Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton take the stage Wednesday night in Las Vegas for the third and final presidential debate.
Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron of Keene joined NHPR’s Morning Edition to talk about the debate and what she’s hoping to hear from Trump.
Trump is likely to be asked to address the multiple allegations of sexual assault that have come up since the last debate. What does he need to say to voters who are concerned about these allegations?
I think he needs to be contrite. I think he needs to once again repeat that he’s sorry things like that are coming up in this campaign and I think he needs to not sound angry about it.
He’s lashed out at his accusers at his rallies, at times even criticizing their appearances. Is that appropriate? Is that helping him at all?
No, I don’t think that’s helping him at all. He’s still hovering around 40 percent and he keeps getting handed opportunities to increase that number and at times has even had a chance to win this race. I think he’ll be handed another opportunity tonight, but it depends on how he acts, even more than what he says.
Another topic likely to come up tonight is Trump continuing to say the election is somehow rigged against him. Does that kind of talk concern you at all?
Yes, it does concern me. I don’t believe that elections are rigged. It makes him sound like a man who’s preparing to have an excuse for losing. I would like to say that I hope he won’t have an excuse if he loses. And I hope that he doesn’t start using an excuse this early. Again, he has an opportunity tonight and I believe if he wants to expand beyond that 40 percent, he has to stop that argument.
Polls continue to show voters trust Clinton more on foreign policy and dealing with an international crisis. What does he need to say to make sure voters trust him on those issues?
I think he should address those issues. I think when he addresses the issues and stays on point, that people give him that benefit of believing they can trust him in those situations. Both of them don’t always answer the questions, so if he answers the questions and shows the American people what’s he made of, I think he’ll have a better chance at that.
You feel if he can be a little more disciplined on stage, that his message would get through?
Absolutely. I mean, there are those people saying he’s angry. At the beginning, I thought Americans aren’t that angry, but there are Americans who are angry, so it appeals to them, but he has to appeal to the rest of us.
What do you expect to see from both candidates tonight?
I expect Hillary Clinton to be defensive. I think she probably feels she has nothing to lose at this point, so I think she will continue in a similar vein even more so than she did at the last debate. I know what I hope to see from Donald Trump. I hope to see a man who gives up the argument and addresses issues. Tonight, it’s on things like entitlements, which is an important part of this race for me and I want to hear some real answers.
What are you hearing from Republicans around the state?
Well, there are the die-hard Donald Trump supporters, and there are those of us who hope he does better. I’m a party operative and I believe it’s my job to support Donald Trump, but I also think he could be a good president. But even if I didn’t believe that, I also believe that voting for a Republican is going to put into office other people that believe as I do, that believe in the Republican Party: smaller government, lower taxes, and more jobs, and a better defense in this country. Whether you’re with him 100 percent or not, if they want to have those kinds of things, they need a person to win who can bring other Republicans into office and appoint conservative people into positions, such as the U.S. Supreme Court.