At last, the moment has arrived: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go mano a mano Monday night in their first presidential debate.
Beyond gender, the contrasts between the two could not be more stark. Trump is a celebrity billionaire and novice politician, light on details, strong on bravado. Clinton is a seasoned public servant – a former first lady, United States senator, and secretary of State – and steeped in 10-point plans.
Trump has never gone one-on-one in a political debate before, while Clinton has appeared in 40 debates overall during her political career. So Clinton should “win” on Monday, right? Not necessarily. Voters are clamoring for change, and if Trump can convince enough voters that he’s presidential material, he could build on his momentum. Polls now show the two in a dead heat.
“For a lot of voters, this will be the first real impression of either candidate,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “So there’s a lot riding on this debate.”
Style points will matter more than what’s actually said, says Mr. O’Connell. “There will be a couple of one-liners that everyone will focus on, but so what?” he says. “His goal is very simple: If you can see him in the Oval afterwards, then he’s done his job. He doesn’t have to do better than Clinton, he just has to be plausible.”