4 Florida Voters Share Reactions To The Final Presidential Debate
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene at member station WMFE in Orlando, Fla., as part of our project Divided States. The final presidential debate was last night. And really, this was one defining moment when Donald Trump said this. It led to cries of surprise inside the debate hall.
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CHRIS WALLACE: I want to ask you here on this stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely - Sir - that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?
DONALD TRUMP: I will look at it at that time. I'm not looking at anything now. I'll look at it at the time.
GREENE: OK. Not committing to the results. We want to talk about that with four voters from across this very swingy battleground state of Florida. They are all in the studio with us to share their reactions. You met them on the program yesterday.
Diana Font is a small-business owner and a Republican supporting Hillary Clinton. Annie Ruiz is a mother of three from Miami backing Donald Trump. John Palys, to my right, a retail associate in Orlando backing Hillary Clinton. And last, but not least, Allen Sale, a semi-retired insurance salesman backing Donald Trump.
Welcome to all of you. To - you all were hugging each other as this segment started...
GREENE: ...As if - I mean, it's a moment that you want to try and get over differences. And I - really, it was something. And I want to get to that if we can. Let's just listen a little more to that moment that we're talking about from the debate. This is in an exchange with the moderator Chris Wallace from Fox News.
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WALLACE: But Sir, 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?
TRUMP: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Chris...
GREENE: OK. And this is how Hillary Clinton responded to that.
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CLINTON: He is denigrating - he's talking down our democracy. And I, for one, am appalled that somebody who is the nominee of one of our two major parties, would take that kind of position.
GREENE: She's accusing Trump of talking down democracy by saying that he wouldn't commit to the results. I want to turn to our voters here. Annie Ruiz, what do you make of your candidate, Donald Trump, refusing to say he'll back the winning candidate?
ANNIE RUIZ: Well, first of all, can I say I'm appalled by a lot of things Hillary Clinton has done? But if I'm going to speak to what Donald Trump said last night, I think, basically, he won't contest the election if he wins. Let's be honest.
GREENE: Then why say it? Why not...
RUIZ: If he loses...
GREENE: ...Just say that now?
RUIZ: Well, listen, he's a fighter, which is what he called Hillary Clinton at the end of the last debate.
GREENE: OK. But you were saying, if he loses...
RUIZ: He's not going to go down easy. But if it's a close election, I'm sure he will raise questions due to voter fraud, media bias, whatever. If it's a wide margin that he loses by, he's going to concede.
GREENE: So you're saying you would expect him to do maybe what we saw in the Bush-Gore time...
GREENE: ...I mean, some recounts and stuff. But then...
GREENE: OK. Allen Sale, you're backing Donald Trump. Why - what was your reaction to him not saying, yes, whatever happens, I'll support it?
ALLEN SALE: Well, he did the same thing in the Republican primary, and he knew it would cost him votes. He could just as easily have said, yeah, I'll support the eventual nominee, which everybody else on stage did. And then nobody else on stage did.
GREENE: OK. So he said this again. Does it bother you that he's saying it? I mean, this is a guy you've decided to back.
SALE: I - if the vote is close and he feels like something happened, like I said before, I think that - I would be disappointed if he put up more of a fight than Al Gore put up if he's put in the same situation that Al Gore was put in.
GREENE: Well, let me - Diana Font, let me ask you about that because your two other voters here seem to be suggesting that it's not that big a deal for a candidate to say, let's see if it's really close, if there's a little bit of voter fraud that could make a difference. Does Donald Trump have an argument here, like, let's see how this election goes and we'll figure it out?
DIANA FONT: I think that if he would've be the man that's - that he supposedly makes it sound instead of whining all the time - let's get to that one - he should be able to say it. You know, I will...
GREENE: Say that he would support the result?
FONT: I'll support you. Yes, not just sit there and say, we'll see, we'll keep you in suspense. This is not the man I want to run my country.
GREENE: Well, Hillary Clinton, the person you do want to run your country, I mean, went after him hard, saying that he's denigrating the democracy.
FONT: It's true.
GREENE: You think that's true.
GREENE: You wanted a call for unity from her, though, last night.
FONT: And I got it.
GREENE: You got it. Where did you get it, if not here?
FONT: I got it at the end, at least, when she said that this is bipartisan. Let's run a country. Let's run a nation. Let's stop the nonsense of whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. I will go - I'm going across the board right now as a Republican. I will go for Hillary...
FONT: ...Definitely, because I don't think he's worth it.
RUIZ: Can I say something...
GREENE: Please, please.
RUIZ: ...Along those lines?
GREENE: Yeah, anything.
RUIZ: You know, someone who says that at a debate but then in her campaigns calls people like myself deplorable, backwards...
FONT: Again, we're going back...
RUIZ: ...Taco bowls.
FONT: No offense, but you're going back...
GREENE: Now, wait a minute...
FONT: ...To the same thing of Trump - the thing that - you're not giving an answer. (Laughter) I'm sorry. I think that Trump...
GREENE: But Annie's saying that she feels she was called a deplorable by Hillary Clinton. I mean, is...
RUIZ: I was called a deplorable.
FONT: He's called people worse.
RUIZ: (Laughter) My point is you can't say you're trying to unify the nation and then put language like that out there.
JOHN PALYS: That's...
RUIZ: That's not OK.
PALYS: I think there's...
RUIZ: You're not unifying.
PALYS: ...There's no doubt the...
GREENE: John Palys, you're supporting Hillary Clinton. What do you think of this?
