Why You Need to Watch the Clinton-Trump Debate -- Even If Politics Isn't Your Thing

The first presidential debate is expected to draw a record-breaking number of viewers -- more than 100 million, in fact. Besides the sheer spectacle, there are serious issues at stake, particularly for women and moms. Even on top of that, though, there are reasons this presidential debate is worth watching -- and not all are issue-based.

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Here are our top seven:

  1. The gender card
    This is the first time America will get to see what a woman presidential candidate even looks like in a major debate. And don't kid yourself: This can be tricky territory for both candidates. Will Clinton be able to appear commanding? Will she "smile" enough to satisfy the critics? And will Trump be able to debate Hillary Clinton without trying to demean her like he did in the primaries with jabs like "Little Marco" and "Lyin' Ted," which might make him come off like little more than a school yard bully if used on a woman?

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    There's plenty of bad blood between these two candidates. And the fact that Clinton is a woman will influence how both candidates go after each other on the debate stage. It's just that no one is sure exactly how that's going to play out on live television in front of the entire world.

    No pressure.

  2. Opposites attract audiences

    In a face-off against Clinton and Donald Trump, you have a tale of two extremes. One is eminently qualified for the White House, while another has never held political office. One is a die-hard policy wonk, while the other only likes to give the broadest outlines of policy positions. The one thing both Clinton and Trump have in common is that they're both deeply disliked by sections of the American electorate and both highly controversial. That always makes for exciting television viewing.

  3. The format 

    Tonight's debate from Hofstra will be 90 minutes long and, according to the election commission, cover six specific topics including three selected by debate moderator Lester Holt: America's direction, achieving prosperity, and securing America.

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    There's plenty to cover in those three areas alone. Besides broad strokes and conflicting statements, Trump hasn't provided much detail about his specific plans and policy prescriptions. Will Trump have enough command of the issues to speak for 90 uninterrupted minutes without saying something nuts?

  4. The crowd

    It was announced last week that the Clinton campaign has asked billionaire (and guy who loves to gaslight Trump) Mark Cuban to sit in the front row during the debate in a sort of effort to rattle Trump and try to throw him off his game. Later, Trump said he planned to invite former Bill Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers to the debate to try to shake Clinton. The Trump campaign is now walking back Trump's statement, telling CNN on Monday morning that Flowers was not invited by the campaign to the debate. Either way, it's clear both campaigns are interested in making the crowd a factor, so look out for surprise guests.

  5. Fact check

    By this point in the presidential campaign most Americans are well aware that Trump isn't afraid to make up facts at-will to support his arguments. Should the moderator Lester Holt call Trump on his lies in real time on the debate stage? Or is it up to Clinton alone to hold Trump accountable for the things he says? It's been a raging debate in the days leading up to the first debate and it will be fascinating to watch how influential and vocal Holt will be about fact-checking the candidates, which ultimately could influence the outcome in a big way.

  6. Women's issues

    While the economy and national security are undoubtedly important to all Americans, there are a few issues women -- and mothers in particular -- might want to be tuned in to hear more about from the candidates. Will they provide additional details and contrast their plans to help make childcare more affordable? Which candidate actually has a plan to close the gender pay gap? What about women's health? Women across the country will watch Clinton to see if she will spend more time explaining her plans to help women and if Trump can come up with something that will appeal to the swing state white suburban women he's been desperately trying to court. The Trump campaign has made an effort to attract women over the past several weeks, starting with the hire of new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster tasked with keeping Trump "calm" and helping him better appeal to women.

    Viewers can see for themselves tonight how well she's doing.

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  7. Trump's big debut

    Over Clinton's decades in public life, Americans have seen her debate many times. It's Trump who's the real wild card heading into the first debate. Sure, he participated in the Republican primary debates, but that was in a larger field of competitors that didn't leave Trump with much time to talk, or get himself into trouble. Now the famously short-tempered, short attention–spanned Trump will have to stand and explain himself for 90 long minutes. Will he have the stamina he's bragged so much about to maintain control for an hour and a half? Or will the pressure get to the tough guy and cause him to lash out? 

    That's what everyone is really going to be noshing on popcorn waiting to see. 

Tune in Monday night at 9 p.m. EST for the first presidential debate from Hofstra University.

 

Images via Bruce Cotler/ZUMA Press/Splash News; Shutterstock
Design by Anne Meadows 

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