The most highly-anticipated U.S. presidential debate in modern times will pit two of the most controversial presidential nominees against each other on Monday night.
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton will face off in their first presidential debate Monday at 9 p.m., with as many as 100 million people expected to watch — including many in Canada.
Many Canadians are expected to tune into at least part of the 90-minute debate at suburban New York’s Hofstra University — likely because it’s expected to be just as entertaining as informative.
The stakes of Monday night’s debate have been rising for weeks, given Clinton’s now slender lead in the polls and Trump’s unpredictable campaigning. Clinton is holding on to a narrow lead in many polls, although both candidates remain somewhat unpopular (55 per cent unfavourablity for Clinton; 59 per cent for Trump).
Clinton has reportedly spent hours studying Trump’s style, taking notes from opposition research memos and watching highlight reels. Trump, meanwhile, spent Sunday meeting with insiders over “cheeseburgers and soda” to discuss possible talking points.
“I believe you can prep too much for these things,” the billionaire businessman told the New York Times.
Both candidates will have significant ammunition to use on their opponent, as neither have been able to avoid controversy and scandal with over a month left in the campaign. Analysts point to Clinton’s option to bring up Trump’s embrace by white supremacists, Trump Univerity scam charges, and his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin as reasons not to consider voting for the controversial businessman. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted Saturday that he might extend a debate invitation to Gennifer Flowers, who once had an affair with Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton.
While Clinton has experience, it’s unknown if she will stumble over Trump’s unpredictability. The former secretary of state has more than 30 presidential debates under her belt — including several one-on-one showdowns with President Barack Obama in 2008 and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016. Analysts have pointed to “at least two” different “versions” of Trump that could appear on stage. Aaron Kall, the director of debate at the University of Michigan and editor of the e-book Debating Trump, points to both a “cantankerous Trump” that appeared during Republican primaries and a “presidential Trump” that brought a less-aggressive style to the last Republican debate in Miami.
NBC’s Lester Holt will host the debate, which can be viewed at AM980.ca. It will be divided into six segments of about 15 minutes each. Each candidate will have 15 minutes to respond to a question before debating the opponent.