PALYS: Yeah. I think that the doubt - there's no doubt that the divisiveness that Trump has caused versus, you know, one deplorables comment that Hillary made and then, you know, reversed her comment saying, well, it's not half of them. You know, some people that support Trump do feel personally attacked. But I do think if you look at the comment in context, she was referencing people like David Duke and the KKK, who do support Trump. And I do get that he, you know, is not responsible for all of his voters. But at the same time, he will not disown that line of thinking or racism at the same time.
GREENE: Annie, valid...
RUIZ: So do you agree with what came out on the emails, where they called people like myself, who are Catholic, backwards; where they called people like...
GREENE: These are some of the WikiLeaks emails that were...
RUIZ: ...Myself, who are Hispanic, taco bowls? Is that OK?
PALYS: Well, personally, I don't even know that I can completely trust these WikiLeaks because they've been in, you know, conjunction with Russian espionage, which Trump then says, you know, absolutely, by all means, Putin. Come in and hack Hillary's emails. Hack this American information.
That, to me - this is the first time in an election we've had someone patently un-American run for president of a major party who says - yes, Russia, hack our systems. That's un-American.
RUIZ: OK. Well, what proof is there of that?
GREENE: Let me give you...
SALE: WikiLeaks was hacking emails of Americans before Donald Trump even announced he was going to run for president.
PALYS: But he's not against it now, though.
GREENE: Annie, let's work here because you seem to be reacting to a lot of what John's saying here.
RUIZ: Yeah. Because everything that comes out on Hillary Clinton, nobody wants to hear about, nobody believes. All they want to do is talk about Donald Trump.
PALYS: I personally am not offended that she had some deleted emails versus, you know, Trump grabbing the women in certain areas.
FONT: I've got the emails.
GREENE: Can I just ask you - this obviously brings up so much passion. But as I mentioned, all of you, right before we started - and I was going to ask you about these things - you decided to have a group hug.
GREENE: What does that - what does that tell us?
SALE: We're more united than we are divided. I think we all recognize that these are probably the two most seriously flawed candidates for president, certainly in my lifetime.
GREENE: You all agree with that?
PALYS: I disagree. No, absolutely not.
GREENE: OK. You think Hillary Clinton is not flawed. You've told us that.
PALYS: No. Politics aside, I actually admire Hillary Clinton...
FONT: Sorry, you have no (unintelligible). I have to agree with him on that one, sorry.
PALYS: ...You know...
GREENE: But do you feel more unified than divided? I mean, is that - because this campaign has not always - certainly not always felt that way.
PALYS: Well, I think this is what makes America great. We all have different backgrounds, different viewpoints. And we can disagree, but we want to try and find common ground. It's not something you always find in day-to-day politics. But that's what real Americans want. That's what, you know...
RUIZ: I do agree on that issue. I think that, you know, once this election is over, hopefully, we can get back to being unified. But I do want to reiterate my point. That kind of language is not OK. And the fact that, you know, people sit here and say, oh, you know, I'm not offended by that. I am.
RUIZ: I'm telling you...
FONT: I'm a practicing Catholic, and it doesn't do anything to me.
PALYS: That's a perfect example.
GREENE: We're going to leave it there. I do like having you all in a room, though. That's...
GREENE: Symbolically, that tells us something, that you all can come together. Thank you so much. That's Diana Font, Annie Ruiz, John Palys and Allen Sale. It's been great having you. We really appreciate all the time this morning.
FONT: Thank you.
RUIZ: Thank you.
PALYS: Thank you.
SALE: Thank you.
GREENE: I just want to turn to another voice here. It's my colleague Scott Detrow, who's doing some fact-checking on this debate. Scott, you there?
SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: I'm there. How's it going, David?
GREENE: Good. It's going well. I just want to ask you about - let me start with one thing that the moderator last night, Chris Wallace, asked about Donald Trump's comments on video about grabbing women and also about the other women who have come forward to say that they have been abused by him. Let's listen.
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TRUMP: I didn't know any of these women. I didn't see these women. These women - the woman on the plane, the - I think they want either fame or her campaign did it. And I think it's her campaign.
GREENE: Did her campaign do it? Is there any evidence that they brought some or all of these women forward, Scott?
DETROW: No. And a lot of the women who've come forward said it was for the same reason - that they watched that second debate. They watched that moment when Donald Trump said he had never done any of these things. And they said, that's not the case. You did it for me - to me. And then they contacted various media outlets.
GREENE: OK. Let's listen to one more claim that Hillary Clinton made last night.
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CLINTON: I think it's important to recognize that he has been criticizing our government for decades. You know, back in 1987, he took out a $100,000 ad in The New York Times, during the time when President Reagan was president, and basically said exactly what he just said now - that we were the laughing stock of the world. He was criticizing President Reagan.
GREENE: Trump criticizing President Reagan, something that could really bother some Republicans, I would imagine. Did Trump do that, Scott?
DETROW: He did do that. And Hillary Clinton had the price right. It was about $100,000 ad. And she's right. There was a lot of similar language. He said that Japan and other countries were taking advantage of the United States, that the U.S. carries too much of a burden when it comes to protecting other countries around the world. He wrote in this ad, quote, "Let's not let our great country be laughed at any more." Not quite make America great again but similar and a lot of the big themes he's continued to hit on, you know, 20-some years later.
GREENE: In this campaign. OK. NPR political reporter Scott Detrow in Washington doing some fact-checking for us. Scott, thanks so much.
DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.