Clinton vs. Trump on the Debate Stage
By: Bill O'ReillySeptember 26, 2016
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Let's set it up: 90-minute debate, six 15-minute segments, it should get underway about one hour from now.

The three general topics: America's direction, achieving prosperity, securing America.

Obviously, those are very general, so anything could happen.

Hillary Clinton won the coin toss, so Lester Holt's first question will go to her.

The same question will then be asked to Donald Trump.

Each candidate will have two minutes to answer the initial question, then the other candidate will have two minutes to respond.

So it's a back and forth.

There will be no opening or closing statements.

Now I like the format, but it kind of takes Mr. Holt out of things.

So if a candidate does not tell the truth, it is up to the other candidate to call him or her out because Holt will most likely not interrupt while Trump and Clinton are speaking.

I predict a bit of chaos with the back and forth and that might be entertaining.

Hillary Clinton has the advantage.  She has done these one-on-one debates before, most notably with Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump has had debate experience only with a bunch of other people on stage.  It's a lot more difficult one-on-one.

Also, Hillary Clinton is much more versed in policy, she can razzle-dazzle with facts and figures.

Donald Trump is more of a generalist, a big-picture guy, so when it comes to specifics we can expect more from Hillary Clinton.

But Talking Points believes that might not matter very much because demeanor, the way the candidates handle themselves, will be what many Americans are watching.

Example: It would be unwise for Donald Trump to make faces, as he sometimes did in the Republican debates.

Also, it would be a mistake for Mrs. Clinton to sound shrill or to call Trump names.  That would erode her status as a public figure.

Both candidates have been heavily coached and will come armed with some one-liners, but there should be caution here.

As we saw over the weekend after the Clinton crew invited Mark Cuban to sit in the front row just to tweak Trump, he responded with an alleged invitation to Gennifer Flowers.

So right away the presidential debate got into the World Wrestling Federation mode.

Fortunately Ms. Flowers will not be attending, so the circus is on hold for the moment.

And yes, Hillary Clinton started it, there's no doubt.

But again Americans want authoritative problem solvers, not foolish games.

The demeanor factor is extremely important in this debate.

In 1960 then Vice President Richard Nixon basically lost the election because he looked bad at the debate - dour, sweaty and tense.

By contrast, the young senator from Massachusetts John F. Kennedy -- whom Americans did not really know -- came across as vibrant and very human.

1960

JOHN F. KENNEDY: "I think Mr. Nixon is an effective leader of his party.  I hope he would grant me the same.  The question before us is, what point of view and which party do we want to lead the United States?"

MODERATOR: "Mr. Nixon, would you like to comment on that statement?"

RICHARD NIXON: "I have no comment."

And that was it for Nixon, although the election was very close.

Nixon of course won the presidency eight years later, but he should have won in 1960.

And then there are the one-liners:

1984

RONALD REAGAN: "I will not make age an issue in this campaign.  I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

That witty line turned things around for Ronald Reagan, who had lost the first debate to Walter Mondale but made a comeback in the second.

From then on there was no stopping President Reagan's re-election campaign in 1984.

In 1988 there was a vice presidential debate between Dan Quayle and Senator Lloyd Bentsen, a Democrat.

DAN QUAYLE (1988 GOP VP NOMINEE): "I have as much congressional experience as John Kennedy had when he ran for president."

SENATOR LLOYD BENTSEN (1988 DEMOCRATIC VP NOMINEE): "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy.  I knew Jack Kennedy.  Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.  Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Now that line was not enough to elect Bentsen's running mate Michael Dukakis.

Why because the governor himself blew it:

MODERATOR: "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?"

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D-MA): "No, I don't and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life."

That answer from Dukakis painted him as insensitive to his own wife and hurt him dramatically.

Finally, if presidential candidates get their facts wrong in a big debate you've got trouble.

MODERATOR: "Mr. President, I would like to explore more deeply our relationship with the Russians.  Our allies in France and Germany are now flirting with communism."

((EDIT))

GERALD FORD: "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration."

That blunder by President Ford pretty much gave the election to Jimmy carter in 1976.

Now back to tonight.  The polls are pretty much a dead heat going into the big show.

That's kind of shocking because many pundits believed Hillary Clinton would easily roll over Donald Trump.

If Mr. Trump stands his ground tonight, Secretary Clinton could be in major trouble.

I was in Colorado over the weekend and polls there say the race is tied.

If Colorado goes for Trump, he's the next president.

Same thing in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

On Friday we told you that North Carolina will now go to Trump because of all the racial unrest.

Social disorder always drives voters to the more authoritarian candidate.

So finally what's my prediction?  As Mr. T once said in a Rocky movie: pain.

Both candidates no matter what they do will get smashed by the opposition.

No matter how good Donald Trump performs, the press will say he blew it.

No matter how astute Hillary Clinton may be, those who dislike her will continue to dislike her.

It's not like anybody will be going to Disney World.

And that's the memo.