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The Weeds: what we learned at the third debate

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During the first debate, Donald Trump promised to honor the results of the November 8 presidential election.

“If [Hillary Clinton] wins, I will absolutely support her,” Trump told NBC moderator Lester Holt.

But around the time of the second debate, Trump began suggesting that he wouldn’t trust the election’s outcome. By the third debate, held Wednesday night, Trump was openly declaring that he may or may not trust the voting results. “I will keep you in suspense, okay?” he said.

On the latest episode of The Weeds, Vox’s Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff, and Matt Yglesias detail Trump’s deteriorating trust in the election system, discuss the last debate, and explore what we learned about Hillary Clinton from the debates.

“We’ve had a lot of ‘rigging creep’ from Trump here,” Klein says. (You can listen to The Weeds’ post-debate recap at the link below or by downloading the show.) “Trump not only said the election was ‘rigged’ but — and I feel people are missing this — that part of the way the election was rigged is that Hillary Clinton should have been put in jail before the election. And that the very fact she was able to run for the presidency was itself evidence of rigging.”

Klein went on to discuss one reason why Trump is so much more willing to challenge the legitimacy of the election than previous presidential nominees:

John McCain was still a senator after he lost. He wanted to retain the esteem of his colleagues. He had things he wanted to do in his future. He may have wanted to be secretary of state. There were reasons for him not to try to torch the political system and his reputation within it.

Donald Trump doesn’t have that. There’s nothing he is fighting for in politics after this moment. If he doesn’t win the presidency, the best he can have is a very motivated fan base, angry he didn’t win and committed to the Donald Trump brand.

A lot of politicians, because of who they see as their peers and who they care about and whose validation they want ... have reason to act honorably with the best interests of the system. Trump just doesn’t. He has a really different incentive set.

Show notes:

What else came up on The Weeds’ post-debate recap?

You can download the episode here or listen at the link above — and always feel free to email us at weeds@vox.com!