Updates to this post appear at the top. Original post below.

10:40: Who won that debate? I went back and forth with a few friends on Twitter over that question. The default answer is that supporters of both candidates will claim that they did. But if anyone was waiting for Trump to crumble under the onslaught it never happened. I’m sure many will say that he was too aggressive, and perhaps some voters will take that away. But he wasn’t bailing out of anything. For her part, Clinton never really melted down either. She was getting hammered pretty hard by both Trump and some of the questions, but she stood in there and took it and kept swinging. Trump needed a good night and my blurry impression after this feisty show is that he had one, but there wasn’t a knockout blow struck on either side. I’ll sleep on it and probably have more tomorrow.

10:30: In the closing moments, Trump seemed to do pretty well on the Supreme Court question and actually got Clinton to say she supports the Second Amendment. That was a rather surreal moment. They moved from there into an energy question which Trump was well prepared for. Clinton had to walk a tightrope there for her green energy backers, but it didn’t do much for the guy asking about not putting fossil fuel workers out on the streets.

10:10: I marked this time stamp because it’s of great interest. At this moment, debate moderator Martha Raddatz answered one of Trump’s questions and began debating him by on Syria and our military strategy by saying, “Sometimes there are reasons the military has to do that.” So rather than waiting for Clinton to argue the point, she decided to do it for her.

10:08: Somebody has been doing the counting of how often the moderators (particularly Martha) are interrupting the candidates. As of this point, they’ve interrupted Trump 14 times, Clinton just 3 times.

9:57: I have no idea how this is going to play in the heartland, but Trump has pegged the aggression meter in going after Clinton. To her credit, she’s not gotten excessively flustered, but a lot of the answers from both of them are meandering so far from the original questions it’s difficult to judge. Oh, and this just popped up in my Twitter timeline.

9:50: Martha asked Clinton about her leaked Wall Street speeches and actually used the phrase “is it okay to be two faced.” Hillary took it in stride (obviously had been memorizing this one) and blamed her “two positions” comments on watching a movie about Lincoln. Frankly I didn’t understand where she went from there. Trump’s response was as inflammatory as the rest. One observation on the second half hour of this show is that Trump probably read the book on how politicians normally conduct debates. He has now ripped that book up and set the pieces on fire. I’ve lost track of how many times Trump has called Clinton a liar.

9:34: The Obamacare discussion was the first time I remember Hillary Clinton being pinned down to say that costs were unaffordable and it has to be fixed. Trump calls for scrapping it an introducing a new system. Trump accused her of wanting to shift to single payer. This is a terrible subject for Clinton.

9:27: We moved onto the emails and Trump is unloading on her. Trump actually uses the phrase, “because you’d be in jail” when Hillary Clinton says it’s a good thing Trump isn’t running the country. Trump finishes attacking Clinton he goes after Anderson Cooper.

9:20: It took a while to get through the tape discussion. Hillary really went at it hard, but Trump stuck to his “locker room talk” answer and then deflected. Hard to say who won that round. But when they moved to the next stage, Trump announced he would get a special prosecutor to go after Clinton. This. Is. War.

9:10: The first audience member asks a generic question on conduct and Cooper jumps on that to bring up the tape. Trump says Cooper didn’t understand locker room talk and there was no assault. Moves on to talk about ISIS. Anderson Cooper keeps trying to hammer him on the tape. Oddly enough, Trump seemed to slip out of it.

9:07: Right out of the gate… I suppose we’ll just do away with the handshakes.

9:02: One final thought before we begin… Tonight’s theme: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken

8:10: We’re still a ways from the actual debate, but Trump kicked things off by holding a press conference with four of the women Bill Clinton is accused of sexually assaulting. This prompted the following observation from NBC’s Chuck Todd:

Just as a side note to Chuck, I’m not sure Trump ever expressed any interest in showing “contrition” or that his followers were much looking for it either.

Original Post

At the conclusion of Donald Trump’s 90 second apology video this weekend he finished up by saying, “See you at the debate on Sunday.” Well… it’s Sunday. Supposedly the big questions will be answered now and let’s admit it… policy arguments may just be out the window. The media is waiting for the Access Hollywood video to be brought out and bashed over Trump’s head. NBC News is predicting a NSFW event.

Parents with small children may want to consider putting them to bed before Sunday’s presidential debate, which seems certain to devolve into a TV-MA grudge of reciprocal sexual assault allegations.

The release of hot mic audio from a Trump appearance on Access Hollywood in 2005 could not have come at worse time for his debate preparation. Virtually the entire Republican Party spent Saturday racing to condemn Trump, who had to fight off questions about dropping out of the race while holed up in Trump Tower.

Already volcanic and unpredictable, and stinging from a flubbed first debate performance, Trump now walks onto the stage at Washington University with an open wound and an apparent desire to lash out at Hillary Clinton.

So what are we expecting from each of the candidates? On Face the Nation this morning, Nancy Cordes said she’s spoken to people in the Clinton campaign who told her that Hillary has been waiting to address the video until she was “standing next to him” on a stage with most of the nation watching and will hit the topic early. She put that out on Twitter as well.

Here’s an interesting question to ponder right up front: if this is a town hall style event where viewers will be asking many of the questions and the candidates are supposed to be answering spontaneously, how does Clinton know she’ll be hitting it early? If the first question is about TPP, what’s she going to say? “I plan on making better deals than that as president. And speaking of deals, what’s the deal with this guy grabbing all the p***y!?!?!”

So what will The Donald do? If he’s smart, as I wrote this morning, he’ll repeat that the comments were ill conceived and remind everyone that he’s already apologized for them. At that point he can sit back and wait to see if Hillary and/or the moderators overplay their hand and keep trying to go back to the well on it. If he’s given the opening to pivot the conversation he’d be smart to immediately swing to something along the lines of Clinton’s call for “open trade and open borders” in her speech to a banking audience, revealed in the last Wikileaks dump. If he goes after Bill he’s only leaving the door open for more he said, she said stuff on sexual misconduct.

We’ll know soon enough. I’ll be adding updates at the top, most recent first, along with the rest of the writers here if they care to chip in. And those of you following along can bust out your own observations in the comments. Break out the popcorn folks, because this might just be one for the record books.

catgrabbing