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FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 26, 2016

Face-to-face: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spar Monday in the first of three debates

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Look for an opinion column, editorial cartoon or other commentary about the debate. Summarize the viewpoint.
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Share a colorful quote from presidential campaign coverage.
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Read about a local candidate or political office-holder and tell why she or he is in the news.

Millions of TV viewers will watch 90 minutes of high-stakes drama Monday night as the Democratic woman and Republican man running for president meet on a debate stage in the first of three fall debates. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will answer question from NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt at Hofstra University on Long Island, N.Y. In a preview this month, the two candidates spoke separately at a televised forum. Its host, Matt Lauer of NBC's Today Show, was widely criticized for tossing softball questions to Trump, for not challenging his false claims and for spending lots of time asking Clinton about a past email controversy. The morning show broadcaster used 13 minutes of a half-hour Clinton segment to discuss her use of a private email account as secretary of state.

“I look forward to the debates,” Trump says. “I think it is an important element of what we’re doing.” The prime-time events are a chance for him to “pass the commander-in-chief test,” says Howard Kurtz, a Fox News media commentator. "If he's reasonably serious, he doesn't call her 'crooked Hillary' and speaks in complete sentences, he could beat the expectations game we all like to play." For her part, Clinton's challenges include projecting warmth, sincerity and humility.

A huge global audience is sure to tune in Monday. Four years ago, 67 million people watched the first debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama in 2012. The biggest first-round debate. Audience was measured in fall 1980, when 81 million tuned in to see then-President Jimmy Carter face Ronald Reagan – long before cable news and social media.

The two candidates debate again Oct. 9 at Washington University in Saint Louis, where two TV journalists – Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN – will do the questioning. Their last debate comes 10 days after that at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News. The vice presidential running mates, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, debate Oct. 4. CBS News reporter Elaine Quijano is the moderator at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

Upcoming moderator says: "I view it as kind of being a referee in a heavyweight championship fight. . . . I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that." – Chris Wallace of Fox News, presiding at Oct. 19 debate

Past moderator says: "Somebody is going to be unhappy no matter what you do." – Candy Crowley of CNN, who moderated 2012 debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama

Columnist says: "Millions of Americans – the ones with normal lives – don't really start paying attention to presidential campaigns until the first televised presidential debate. . . . First debates are always the most important." – Jack Lessenberry, Detroit Metro Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2016
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