High Stakes in First US Presidential Debate

Washington, – With the latest polls showing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a virtual tie to become the next president of the United States, the first of two head-to-head debates on Monday night is being seen as crucial for either candidate to pull ahead towards the November 8 finish line.

Given the vicious tone of the campaign so far, fireworks are expected when Clinton and Trump step onto the same stage as candidates for the first time at Hofstra University in New York at 9 pm local time.

Past polls have shown that many American voters do not pay attention to presidential campaigns until the final weeks before the election and only when the debates begin. Television executives are projecting a TV audience of as much as 100 million people on Monday night.

The temperament of the candidates has been an issue in the campaign and will be on display for 90 minutes as they take questions from the moderator. Clinton has tried to project a calm, steady approach, while Trump has maintained a boisterous, even bombastic demeanor.

Trump may not want to attack Clinton too hard to leave the impression that he is a hothead unsuited for the White House. Clinton may well want to provoke Trump into losing his cool.

But the debate could come down to substance and not just style as undecided voters try to distinguish between the two most disliked major candidates in recent American political history.

The most contentious issues are likely to be immigration, relations with Russia, combatting terrorism, defeating Daesh, the economy, taxes, gun ownership and police violence.

It could also become personal as Trump has in the past brought up the marital infidelities of Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and Trump has has had a playboy past and two divorces that could become fair game for Clinton.

Both candidates bring a huge amount of baggage with them into the debate, with questions about Clinton’s health, her use of private email to store classified data and her use of her family’s foundation to buy loyalty. Trump’s finances, corruption allegations about his foundation and university, his racially-tinged remarks and violence at his rallies could leave him vulnerable to attack.

In other words, both candidates have plenty of material to rip each other apart in what might be the most dramatic presidential debate in years.

Source: Qatar News Agency