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Will you be watching the debate tonight?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will face off in their first debate tonight, Sept. 26. Experts say the most telling moments in debates often come out of the blue, an offhand remark or unrehearsed gesture that helps to reveal the essence of a candidate who’s already been poked, prodded and inspected for years.
Photo by Associated Press.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will face off in their first debate tonight, Sept. 26. Experts say the most telling moments in debates often come out of the blue, an offhand remark or unrehearsed gesture that helps to reveal the essence of a candidate who’s already been poked, prodded and inspected for years.

First presidential debate

WHEN: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Arizona time) today, Sept. 26

TV Channels: The debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among others.

Moderator: Lester Holt, anchor, NBC Nightly News

Location: Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York

INFO: The debate will be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator, who will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Donald Trump needs to prove to voters that he has the policy depth and gravitas to serve as commander in chief. Hillary Clinton needs a moment to connect with Americans who question whether she can be trusted.

In an election year that has upended political convention, the candidates’ best opportunity to conquer their weaknesses will come in the most traditional of campaign forums: Monday’s 90-minute, prime-time debate.

Clinton, Trump buff foreign policy bona fides before debate

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were meeting separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, giving the each candidate fresh bragging rights about their knowledge of foreign policy and readiness to lead the nation on the eve of their first presidential debate.

Trump and Netanyahu discussed "at length" Israel's use of a fence to help secure its borders, an example Trump frequently cites when he's talking about the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico.

"Trump recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism," the campaign said in a statement. "He agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State."

Clinton says a “strong and secure Israel” is vital to the United States. Her comment came after she met with Netanyahu in New York City on Sunday evening.

Clinton’s campaign said in a statement released afterward that she “reaffirmed her unwavering commitment” to the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Clinton also stressed her support for the new military aid agreement reached earlier in September and her commitment to countering efforts to boycott Israel.

Trump met with Netanyahu at his residence in the Trump Tower on Sunday morning, according to Israeli and campaign officials.

Reporters were barred from covering the meetings.

The Israeli leader has sought to project neutrality after perceptions arose in 2012 that he favored Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama.

The Daily Courier asked nine people enjoying a Sunday afternoon at the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott whether they planned to watch tonight’s debate. Most expressed their distaste with the election and were uncertain whether or not to tune in.

Justyna and Kinga Kaznowska, 37-year-old twins visiting from Phoenix, will not be turning on the TV – one works evenings, the other is “not interested.”

“I don’t like either one of them. Trump is not mentally stable. I’m scared to see what happens,” Justyna said. Kinga agreed with her sister.

Mike Nache, 48, from Dewey, wishes he could see the two candidates face off, but he is in rehearsal. “Doggone it. I wanted to watch because I’m unusually undecided at this point. It’s probably the most important election I’m going to vote in.”

A veteran, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he is no longer a registered voter and has lost his faith in the electoral system. “I despise both of them,” he said.

However, one Prescott couple answered, “Of course,” and “Absolutely,” when asked if they will be tuning in. One favors Trump because of his business sense, the other not.

“I need to figure out which one of the two evils will do,” said Beverly Hinton, 75, adding that Trump does not have a political background or experience.

Buck Lechner, 75, the Trump supporter, agreed that the candidate had made some idiotic statements, but by doing so, got the public’s attention. They both agreed that if Trump wins, he will need some good advisors, “and he’ll need to listen to them,” Hinton added.

Both campaigns expect a record-setting television audience for the high-stakes showdown, which could help tip the balance in a tight White House race. Clinton will be the first woman to take the stage in a presidential general election debate. Trump has spent years on Americans’ television screens as a reality show host, but it can still be jarring to see him at politics’ upper echelons.

Sandra Guerguy, 59, a part-time Prescott resident, hopes to hear the candidates discuss important issues. She’s not particularly excited to see someone with no qualifications – “basically an idiot” – debating at a presidential candidate level.

“If I get nauseous, I can stand up and leave the room,” she said.

According to a new Associated Press-Gfk poll, more than 85 percent of likely voters backing Clinton or Trump say their minds are completely made up. At six weeks from Election Day, about 13 percent said they were undecided.

Some people will turn to social media, not televised debates, to help make up their minds. Two of three 20-something young men visiting Prescott don’t own a television set.

All three said they weren’t overly impressed with the candidates. They get their information from online news sources.

A 26-year-old Phoenix mother of two small children also has no TV and won’t be watching. Her friend, 29, said she would catch “bits and pieces” during her children’s bedtime routine.

Trump hasn’t participated in traditional debate preparations. The Republican businessman’s loose approach is potentially risky given that he is new to many policy issues expected to come up during the debate.

But advisers contend he will compensate by being quick on his feet and point to his experience at performing under pressure.

Clinton has spent weeks huddled with a team of advisers, taking full days of the campaign trail to pour through briefing books, practicing to pounce if Trump makes false statements and steeling herself for the possibility that he levels deeply personal attacks.

During a recent television interview, Trump played coy about which approach he planned to take tonight.

“I may be the way I was, and I may be a much different person. I can’t tell you,” he said. “You know what, if I knew, I don’t think I’d tell you, frankly.”

Asked whether Clinton herself planned to call Trump out in the debate if he tries to lie about his past statements, Brian Fallon, Clinton’s campaign spokesman, said, “I don’t think she would let anything like that pass.”

Follow Courier reporter Sue Tone on Twitter @ToneNotes. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2043 or 928-642-7867.

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