Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican counterpart Donald Trump meet for their second second televised debate Sunday night.
Since their first debate, widely viewed as having been won by Clinton, Trump has had to deal with various voter concerns, including questions about his apparent lack of paying federal taxes for many years. But those issues have been pushed aside with Friday's revelations of Trump's obscene comments about women captured on audiotape 11 years ago.
For her part, Clinton will likely have to answer for comments revealed by WikiLeaks that shows she sometimes takes one stance publicly, and an opposite stance privately on various issues, including trade and her dealings with Wall Street. Public opinion polls indicate a large number of Americans question her trustworthiness, and those polls were taken before Friday's WikiLeaks release.
Sunday is an opportunity for Clinton to show the "presidential look" that her opponent famously said she does not possess. All eyes will be on Clinton Sunday in the debate in St. Louis, Missouri to see how she calls out Trump about his lewd remarks and his financial dealings.
Trump has the opportunity Sunday to address his party's concerns about his behavior, his temperament and his ability to take on the office of the president.
The debate will in all likelihood be a "chess game" of a show between Clinton and Trump with the audience looking to see who can bait whom while maintaining their composure. The audience will also be a part of the show as the town hall format will have the candidates fielding questions from moderators and from voters invited to attend.
Trump has signaled an aggressive approach that might involve resurrecting the Bill Clinton impeachment saga in the second term of his presidency.
In the first debate nearly two weeks ago, Clinton asked Trump why he had refused to release his tax information and what he was hiding. She speculated that he might not have paid any taxes to which he replied "That makes me smart," a comment that did not go over well with many taxpayers.
Many conservatives were disheartened not only with Trump’s first debate performance but also his Twitter attacks in the days that followed targeting Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe. “The more he talks about that, that doesn’t help him. It is what you would call ‘off-message,’” said Weekly Standard Editor Fred Barnes on VOA’s “Issues in the News” program.
Clinton’s lead in national and some key state polls has surged in the wake of the first debate and she is likely to emphasize unity in her next faceoff with Trump, as she did recently with supporters at a rally in Coral Springs, Florida. “My view is, we are already great and if we work together, we will become even greater in the years ahead.”
Trump captured the Republican Party nomination in no small measure because of his performance in the numerous primary debates. But the general election debates are a different matter. “Those were multi-candidate debates with many people on the stage where short answers and short quips were good for him,” said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. “This 90 minutes is a lot of time to fill and so I think Donald Trump needs to think about how he is going to complete an entire debate against one candidate who is quite experienced.”
A third presidential debate is scheduled for October 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jim Malone, Fern Robinson and Chris Allen contributed to this report.