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 on Monday.
Stakes are as high as they get since there are just six weeks until the November 8 election. Polls show a close race, with Clinton, 68, enjoying an edge.
As many as 90 million Americans, some estimate, will be glued to their television to catch the showdown.
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 nine percent by some estimates still don’t know who to vote for, after a long campaign in which bitter attacks have often replaced substance.
And this year has been like none in the past, with Trump, 70, using social media around the clock in combative fashion, while often making mistakes, misstatements and blunders without troubling his base.