Clinton-Trump III: A polite start turns nasty
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LAS VEGAS — Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE’s final debate started out as a polite fight over policy that featured a far more cordial tone than their previous engagements.

That lasted almost 30 minutes.

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Trump and Clinton then began interrupting one another and moderator Chris Wallace during exchanges over Russia and immigration, with Trump telling Clinton “you’re the puppet” and Clinton clearly trying to get under the skin of the GOP nominee.

Trump and Clinton did not shake hands at the start, but nor did they interrupt each other as they went back and forth on key policy issues as the debate began.

Wallace deftly set the candidates up for extended discussion, and the resulting back and forth was a refreshing change of pace for political watchers frustrated by the low-brow explosions of the first two debates.

Clinton, the Democratic nominee, opened by striking a populist tone, saying she’d appoint Supreme Court justices who stand up to “the powerful corporations and the wealthy.”

Clinton was pressed on her standing on guns and here sought to strike a centrist tone, saying there should be no conflict between the regulation that “save people’s lives” while also being a proponent of the Second Amendment.

Trump proudly declared his support from the National Rifle Association and pointed to Chicago as a place where strict gun regulations have failed.

Minutes later, the tone shifted sharply.

Trump hit Clinton for being a liar and for being outsmarted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Clinton told Trump that he “choked” in his meeting with the Mexican president when he didn’t press him on who would pay for Trump's proposed wall along the southern border. Trump soon relapsed to dipping his head toward his microphone and bellowing “wrong” whenever he felt Clinton was misstating his record.

The feisty tone was generally a return to the first two debates that were notable for their nastiness.

Those bouts have left Clinton in a commanding position in the White House race, with polls showing her ahead nationally and in battleground states.