Election 2016 has proven to be toxic and entertaining -- a lot like an episode of Jersey Shore, punctuated by character attacks, blatant lying, excitable wiggling, and mysterious sniffing -- but the circus is almost over. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debated for the final time last night. Below, with the November 8 Election Day fast-approaching, we put together a quick guide detailing what happened during the candidates' face-offs, and how to rewatch them.
Presidential Debate #1
Held September 26, at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York. NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt moderated.
Highlights: Clinton defended her stamina, said Trump's political activity sprang from a racist lie, and shimmied. Trump bragged about his temperament, said Clinton had been fighting ISIS her whole adult life, and sniffed. (Saturday Night Live was the real winner.)
Held October 4, at Longwood University, in Farmville, Virginia. CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano moderated.
Highlights: Tim Kaine promised to focus on community policing, hammered Mike Pence about Trump's tax returns, and interrupted a lot. Pence underlined his ticket's position on abortion, said the Clinton-Kaine campaign had unleashed an "avalanche of insults," and started a meme.
Presidential Debate #2
Held October 9, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. ABC's Martha Raddatz and CNN's Anderson Cooper moderated the town hall-style meeting.
Highlights: Clinton played it safe and quoted Michelle Obama, maintained that Trump was unfit to be commander in chief, and did more smiling than interrupting. Trump defended his hot-mic mishap by going after Clinton's husband, threatened to jail his opponent for her emails if elected, and sniffed again. Also, Ken Bone.
Presidential Debate #3
Held October 19, at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Fox News' Chris Wallace moderated.
Highlights: Clinton implied her opponent would become Russia's puppet and said he was unfit to handle nuclear codes. Trump said he wanted to get rid of our country's "bad hombres," gave a sketchy answer about accepting the election results, and did a few more sniffs. (The New Yorker was ready with a pair of throwback cartoons.)
Other things to know
- Clinton prepared meticulously, buckling down on strategy by spending five days off the campaign trail. The New York Times reported in August that her team talked to Trump's ghostwriter, watched prior debate tapes, and sought advice from psychology experts to get an edge. Her longtime aide Philippe Reines played Trump during mock face-offs.
- In the other corner: "I believe you can prep too much for those things," Trump told the Times this summer, noting he already knew how to handle his opponent. "I don’t want to present a false front. I mean, it’s possible we’ll do a mock debate, but I don’t see a real need." New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie helped a little anyway.
- Bye-bye, opposing family handshakes.
- According to an August poll from Quinnipiac University, 62 percent of those surveyed wanted a third-party candidate in the debates.
- Neither the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson nor the Green Party's Jill Stein -- the most popular alternatives -- made the cut.
- The 90-minute events had no commercial breaks, which wasn't as cool or as exciting as it sounded. (If you missed commercials, here you go.)
- Hosting universities sold a limited number of tickets to the masochists who wanted to experience all this live.
What to do when you inevitably start crying
- Buy a bag of Cheetos Puffs.
- Grab your best blanket and comfiest pillow.
- Fall asleep to Cool Runnings.
- Wake up in 2020.
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