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Political Headlines

3rd presidential debate last chance for fireworks

Tom Fontaine
| Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, 10:09 p.m.
The podiums are set for the third and final presidential debate between Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican counterpart Donald Trump October 18, 2016, to be held October 19 at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
AFP/Getty Images
The podiums are set for the third and final presidential debate between Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her Republican counterpart Donald Trump October 18, 2016, to be held October 19 at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A banner hangs at the University of Las Vegas site of the last 2016 U.S. presidential debate within sight of hotels on the strip in Las Vegas October 17, 2016.
REUTERS
A banner hangs at the University of Las Vegas site of the last 2016 U.S. presidential debate within sight of hotels on the strip in Las Vegas October 17, 2016.
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pause at the conclusion of their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016.
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pause at the conclusion of their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016.
Christian Ogata (L) and Jennifer Kennedy, who are acting as stand-ins for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, prepare the stage for the presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Getty Images
Christian Ogata (L) and Jennifer Kennedy, who are acting as stand-ins for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, prepare the stage for the presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listen as he speaks during a campaign rally, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listen as he speaks during a campaign rally, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
New American Makia Nunes kisses a cardboard cutout of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clint as volunteers and supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Clinton were on hand outside the Los Angeles Convention Center, to greet and help recruit new voters following their Naturalization Ceremony on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. / AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
New American Makia Nunes kisses a cardboard cutout of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clint as volunteers and supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Clinton were on hand outside the Los Angeles Convention Center, to greet and help recruit new voters following their Naturalization Ceremony on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. / AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Presidential debate scholar Mitchell McKinney has seen enough.

“I can't wait for this thing to be over,” the University of Missouri professor said of this year's series of presidential debates.

It won't be long, professor.

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump square off Wednesday night in the third and final debate. The 90-minute debate will air at 9 p.m. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The first two debates were marked by increasing and unprecedented vitriol, mostly coming from Trump, McKinney said.

“The level of negativity we've seen has been off the charts. This will be the last chance for Trump to really go after Clinton, but I don't know how he could increase his attacks or be any more conflictual,” McKinney said.

McKinney doesn't think “tripling-down” on attack mode will benefit Trump.

“If it's just more of the same, I don't think that will help. The burden is on Trump to try to change the dynamic. He has to do something that might change people's thinking about him,” McKinney said.

RealClearPolitics' average of polling in the race shows Clinton leading Trump by 6.9 percentage points. Trump was within 2 points in several polls released just before the first debate three weeks ago.

While the second debate followed a town-hall format with the candidates fielding questions from moderators and audience members, Wednesday's debate will be broken into six, 15-minute segments on topics including debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and the candidates' fitness to be president, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Chris Wallace of Fox News will be the moderator.

Moon Area High School government and politics teacher Chris D'Eramo said the debates have presented educational challenges. He teaches a ninth-grade U.S. history class and AP history to 12th-graders.

The debates have been required viewing for the 12th-graders, but he has elected not to make it required viewing for the ninth-graders partly because of the subject matter, including discussion of a tape in which Trump bragged about groping women. The AP classes have engaged in their own debates about what they saw — including discussion about whether the candidates should even bother having the third debate.

“These kids want to learn, and they want to be able to talk about policy, so they're a little disheartened about what they've seen. They want more substance,” D'Eramo said. “It is unfortunate some of the language being used, especially for some of these kids who are experiencing this for the first time. But it's the political climate that we're in right now. To shield them from all of this does them a disservice.”

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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