Pressure on Clinton, Trump in first debate
WHO is going to win? Who is going to choke? The pressure is intense for Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton – phenomenally different candidates –who clash in their first debate today.
Stakes are as high as they get since there are just six weeks until the November 8 election. Polls show a close race, with Ms Clinton, 68, enjoying an edge.
Many analysts say debates usually don’t win a candidate the election but can well lose it for them. A single sentence, or the slightest slip, can do serious damage.
Plenty of American voters will have made a decision by now, to be sure. Most have.
But 9 percent by some estimates still don’t know who to vote for, after a campaign in which bitter attacks have often replaced substance.
And this year has been like none in the past, with Mr Trump, 70, using social media around the clock in combative fashion, while often making mistakes, mis-statements and blunders without troubling his base.
The respected New York Times has endorsed Ms Clinton, who ahead of the debates has been cloistered with aides at home in Chappaqua, New York, even practicing with relatives playing Mr Trump.
She has been focusing on his psychological profile, with a goal to get Mr Trump to crack, to show that he can’t control himself and lacks the temperament a president needs.
If he reacts by attacking, Mr Trump also risks losing women’s votes; he already has a harder time with women voters, and they make up 53pc of those who turn out. And any slip is sure to be a TV news sound bite.
Supporters have said they hope Mr Trump will keep his cool.
Ms Clinton, making her second presidential bid, is an old hand at debates and is considered solid.
But 65pc say they do not find her honest. And 52pc have a negative opinion of a woman they see as cerebral, distant or cold.
Mr Trump is still perceived more negatively than Ms Clinton: 61pc of Americans have negative view of him, many saying they are put off by his personality and aggressiveness. –