3rd presidential debate last chance for fireworks
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.