After the third and final presidential debate, the two candidates will have three weeks to convince the American electorate to send them to the White House, but this will probably be the last chance for voters to see them interact with each other.
As both camps hope for the best and prepare for the worst, here’s a look at what viewers can expect.
Six topics, no bathroom breaks
Don’t expect feathered headdresses or Celine Dion. This debate, like the previous two presidential match-ups, will likely be an understated affair in spite of the fact that it’s being broadcast from Las Vegas.
The debate, which Global News will be streaming live, is expected to start at 9 p.m. ET, and will last 90 minutes. It will be moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.
There are no scheduled breaks or commercial interruptions, with the debate format calling for six, 15-minute time segments, each dealing with a different topic.
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The topics have been pre-selected by Wallace, and will reportedly include immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, debt and entitlements, foreign policy, and — arguably the big one — “fitness to be president.”
Wallace will be tackling these in any order he wishes, notes the Commission on Presidential Debates, and he could even pull a last-minute switch when it comes to topics, “because of news developments.”
There have certainly been enough of those over the past two weeks, with Clinton facing new Wikileaks email revelations and Trump trying to deflect an ever-growing number of sexual assault allegations.
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For Trump, this debate could either push him back into something resembling contention, or be the final nail in his campaign’s coffin. After rallying to a near-tie with Clinton in September’s national polls, the Republican candidate has seen his numbers drop steadily since the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.
A series of attacks on a former beauty pageant contestant and the release of a tape in which Trump brags about kissing and groping women may have compounded this negative trend. There are now indications that he will use the debate to double-down on attacks against Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, in an effort to deflect some of the negative press.
Bloomberg Politics recently quoted Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon saying that “we’re going to turn (Bill Clinton) into Bill Cosby.”
Trump’s other main line of attack this week, which he may use in the debate to rally his supporters, has focused on the fairness of the election itself. He has repeatedly suggested that the race has been rigged in Clinton’s favour.
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Meanwhile, as of Tuesday, Clinton was surging steadily ahead in the polls. The New York Times is now predicting she has a 92 per cent chance of being elected president.
That has led some observers to conclude that with a comfortable lead, she may attempt to strike a more positive tone in the final debate an an effort to draw in voters who are turned off by all the recent the mud-slinging.