them or kissed them without their consent. Why would so many different women from so many different circumstances over so many different years, why would they all in this last couple of weeks make up—you deny this—why would they all make up these stories?

Look, sexual harassment is a serious problem in this country. My daughter Ivanka has had it happen to her. I have a sister. I have a wife. I know this. And I've apologized for the things I said on that tape. But I did not do what I've been accused of doing by these people so close to the election. I didn't. More than 30 years ago, I appointed women to run construction sites. I always promoted women and several are sitting her. They can tell you more afterwards. Sometimes I say things I shouldn't. Some people say I have a big mouth. I'll admit it. But I did not do what I've been accused of.

And I would like to ask you this direct question. The top national security officials of this country do believe that Russia has been behind these hacks. Even if you don't know for sure whether they are, do you condemn any interference by Russia in the American election?

Of course I reject espionage. Foreign governments have no place in our elections. And if you buy the theory that Russia is behind these hacks, then they should be condemned and there should be a response. But the fact is those documents are out there and they show Hillary says one thing to one group and one thing to another. Bigly. She told bankers that she wanted open borders. She says another thing here. She gave access to the Qataris, big-time contributors to her foundation. So I don't like hacking either, but we know what we know and it's not good for her. It's bad.

The Iraqi offensive to take back Mosul has begun. If they are successful in pushing ISIS out of that city and out of all of Iraq, the question then becomes, what happens the day after? And that's something that whichever of you ends up—whoever of you ends up as president is going to have to confront.

The Middle East is a mess. ISIS is everywhere, 32 countries. We still have troops there, fighting, years after the war that she voted for. Syria is a disaster. Russia is in there now. It's bad, folks. Really bad. She was the secretary of state. And the real question is what's better after her and Obama? The Mideast? Worse. China? They're on the march. Terrorism in Europe? Bigly. Our allies don't trust us. Our enemies don't respect us. Our troops and veterans see the places they fought for now run by ISIS. That's Clinton's legacy. It's time for a change.