This is the debate of the century…AND THEY SPELLED HILLARY’S NAME WRONG! This is pretty funny.
— SiriusXMPolitics (@SXMPolitics) September 26, 2016
Cost of WiFi: $200
Cost of SpellCheck: $0pic.twitter.com/NpXUYQVBNK
— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) September 26, 2016
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump face off for the first time on Monday in a high stakes presidential debate that could shift the course of the neck-and-neck 2016 campaign for the White House.
The highly anticipated clash between the Democratic former secretary of state and Republican real estate tycoon has generated wide interest nationally and internationally six weeks before the Nov. 8 election.
Opinion polls show the two candidates in a very tight race, with the latest Reuters/Ipsos polling showing Clinton ahead by 4 percentage points, with 41 percent of likely voters.
The 90-minute debate, set to start at 9 p.m. EDT, could sway undecided and independent voters who have yet to make up their minds as well as voters from both parties who have tuned out the election until now.
A second Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday showed half of America’s likely voters would rely on the debates to help them make their choice. More than half, 61 percent, were hoping for a civil debate and were not interested in the bitterness shown on the campaign trail.
The size of the television-viewing audience is expected to challenge the record of 80 million Americans who watched 1980’s encounter between Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan. Some commentators forecast Super Bowl-sized viewership of about 100 million people.
By contrast with the single-party debates held during the Republican and Democratic state nominating contests, the audience will be asked to remain silent and not applaud or respond to the candidates’ remarks. The debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments.
Clinton won a coin toss and chose to take the first question. She will have two minutes to answer, after which Trump will be given equal time. Trump will then be given the first question at the beginning of the next segment.
The debate, at Hofstra University on New York state’s Long Island, is the first of three planned presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.
With the contest tightening, Wall Street investors grew more jittery on Monday, contributing to a fall in stocks. Some investors see the close race sparking volatility in sectors that include health insurers, drugmakers and industrials.
Both Trump and Clinton, shown in opinion polls to be the least liked White House candidates in modern history, hope to use the debate to erase lingering voter doubts and address campaign-trail weaknesses.
The volatile Trump, a former reality television star, will have an opportunity to show a depth and steadiness worthy of a commander in chief, while the cautious Clinton, a former U.S. senator and first lady, will have a chance to connect directly with voters who view her as too secretive, strategists said.
Trump, a political newcomer who has at times shown more affinity for put-downs than policy, could benefit from lower voter expectations.