So tonight marks the final debate of the 2016 Presidential election cycle. While I had briefly touched upon this a couple days ago it seems right to note it here.
I still have no idea what to expect. Normally, when a campaign has been spiraling in the way GOP candidate Donald Trump's has then odds would be it's pretty much over and his opponent would win. However, as we all have noted (hell, it's been burned in our memories at this point) it is not a normal election cycle. It's still somewhere between likely and very likely that Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will win on November 8th. Still, wrenches could be thrown into the works to change things.
For Trump he's literally in a situation where he has nothing left to lose. It is true that some people have come back from that position and emerged triumphant (it's a trope in many popular movies in this country - almost to the point of cliche), Trump is hampered by behavior that is best described as erratic. From attacking his own party to suggesting that his rival may be used performance enhancing drugs at the last debate, he has made statements that may excite his base but do little to ensure those few undecided voters or those who support him but are increasingly wary, especially since the leaked Access Hollywood hot mic tape. Add to this his hyping that the election is rigged by everyone from Clinton to the "crooked media" including Saturday Night Live and you have an idea where Trump is coming from.
Which leads to tonight. At a time when he needs to win the debate (or at the very least take advantage of the extremely lowered standards for him and not lose) he has decided to publicize that he invited as guest the mother of one of the marines killed in Benghazi and Malik Obama, President Obama's half brother who lives in Kenya yet has dual citizenship here and is supporting Trump for some reason. I get the reason for the former given that the women he invited has repeated criticized and attacked Clinton for her son's death but there appears to be no rhyme or reason for inviting the President's half brother.
As for Secretary Clinton, she's been busy preparing and is likely going to continue to the extent she can of not going into Donald's gutter. However, she also has the revelations of the leaked e-mails to deal with. If they had been leaked in the primary they could've done more damage and possibly put Bernie Sanders likely in the nominee role. They were leaked one month before the election though and with the leak of Trump's hot mic tape, it seems so much smaller as a scandal for a lot of Americans.
A friend of mine just sent me a message regarding Trump's request for them to take drug tests before the third debate. Part of him felt this could be Trump triangulating as a way to get Clinton to say something on drug policy that would disgust millennials. Both him and I hope my friend is wrong on that. I'll add to that, if the ghostwriter of Trump's the art of the deal tony Schwartz is to be believed, it appears that Trump is giving a tell about himself more than anyone else. I could be wrong on this though.
What Hillary Clinton does have in common with Trump for tonight is one thing - she cannot afford to lose this debate. While third debates often do little to change people's minds the fact it's not a normal election cycle means that this could change things. This is really the one thing they have in common but it may be important.
So what will happen tonight? I have no idea. However, given that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News has said basically that it wasn't his role to fact check, it could be a scary ride. Will it be a game changer? I doubt it but it could take Trump back to the margin of error that his team needs (and reliving the Clinton scandals of the 90s isn't helping with). Regardless it will be a scary ride.