Normally we pre-game these things by talking strategy. What “strategy” is left for Trump to employ, though? What can he say tonight that’s going to change the game? The most ominous thing about the last debate was that his performance improved from the first one, Clinton was mediocre by all accounts, and she still won handily in the scientific polls afterward. It may be that some critical mass of voters has stopped taking him seriously, which means there’s nothing short of Clinton fainting again that might move the needle. I think his best play is to surprise everyone by going out there and sticking firmly to issues. Talk about term limits and ethical reform, talk immigration and crime committed by illegal aliens, talk about Clinton’s emails and her coziness with Wall Street in the Wikileaks revelations, and drive home the idea, as he once memorably put it, that nothing will change if you vote for her. Instead, he’s going to get sidetracked with the “Access Hollywood” tape and the sexual-assault allegations against him, and he’ll probably try to turn that around on Bill Clinton, and it’ll do nothing for him just like it did nothing at the second debate. His biggest liability by far is that he’s seen as not qualified for the office, especially in terms of his temperament. Logically, then, the best thing he could do to help himself would be to show composure, not take any bait, and drill down on Clinton’s corruption. But like I say, it’s probably too late for that. People have been watching him hourly on cable news for 16 months. One good 90-minute display isn’t going to move eight percent in the polls.
The alternative is that he goes out there and sets everything on fire. As of late this afternoon, news is circulating on Twitter that Leslie Millwee, the reporter who came forward to Breitbart about Bill Clinton’s assaults on her, will be at the debate. Danney Williams, who claims to be Clinton’s son via an affair and whom Drudge has been plugging endlessly for the last few weeks, is also in Vegas today to announce that he’s filing a paternity suit against Clinton. Whether he’ll be at the debate is unclear, but Sarah Palin’s apparently going to be there and Trump’s already announced that Obama’s half-brother will also be his guest in attendance — for what purpose, I have no idea. If Juanita Broaddrick’s account of what Bill Clinton did to her isn’t enough to drive voters away from Hillary, virtually nothing scandal-related will be. Maybe there is no “strategy” tonight beyond simply trying to rattle Hillary in various ways as a form of fan service. If Team Trump believes the race is over, Trump might as well make his base happy by goofing on Clinton in ways that other Republicans would avoid. Reminding them that he’s a “fighter” won’t win an election but it might cement an audience for TrumpTV next year. We’ll see. As for why Clinton decided to show up tonight given how little she has to gain from it, I don’t know. Probably she feels that she needs to show she’s a “fighter” too.
Here’s your Twitter widget for live reaction throughout the debate from the Hot Air and Townhall staffs. Ed will have a separate thread up for live commentary elsewhere on the site. Exit question from the Republican nominee, commenting on the Democratic nominee in 2008: “I think she is going to go down at a minimum as a great senator. I think she is a great wife to a president. And I think Bill Clinton was a great president.”