The third presidential debate was dominated by loud disagreements between the candidates on guns, abortion rights, and — most unusually — whether or not it was important for the loser to concede the election.

Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (left) and Win McNamee/Getty Images.

For the third time, we asked our social media followers if the debate convinced them to switch their vote. While most remained set in the choice they had made before — and none said they switched from one major candidate to the other — a few who were previously undecided or planning not to vote were persuaded to come off the fence.


Here's why:

(Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Maegan Martinez, student, McAllen, Texas

Was voting for: Undecided, leaning Jill Stein

Now voting for: Hillary Clinton

Photos by Win McNamee/Getty Images (left) and Rick Wilking/AFP/Getty Images.

Her thoughts on the election, prior to the debate: "Ideologically, I was leaning toward Jill Stein after having been a staunch Bernie supporter. The choice was — and to some extent, still is — difficult because on one end I'm given a narcissist with no political experience, and on the other someone who seems a bit ingenuine. Then, in between, someone who didn't know what Aleppo was, and finally, Jill Stein."

"My questions were: Does [Stein] really have a chance? Is a vote for her an indirect vote for Trump? Should I just submit to the two party system after all?"

What convinced her to commit to Clinton: "Hillary conducted herself so magnificently last night — can words even describe it? She was poised, prepared, articulate, calm, and overall comported herself with dignity befitting of a president. She is everything a nasty woman like myself could ever hope to be and even her mistakes, I think, pale in comparison to what I saw on television yesterday."

Why she was never considering Trump — and why his performance in the debate reaffirmed her choice: "[Trump] has been absolutely erratic his entire campaign. Leaning forward to whisper insults into the microphone? Will he do that during roundtables with other world leaders?"

The two words from Trump that really hurt — and pushed her into the Clinton column: "Bad hombres."

"I am a Chicana woman living on the border of Texas and Mexico. My town is 98% hispanic and tons of the people I know are undocumented. Trump has been spewing hate speech about Hispanic people for months now and the things he says simply do not match up with what I see in my day to day life."

Her bottom line? "Last night he used the language of my people as an insult against my people in a way that was so incredibly shocking, I'm still in disbelief. The 'bad hombres' that need to get out? He wasn't talking about bad people in general. He was talking about Latinx people."

Jason Etgen, sales, Junction City, Kansas

Was voting for: Undecided

Now writing in: Bernie Sanders

Photos by Alex Wong/Getty Images (left) and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Why he watched the debate: "I actually tuned in hoping Clinton could convince me to vote for her. I hadn't decided what I was going to do. With Bernie out and Jill Stein not anywhere close to a realistic option, I was just hoping something would get me excited to go out and vote in a few weeks."

What he was hoping for from Clinton: "I was just hoping for something genuine. Something that would make me say 'Ok. Maybe I can trust her to do what she says and what our country needs.'"

"But I didn't get that. And the more she talked the more I thought of her Wall Street ties, and of course the Clinton foundation scandals, and all the 'you're dreaming' talk during the primaries."

What he thought of Trump's performance: "The only thing Trump has ever said that I've been forced to agree with is that our trade policies have been disasters for the middle class, and that a woman who claims to be about women's rights shouldn't allow her charity to take money from countries whose human rights records and treatment of women is deplorable. And in no way do I think Trump can fix out trade problems. Ultimately, Trump is an unqualified twisted ball of hate shoved inside an orange peel."

What he plans to do now: "I live in a red state. Kansas is not going to anyone but Trump. I'm actually extremely sad by the number of Kansans I have talked to that support Trump. There's no room for a progressive voter in Kansas. So I'll do what's best for my conscience and just write in Bernie. Either way my vote doesn't count so why compromise?"

"It really bothers me that I can't vote for Hillary. I suppose I'm a feminist and I would love nothing more than to vote for the first female president. But I just can't vote for her."

If he lived in a swing state? "I would probably do what was necessary and vote for Hillary. I would hate myself, but I'd probably do it."

Corynne Jones, therapist, Cleveland, Georgia

Was planning on: Not voting

Now voting for: Hillary Clinton

Photos by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images (left) and Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

Why staying home on Election Day initially seemed like best option: "If you look at [Trump's] history, he's always been shady. From housing discrimination, to terrible business deals, to objectifying women. But I've been no great fan of [Clinton] either."

"They weren't comparable. As she said very succinctly herself last night, she has done much more for others over her professional career while his motives have largely been self-motivated. But she and her husband did enact legislation that have specifically led to the increased mass incarceration of black males. And the whole 'bring them to heel' thing. That disturbs me in a real way."

What she saw in Clinton's answers at the third debate: "I saw a woman who used facts to present her positions. I saw a woman with a plan. I saw a woman willing to learn. I saw a woman willing to reach out and speak to 'the lesser of our brothers' to figure out the best way toward viable solutions. I was also impressed that her closing statements was one of unity. Democrat, Republican. Libertarian, Green. Doesn't matter."

"We are all in this together. This election has brought out the very worst in people and we are going to get nowhere unless we are willing to listen and empathize. She did that repeatedly."

What she saw in Trump's performance: "A clueless man who had no idea how government functions or how laws are made, a man who could not take criticisms and would never admit clear wrongdoings, and a man that so clearly devalues women. The last straw for me was, when asked to make a unifying statement, he came out with that cringe worthy appeal to blacks and Latinos. It's clear he's never asked either group what their actual struggles are."

Why she finds Trump particularly unacceptable, now that she's preparing to be a mom: "By winning the election he would set this country back years upon years for LGBT, women, minorities, and science. It was a scary future. I absolutely could not sit home and call myself a good mother and provide any window for this man to dictate my daughter's future."

Early voting is already open in many states. Here's a handy guide to doing that, if you're among the lucky who can. For the rest of us, be sure to vote on Nov. 8!

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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