The debate that will change the world for the next four years takes place Monday night. Rarely have two candidates displayed such different visions for the future in terms of security, economic policy, social issues, and immigration, not to mention the composition of the Supreme Court for a generation.
So who is likely to win? Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?
Most believe Hillary Clinton will win the substantive debate on issues because of her lifelong work on political issues, but don't tell Al Gore that. Equally, back in 2000 he seemed to win easily on substance, but what people noticed were his exasperated and ill-timed sighs when Bush was speaking. He lost.
So style and how you handle yourself is critical. George Bush Snr looking at his watch when debating Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in 1992 was a critical faux pas that seemed to show him as disinterested and wanting it over. His rambling answer after looking at his watch seemed to confirm that. He lost too.
So who will win on Monday night?
Here are the top five positives and negatives about both candidates.
1. Speaks in easily digested sentences, able to get his point across in plain and simple language “Build that Wall”, “Make America Great again”. Can you name even one memorable Hillary quote?
2. Incredibly comfortable on camera. Twenty years of “The Apprentice” has made him utterly at ease and a master of body language. (Just recall how much more comfortable he looked with Matt Lauer than she did.)
3. Unafraid to throw the kitchen sink. Has reached new levels in attack dog ability. Hillary must know nothing is off the table, not Monica, not fainting fit, nada.
4. Quick on his feet. Able to slide home. Often, issues he knows little about are introduced but in the main he manages to get by to the epic frustration of opponents (see Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz).
5. Will physically loom larger on stage, can look quite presidential, plays the role well...when he’s on script.
1. Not a career politician and does not do detail well. Did not matter so much when there were 15 other opponents, but there will be long lonely stretches when he's on his own in the one on one debates.
2. Undisciplined. Television is a cool medium and Trump can be taken out of his game like when he abandons his teleprompter and rants about some issue that has suddenly entered his head.
3. Has no experience on such a massive stage with the presidency on the line. Clinton, on the other hand, has been in the crucible many times before, when her husband was running or on her own own in 2008. Will be far more familiar with the frantic atmosphere.
4. Foreign policy issues. Trump has ducked and dived on Putin, Syria, Muslims, etc. Clinton will focus like a radar beam on these issues forcing him to either betray his lack of knowledge or surprise everybody.
5. Is facing a woman which is a first for a presidential candidate. Hillary destroyed her Republican opponent Rick Lazio in her 2000 US Senate race when he seemed to threaten her by walking from his podium to hers appearing to bully her.
1. Experience, experience, experience. She has been on this kind of stage before and held her own with Barack Obama, probably the best debater of the modern era and defeated Bernie Sanders, a tough opponent running with a huge head of steam behind him. Don’t forget Benghazi hearing where she outlasted a cabal of congressmen.
2. Has the “A” team in her corner, President Bill Clinton, a master of the telling phrase, Joe Biden who demolished Paul Ryan in his VP debate, Obama who needs her to win for his legacy to be intact and Michelle Obama who delivered the best remarks of the Democratic Convention.
3. Grasp of issues far better than Trump’s. She is a former First Lady, Secretary of State,US senator hardly a corner of the policy world she has not inhabited at some point. If it becomes a policy debate as against a personal back and forth exercise she should win.
4. Cool and lawyerly under pressure. She will not get over excited and also far less likely to commit a damaging gaffe than her often hot-headed opponent.
5. Her appearance alone will make millions aware of what they already know but are perhaps not fully grasping. After 240 or so years America is within an ace of electing it;s first woman president, an incredible achievement for her.
1. Not the greatest speaker, often hoarse and can shout. She has to be very controlled like she was during Benghazi hearings, flicking lint off her jacket at one point.
2. Policy wonk who can get bogged down in detail where Trump can reduce an issue to a clever catch phrase.
3. Pitches her responses too intellectually. Atlantic Monthly noted Trump uses simple but understandable language at 4th grade comprehension, Clinton at college age, uses words like “pedagogic” which would puzzle many viewers.
4. The ultimate insider in an outsider’s year. Clinton has been on national stage since 1990 and Bill’s first run. Needs to somehow freshen up her image during debate.
5. Widely expected to win, so Trump could claim victory if he doesn't stumble too much. Hilary however, has to be pitch perfect.
There you have it. Let the great debate begin!