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MEMO: Final Debate Night – 20 Days to Election Day


To: Interested Parties
From: Adam Hodge, DNC Communications Director
Date: October 19, 2016
Re: Final Debate Night – 20 Days to Election Day

With less than three weeks to go until Election Day, the Democratic Party remains united, focused on the issues that matter to the American people, and dedicated to driving voter turnout.

In the first two debates, Hillary Clinton demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is the only candidate in this race with the experience, knowledge, judgment and temperament to be President. In the final push of this campaign, Democrats are connecting with voters across the country and driving home our message to the American people that we are Stronger Together, and that together, we can continue building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has had the worst three weeks of his campaign.  Instead of trying to talk about real solutions to the challenges facing the country, he’s had to dodge multiple scandals about his past treatment of women, lashed out at members of his own party, and resorted to baseless claims that the election is “rigged.” Donald Trump is desperate and flailing because he knows that he is losing, but voters can see right through these shameful antics to undermine the election just weeks before it happens.

VOTERS VOICES – Questions Trump Needs to Answer

Earlier this month, Democrats launched our “Forward Together” grassroots bus tour – the driving force behind our closing argument to voters in the final days of the election. We’ve been asking voters across the country to tell us what they care about most, and what they think Trump still needs to answer for. Here’s what voters in South Carolina, Georgia and Colorado want the moderators to ask Trump at tonight’s debate:

Rebuilding the Middle Class

McKenna, Colorado Springs, CO: “My question for Donald Trump is: how as someone who has taken advantage of so many middle class families, so many small businesses, so many family-owned businesses, how will he then be an advocate for the middle class, and as president, rebuild our middle class?”

When Trump wins, hard-working Americans lose. Donald Trump bullied and intimidated small businesses and employees alike, making millions at the expense of those he contracted. He often paid his contractors at only a fraction of what they were owed, if anything at all. Some of those who worked on his failed Trump Taj Mahal property were forced to lay off workers and had to accept huge losses.

Trump has also threatened to start a trade war with countries like China, said that wages are too high, and has proposed more tax cuts for the wealthy without a plan to pay for them. A recent analysis of his plan found that it would increase the debt by more than $5 trillion and likely send the economy into another recession.

Tax Returns

Ahauve, Emory, GA: “Why didn’t he release his tax returns? Why is he still trying to defend that?”

Every single major party nominee since 1976 has released their tax returns. Every nominee, that is, except Trump. When Clinton challenged him over the issue, suggesting during the first debate that he hasn’t paid a cent in federal taxes, Trump said “that makes me smart.” We still don’t know what else he’s hiding by withholding his returns, but we can be certain of this much: A Trump economy would be designed first and foremost to enrich one person, Donald Trump.


Brenda, Lawrenceville, GA: “What hasn’t been brought up, more specifically, are the details. For Trump, how would he want to implement his regressive immigration policies and stances? It’s easy to say ‘just build a wall,’ but how are you going to do that logistically? How are you going to do that in a way that still safeguards civil and constitutional rights?”

Trump’s immigration policy features a mass-deportation scheme and a cartoonish border wall.  He’s called Mexicans rapists and has proposed a ban on all Muslims from entering the country.


Dyvone, Atlanta, GA “I would have them ask him about student loan debt, it’s not really a topic that he’s been talking about much since the election started. So I would like to hear his concrete plans for student debt and for younger generations, and future generations who want to go to college and get an education.”

Bharath, Emory, GA “One thing that I would probably ask Donald Trump is does he have any concrete plans for education? Because that’s also one thing that as a younger person is very important, student debt is very important for me and my friends and figuring out how we can manage that as we go on in our lives, and for future generations and our children.”

Donald Trump’s own Trump University targeted vulnerable people, including veterans and seniors, taking their money without offering an actual education in return. His K-12 education plan could eliminate as many as 490,000 teacher jobs, and his proposal for making college more affordable is little more than a threat to pressure private universities to spend their own endowments.

Treatment of Women

Mary-Stuart, Columbia, SC: “The question that I really – I really appreciated [was] about his comments on sexual assault. You know, he kept repeatedly asking him, he didn’t let him get away with it. I think that question should continue to be asked, you know I think that the majority of the questions I would have already been asked and he seems to continually ignore them.” 

In addition to the most recent revelations and allegations of how he has treated women, Donald Trump has a long history of making sexist and misogynistic remarks. He attacked a former Miss Universe Winner, calling her ‘Miss Piggy.’ He has called other women “slobs,” “fat pigs” and “disgusting,” he has rated women on a scale of 1-10, and he’s attacked them on TV and Twitter. He suggested women who get an abortion should be punished. And he suggested that sexual assault in the military was to be expected when men and women serve in the armed forces together.

LGBT Rights

Austin, Emory, GA: “If he were to speak to our LGBT community, especially in the south where you can be fired in a state like Georgia just for being gay, what does he plan on doing to protect the rights of LGBT people and all minorities?”

Trump opposes nationwide marriage equality, supports so-called “religious freedom” laws that allow discrimination against LGBT people, and he selected the most extreme, anti-LGBT Vice Presidential candidate in modern history in Governor Pence.


Elaine, Columbia, SC: “Push him further on environmental issues. I think that was an issue that was out there, about the UN, etc. what he plans globally, how he about climate change, that’s kind of dropped off the radar for a little bit. It should be brought back into the mainstream so to speak.”

Donald Trump called climate change a “hoax” created by the Chinese, but his denial of the hard and fast scientific consensus isn’t an outlier, it’s all-too-common in within the ranks of the Republican Party he represents.

Racial and Socio-Economic Inequality

Zora, Colorado Springs, CO: “How he plans on addressing the issues of racial and socio-economic inequality in this country. Especially with the institution of increased stop and frisks”


Trump refuses to apologize for spreading the racist birther conspiracy, calls African American communities “war zones,” and then asks those same communities to vote for him, all the while offering no solutions to the complex challenges they face.


Undermining Democracy

Elena, Emory, GA: “I would ask Trump how he looks himself in the mirror when he knows he’s blatantly trying to undermine democracy, which means undermining our entire country both at home and abroad. How do you square that with trying to seek to be the president?”

Even after he was reportedly briefed by U.S. intelligence, Donald Trump still refuses to condemn this modern-day Watergate intrusion by a foreign government. When reports exposed the fact that a top Trump foreign policy adviser with extensive business ties to Russia had been communicating with senior Russian government officials close to Vladimir Putin, it raised serious national security questions about the Trump campaign’s involvement with the Russian government. Those revelations were especially disturbing given the fact that Trump has applauded Russia’s efforts to influence American elections with its criminal hacking of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, and that he encouraged the Kremlin to hack other American government agencies.


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