Welcome to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and the third “Unseemly Clash of the Candidates” brought to you by the Commission on Presidential Debates. This final contest comes on the heels of two equally ugly and disgusting performances, on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and on Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis.
Tonight, the two contenders come together for the final time, something many Americans will undoubtedly greet with gratitude.
Now let’s introduce the candidates.
In the blue corner is the Democratic nominee from Chappaqua, N.Y., by way of Illinois, Arkansas and Washington, District of Columbia, Hillary “I’ll Blind Them With My Footwork” Clinton.
In the red corner is the Republican nominee from Queens, and wherever else he elects to plant his flag, Donald “The Tongue and Genital Groper” Trump.
The referee for tonight’s event is Chris Wallace of Fox News. Have mercy on his soul.
Sitting at ringside scoring the bout are judges selected by the commission from the political right, left and middle of the road: the Drudge Report and Huffington Post, respectively. Unfortunately, middle of the road is a no-show.
If this match is anything like the two previous engagements, fans of blood sports are in for a night of thrills. For the rest of the country, hoping for civility and exchanges on issues of the day, not so much.
That is, if the previous encounters are any gauge.
The run-in at Hofstra was one for the books.
There was Clinton, bobbing, weaving and rolling with the punches, as Trump tried to smother her with low blows and wild punches.
He swung and missed on his charge that Clinton lacked stamina, was buckled by his lie about opposing the Iraq War and got called out for his below-the-belt punches about President Barack Obama’s birthplace.
Clinton tried to pin Trump to the ropes with his tax returns. He counterpunched with her email scandal, but his punching power withered as the fight went on.
Despite his advance billing, Trump showed himself to be a slow-footed mauler with no physical agility. It was no knockout, but Clinton won on everyone’s score card except Trump’s.
The second match in St. Louis went the distance, too.
But in the weekend leading up to the fight, the Trump training camp got hit with a haymaker: the out-of-nowhere release of a 2005 tape of Trump making vulgar comments about sexually assaulting women.
The blow landed with devastating effect, buckling his trainers and threatening his purse — the presidency he hoped to earn.
But Trump didn’t cover up to thwart the oncoming offensive. Ever the brawler, he began counterpunching even before the bell rang, parading three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct in a pre-fight news conference and accusing Hillary Clinton of attacking them.
After Clinton and Trump got into the ring, the fight set records for attempted illegal body shots and sucker punches.
There stood Trump, threatening to jail Clinton, admitting he paid no federal income taxes for many years, dismissing his boasts of sexually assaulting women as “locker-room talk,” attacking her over her husband’s alleged sexual misconduct, continuing his defense of Russia, trying to make hay out of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, all the while hovering and menacing her, as is evidently his wont with women.
Clinton displayed all-around good ring generalship, leaving him pawing at the wind.
Altogether, Trump has received a sequence of consecutive punches for which he apparently was not prepared.
The combination came from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who disinvited Trump from a Wisconsin rally, announcing he would no longer make public appearances with his party’s nominee. That was quickly followed by several Republicans urging Trump to drop out of the race, and news that 26 percent of Republican governors and members of Congress have refused to endorse him, according to a USA Today survey.
All that was before he got hit with the blows that may take him to the canvas — a succession of women punching back against his assertion during the second debate that he never did the lewd things he boasted about doing. Each claimed to have been sexually accosted by him.
Trump declares he is not one to throw in the towel. Don’t look for him to give up, even if he hits the canvas. If he enters the ring, look for him to hit on the break, foul with head butts and elbows.
Bear in mind, though, that while Trump may be a glutton, it’s not for punishment. Whether it comes in the ring or at the polls, a pounding is headed his way. The only question left: Can Donald Trump be saved by the bell?
Would that this moment would pass. But if anyone deserves a whipping, it’s Trump. So let’s get it on.