9 p.m. ET on MSNBC. “For the second presidential debate in a row, Hillary Rodham Clinton can expect to be everyone’s punching bag,” writes the AP, which is reason enough to watch. Obama’s been promising to go on the offensive; if he ducks her this time, his supporters will be exasperated and the perception will be that he’s soft. What’s more interesting is how she fends him off. Does she play the damsel in distress by intoning about how his campaign is supposed to be about hope, not attacks? Or does she surprise everyone by showing a little steel for the fence-sitters leery of a woman as C-in-C and go on the offensive herself by nailing him on his “semi-gay” semi-celebrity supporter, Donnie McClurkin? That would be a shrewd, easy way to get to his left on a hot-button issue for the benefit of the base.

If you’re watching, you know what to do. E-mail us if you see something clipworthy, please.

Update: Something to chew on while you wait.

So I was down in DC this past weekend and happened to run into a well-connected media person, who told me flatly, unequivocally that “everyone knows” The LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate. “Everyone knows” meaning everyone in the DC mainstream media political reporting world. “Sitting on it” because the paper couldn’t decide the complex ethics of whether and when to run it. The way I heard it they’d had it for a while but don’t know what to do. The person who told me )not an LAT person) knows I write and didn’t say “don’t write about this”.

More (Bryan): Chris Roberts, a frequent commenter here at Hot Air, is on the scene at Drexel U and is liveblogging the debate. He’s sitting a couple of rows in front of The New Republic’s rep, fwiw. I asked him to ask TNR why Franklin Foer never returns my phone calls.

Update: Hi, I’m Bill Richardson and I’d really, really like to be Hillary’s vice president.

Update: Obama’s best Hillary-themed answer of the night. The bit at the end when he addresses her directly made me sit up and take notice. He and Silky are right, too.

Tags: Barack Obama