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Everything You Need To Know About The First 2016 Presidential Debate

You may have missed Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon, but tonight you have a chance to see another historic debate – Trump versus Clinton.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. This is MUST watch television. That’s an over-used term, but tonight’s debate will be what everyone is talking about tomorrow. The people who predict these sorts of things say upwards of 100 million people will watch the debate, which will take place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

2. It will be hard to miss. The debate airs at 9pm ET on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and C-SPAN. Don’t have broadcast TV? No problem! You can stream the action live on Facebook or If you will be in the car, most every news or talk radio station in America will be carrying the audio.

3. Topic, please. Tonight’s debate will focus on three issues: “America’s direction,” “achieving prosperity,” and “securing America.” The 90-minute debate will be broken into six 15-minute segments with two segments devoted to each of the topics. NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt is your moderator.

4. It’s a moneymaker. While the 90-minute debate will be ad-free, networks are selling ads like crazy before/after the event. CBS is reportedly asking $200,000 to $225,000 for 30-second spots in its post-debate coverage. Fox News says it expects a “multi-million dollar night.”

5. It’s not all about facts. Political scholars say we watch the debates for important intangibles, like whether a candidate seems “presidential.” So, mastery of facts and policy doesn’t always win. With Trump and Clinton virtually tied in many polls, each has a lot at stake tonight. Trump needs come off as someone Americans can imagine serving in our highest office. Thus he needs to avoid pettiness and nastiness and seem well-informed. Clinton needs to appear more relatable and human. As political commentator Michael Graham observes, we vote for the Presidential candidate with whom we’d like to share a beer. That’s not exactly Hillary at this point.

6. It will be the best TV of the evening. No sitcom or drama will provide more potential thrills or laughs. A billionaire reality TV star squares off against a former Senator/Secretary of State/First Lady in a debate over national security. And it’s not clear who America will think won that debate!

You can’t make this stuff up! And you don’t want to miss it.

Check out the Retiree’s Guide To The Election to learn more about this year’s election.

Cover photo: chrisdorney /

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