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America Is Ready For First Presidential Debate Of Fall Campaign

September 26, 2016

I think there is no doubt that today is the most important in this entire presidential campaign.  Tonight Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will take the stage at Hofstra University for the first presidential debate.  And America is ready!

With national and swing state polls showing a tightening race—though larger than normal shares of voters claim to be undecided (which I actually doubt) or considering third-party candidates (which I do believe until we get to the 11th hour and people get serious)—the debate will offer each candidate the opportunity to reintroduce themselves to voters.

There is no way to overstate how crucial this evening is to all concerned.  Between the public’s impressions of what is said, or the tone struck, or the body language used tonight and then how the press will report and analyze that in the days ahead makes this the largest tightrope walk in American politics.

And it is in the first half-hour (remember we are still dealing with a voting public who has a limit to what it can watch and retain) which will move the dial one way or another.  History shows that to be true as Politico reminded us this morning.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate for 90 minutes on Monday. But the winner likely will be determined in the first half-hour. That’s when Al Gore first sighed, Mitt Romney knocked President Obama on his heels, and Marco Rubio, earlier this year, glitched in repeating the same talking point – over and over and over. It’s when Gore tried, unsuccessfully, to invade George W. Bush’s space, Richard Nixon was first caught wiping away sweat with a handkerchief (during the moderators’ introductions!) and Gerald Ford in 1976 made the ill-advised declaration that, ‘There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.'”

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