Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Get Set For Epic Presidential Debate

With record-breaking viewership expected Monday night for the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, few moments could have a bigger impact on who becomes the next president. 

The two candidates took diametrically opposite paths to reach the stage at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York, and will lay out radically different visions for the country. 

The good news for Trump, Republicans say, is that the expectations for his performance are at about rock bottom. While he's been a more disciplined campaigner in recent weeks, he's struggled to stay on message and answer substantive policy questions. He also has never faced the bright spotlight of a one-on-one debate. His campaign, looking to reinforce his underdog image, claims he's eschewing typical debate preparations.

"He doesn't have to be better than Hillary, but he is going to have to show a command of the subject matter beyond just glitzy sound bites in order to pacify some segments of the electorate," Republican consultant Ford O'Connell said.

Read more from Alex Seitz-Wald and Benjy Sarlin at NBC News

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