When the lights go on and the cameras start rolling on Monday night at 9:00 PM at Hofstra University, the ultimate battle will begin to unfold. For over a year, the presidential campaign has been heating up. Many expect this debate to reach a boiling point. Lester Holt, of NBC, will handle the questioning as the moderator for what promises to be 90 minutes straight of name-calling, lie-detecting and personal-attacking fun! Trump and Clinton were the only two candidates to meet the qualifications to participate in the debate. Little information about the debate topics has been released except for three vague concepts: “America’s Direction”, “Achieving Prosperity” and “Securing America”. Each one will occupy 30 minutes, or a third of the debate. Each of the candidates have different things to worry about in this debate. Here is my take.
Nobody will dispute the fact that Secretary Clinton has a wide-ranging knowledge of all of the policy issues. However, many will argue that she struggles to connect with voters. In a debate format, both of these skills are of the utmost importance. The way I see it, the winner of this specific debate will not be decided based on who has the most interesting way of cutting taxes. Instead, voters want to hear somebody who speaks to them. Plus, while it may be smart for Clinton to attack Trump on their disagreements, she cannot spend a majority of the debate doing so. When voters enter the ballot box in November, “Not Trump” is not an option. Clinton needs to show voters why she is the right person for the job, without excessively turning towards Obama, Bill or attack lines against Trump to make that point. If Secretary Clinton has a quick, concise answer to the question about her use of a private email server and a defining one-liner in which she makes it clear that she is the best candidate, I can see her winning.
On the other hand, it is hard to attack Trump’s skill as a communicator with the voters. Yet, it is much easier to attack his lack of policy knowledge. Like Clinton, he needs to find a balance of attacking his opponent and showing that he has learned enough about important policy issues in the last year or so. Mr. Trump rightfully points out that he defeated 16 other candidates in the Republican primary by being declared the winner of virtually all of the debates. He turned to personal attacks in the primary, which can be very effective, but only during the primary. During this general election debate, Trump will be speaking to a different, larger audience. It WAS a big deal when Fox News set the record for the most viewers in a primary election debate earlier in this election. Trump took credit for the 24 million people that tuned in that night. Well, fast forward a while, and Monday night’s debate is expected to bring in AT LEAST 80 million viewers. That is a significant difference. An influx of people who are perhaps tuning in to the election for the first time, should force Trump to change his strategy. He needs to survive the tough policy questions regarding ISIS and income inequality without making any major blunders or resorting to personal attacks too much. If Trump can do this, he can be the winner of this debate.
I don’t know about you, but I am very excited for these candidates to finally take each other on, 1-on-1, face-to-face on live television in front of upwards of 80 million voters. This debate can be watched on almost any network, Monday night at 9:00 PM. So when the lights go on and the cameras start rolling, TUNE IN!