Why the First 30 Minutes of Tonight's Debate Matter So Much

It's the most anticipated debate in decades
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2016 4:55 AM CDT
Updated Sep 26, 2016 6:00 AM CDT
Clinton vs. Trump Debate Will Be Most-Watched Ever
A television photographer captures the outside of the debate hall at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.   (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

It's going to be the most-watched presidential debate in American history—and possibly the most controversial. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have their first debate Monday night, and it's expected to draw a Super Bowl-sized audience of around 100 million. The stakes will be even higher than in the WrestleMania event where Trump shaved his vanquished opponent's head: Polls show Clinton and Trump neck and neck, and according to the latest Reuters poll, around 50% of voters say the debate will help them choose. A roundup of coverage:

  • USA Today, which has details such as viewing tips, nicknames the event being held at Hofstra University's David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on Long Island "Smackdown at the Mack." It starts at 9pm EDT and will last 90 minutes.

  • The Boston Globe looks at what makes this debate different from any other. Among other things, it involves a woman versus a man for the first time, and it features two of the most disliked candidates in American history.
  • The Washington Post's debate preview looks at Clinton's preparations—sources say there has been a lot of focus on Trump's personality—and notes that much will depend on whether the "freewheeling showman" Trump shows up or the "sober and scripted" version. Either way, this will be his first one-on-one debate.
  • Jim Newell at Slate lists three ways that he thinks Trump can be beaten in a debate. One tip: "Ask him to explain anything."
  • Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal has some do's and don'ts for Trump. She believes this debate could "give him new momentum toward the White House" if he stays calm—and stays positive.
  • Politico notes that the pressure on both candidates will be at its fiercest in the first 30 minutes, a time in which most debates are won and lost—and when candidates tend to roll out their best one-liners.
(More presidential debate stories.)

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