Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to either renegotiate NAFTA or part ways with Mexico, a move that could cause major economic problems for San Diego.
“I am going to renegotiate NAFTA. And if I can’t make a great deal — then we’re going to terminate NAFTA ,” said the Republican nominee in the third and final debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. “And if we can’t…we’re going to go a separate way, because it has been a disaster.”
The 22-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement has led to an integrated economy between Southern California and Mexico.
According to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, NAFTA has resulted in a 290 percent increase in California’s exports to Mexico and nearly 700,000 new jobs.
Though the future of NAFTA is of particular concern to Southern California, the biggest news in the debate was Trump’s refusal to say that he would accept the outcome of the Nov. 8 general election, leaving open the possibility he would challenge it.
“I will tell you at the time, I will keep you in suspense,” Trump said.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton responded: “Let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means: He is denigrating, he is talking down our democracy and I for one am appalled that someone who is the nominee for one of our two major parties would take that position.”
In a fiery debate that centered more on policy than did earlier showdowns, Trump accused Clinton’s campaign of orchestrating a series of accusations by women who said the businessman made unwanted sexual advances against them.
Trump said all of the stories were “totally false” and suggested Clinton was behind the charges. He called her campaign “sleazy.”
“I think they either want fame or her campaign did it, and I think it’s her campaign,” Trump said.
Clinton said the women came forward after Trump said in the last debate he had never made unwanted advances on women. In a 2005 video, Trump was recorded bragging about groping women against their will.
“Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere who doesn’t know what that feels like,” Clinton said.
“This is a pattern. A pattern of divisiveness, of a very dark and in many ways dangerous vision of our country where he incites violence, where he applauds people who are pushing and pulling and punching at his rallies. That is not who America is,” she said.
On immigration, another issue affecting Southern California, Clinton accused Trump of wanting to “rip families apart” by deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants who have 4 million children who are American citizens.
“I don’t want to rip families apart. I don’t want to be sending parents away from children. I don’t want to see the deportation force that Donald has talked about in action in our country,” said Clinton. “Law enforcement officers would be going school to school, home to home, business to business, rounding up people who are undocumented.”
Trump said a wall has to be built to secure the Mexican border, and said criminals must be deported, but offered to make “a determination as to the rest.”
“I want to build the wall. We need the wall,” Trump said. “We have some bad, bad people in this country that have to go out. We’re going to get them out; we’re going to secure the border. And once the border is secured, at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest.”
“But we have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this article.