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Published: Sunday, October 09, 2016 @ 8:15 AM
Under attack in his own party and losing ground in many polls, Donald Trump comes into tonight's debate in St. Louis needing a big change of pace in the race for the White House.
Trump's first debate performance was widely panned, as Hillary Clinton received a bump in state and national polling.
This is a different debate tonight - no podiums - instead, the candidates will be taking questions from a group of undecided voters.
What should we expect, with less than one month to Election Day?
1. Donald Trump's vulgar remarks may be first up. Indications are that the very first issue to be brought up in tonight's debate will be the 2005 video tape which featured a variety of sexual remarks by Donald Trump. What does Trump say when that is broached? Does he take a swing at Hillary Clinton? At Bill Clinton? How does Hillary Clinton react? Maybe most importantly, how does it impact the rest of the debate, and the questions from the undecided voters in this town hall format?
2. Will Trump bring up Bill Clinton? In recent days, Trump has threatened to bring up claims of rape and sexual assault lodged against former President Clinton, as well as Hillary Clinton's reaction to it. Such a move could produce more than just debate fireworks for the candidates, but maybe for those on the voter panel in St. Louis. Both last night and this morning, Trump has tweeted out items revolving around Juanita Broaddrick, who claimed Bill Clinton raped her in the late 1970's.
3. What does Hillary Clinton do tonight? Team Clinton has been quiet for more than 24 hours about Trump's problems, obviously deciding its better to let him deal with his own troubles. But on the debate stage, Clinton will have the opportunity to deliver what one might assume will be a well rehearsed statement about Trump and his vulgar remarks. How pointed does she get? Does Clinton try to veer back to the issues swiftly? Oh, to be a fly on the wall of her debate prep.
4. The undecided voters in tonight's debate. Think about this race for a minute. Do you know many people who are undecided about Trump and Clinton? The polling organization Gallup is in charge of selecting the undecided voters for this town hall format; Gallup supposedly does not choose people who are leaning toward one candidate or another, but only truly undecided voters. I would bet that by morning, there will be cries that some of those voters weren't undecided after all.
5. Trump and other Republicans. While some say Trump will go after Bill and Hillary Clinton will extra zeal tonight, he might also get the opportunity to blow off some steam at Republicans who abandoned him over the last two days. Trump didn't hesitate throughout much of this campaign to attack other Republicans - sometimes more than Clinton - and we'll see if he returns to that tonight, arguing that he is consummate outsider who is opposed by the leadership of both parties.
Follow me tonight during the debate on Twitter @jamiedupree.