Immigration, the Supreme Court and the economy are among the few designated talking points for the third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
However, no one expects the matchup to adhere to the format.
Viewers have watched the debates as they would a hockey game. They’re interested in who’s scoring points, but prefer to see the gloves come off.
The debate is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET in Las Vegas.
Pundits have ranked the first two debates as the most derisive in the history of modern American politics.
Since the last debate on Oct. 9, both candidates have faced a slate of unpleasant developments:
More Hacked Emails. Wikileaks continued to provide Trump supporters ammunition. The Trump campaign suggested that the most recent release of Clinton’s emails uncovered a quid pro quo deal between the State Department and FBI. Campaign officials argue the emails show that an FBI official offered look into the reclassification of some Clinton emails in exchange for State Department help in boosting the number of FBI agents in Iraq.
Trump Accusers. Trump insists his vulgar comments about woman captured in a 2005 videotape was nothing but “locker room talk.” He argued he never made unwanted sexual advances toward any women. His denials prompted several women to go public with accusations that Trump had groped, kissed or improperly touched them.
Rigged Election. Trump has stepped up his claims that the presidential election is “rigged” against him. A recent Trump posting on Twitter: “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.”
SNL. Trump called for the cancelation of “Saturday Night Live” after the program ran another skit mocking his performance in the second debate. His tweet: “Watched 'Saturday Night Live' hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”
The last debate’s unnerving sideact—an emergency news conference called moments before the debate that assembled a crew of alleged Bill and Hillary Clinton abuse accusers—might be attempted again.
Trump’s planted distraction this time could be the mother of man killed in the 2012 Benghazi attacks, Yahoo News reported.
Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith, had given a speech at the Republican National Convention blasting Clinton and holding her responsible for her son’s death.
Smith confirmed to Yahoo News that she will be attending the event and might be sitting in the front row.
Trump’s strategy has worked only so far as to distract from the significant the lead Clinton has opened up in a general poll (six point lead) and in the key battleground states.
A Washington Post study gives Clinton leads of 4 to 11 percentage points in New Hampshire, Viriginia, Michigan, New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia. Winning those states would put her comfortably ahead with a total 304 electoral votes (270 needed to win the election).
Trump holds smaller and less statistically reliable leads of of 2 to 5 percentage points in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Arizona, Texas and Florida. Winning all of those states and the others that show clear preference for him would deliver him 138 electoral votes.