- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The moderators and venues have been chosen, the dates set. The officially sanctioned presidential debates are now on radar, the first only 18 days away. NBC’s Lester Holt will take the stage at a New York university and steer nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump through six separate encounters with one another, each lasting 15 minutes, with the candidates given two minutes or less to respond.

For weeks, press reports have suggested that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign handlers are nervous about the event; she’s had repeat, unfortunate moments on stage before an intense crowd with coughing fits and other issues. Trump watchers, meanwhile, wonder if the GOP nominee will hone an authentic presidential bearing without sacrificing the bravado which has captivated friends and foes alike — but for different reasons.

The stakes are incredibly high here. The event could yield a huge global audience. Consider that 67 million watched the first debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama in 2012. That was the second biggest debate audience on record for a first round debate. And the biggest? Eighty-one million tuned in to see then-President Jimmy Carter face Ronald Reagan in 1980 — long before the nation had an array of cable news channels, social media outlets and online sources to pick from.

“The first debate represents Donald Trump’s chance to pass the commander in chief test,” says veteran media watcher Howard Kurtz, a Fox News analyst. “Trump has a chance here to pull a Reagan. If he comes in, if he’s reasonably serious, he doesn’t call her ‘crooked Hillary’ and speaks in complete sentences, he could beat the expectations game we all like to play,” predicts Mr. Kurtz.

Find the entire 1980 debate between Mr. Carter and Reagan here



WHY TRUMP WORRIES


SEE ALSO: White House takes Obamacare victory lap as insurers flee exchanges, critics see ‘death spiral’


“We currently have the smallest Army since 1940. The Navy is among the smallest it has been since 1915. And the Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1947. When Ronald Reagan left office, our Navy had 592 ships. When Barack Obama took office, it had 285 ships. Today, the Navy has just 276 ships. The average Air Force aircraft is 27 years-old. We have second generation B-52 bombers — their fathers flew the same plane,” Donald Trump advised in a defense policy speech on Wednesday.

“Our Army has been shrinking rapidly, from 553,000 soldiers in 2009 to just 479,000 today. In 2009, our Marine Corps had 202,000 active Marines. Today, it’s just 182,000. Our ship count is below the minimum of 308 that the Navy says is needed to execute its current missions. President Obama plans to reduce the Army to 450,000 troops — which would hamstring our ability to defend the United States.”

GATHERING OF NOTE

Now underway: The 2016 Intelligence & National Security Summit in the nation’s capital is bringing together a bristling spectrum of folks from the intelligence community, the military and defense sectors, plus security and law enforcement mavens and corporate types. Suffice it to say that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA director John Brennan and FBI director James Comey are on the speakers roster. What with the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks looming on Sunday, the big doings are intense.

The event was organized by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, founded in 1946. Find them at AFCEA.org. Yes, C-SPAN will be there, beginning at 8 a.m. ET

THE $250,000 HILLARY TICKET

It is enough to even impress Manhattanites. None other than Barbra Streisand will be hosting a New York City gala and fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, also attended by Chelsea Clinton, singer Rufus Wainwright and actress Laverne Cox. The place is an “intimate setting” — actually, Cipriani, a midtown venue with soaring ceilings, marble columns and Italian Renaissance inspiration.

The event is Friday; the tickets go as high as $250,000. Yes, there will be a “performance”, organizers advise.

NOW THERE’S A THOUGHT

“I don’t endorse candidates, and people who vote based on recommendation of ‘celebrities’ should not be allowed to vote.”

— “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak in a tweet Wednesday.

AND THERE’S ANOTHER THOUGHT

“I figure they can’t treat me any worse!” — Donald Trump, on explaining his decision to lift his personal “media blacklist” on such news organizations as The Washington Post, Politico and the Des Moines Register, to CNN.

CLEAN LIVING

Proctor and Gamble has announced they are now auditioning for a new “Mr. Clean” to represent the familiar household cleaner nationwide. The company has not changed the look of their he-man mascot in 60 years and is now mulling audition reels from Mr. Clean hopefuls who can “revitalize its brand”. Are their muscles or morality involved? Is there any noise from those who aspired to be, say, “Miss Clean?” Anything, perhaps, is possible.

“We will still have our iconic Mr. Clean, but this will be a chance to let a consumer have a little bit of fun and let us have a little bit of fun as well. The next Mr. Clean will be helping us generate content, including appearing in a calendar which we’ll be showing online,” Kevin Wenzel, associate brand director for the company, tells Ad Age.

POLL DU JOUR

88 percent of Americans say “developing a plan to stop immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally” should be a top priority; 91 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of independents and 88 percent of Democrats agree.

75 percent overall say “developing a plan to allow those in the U.S. illegally who have jobs to become legal residents” should be a top priority; 60 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 91 percent of Democrats agree.

41 percent overall favor building a wall along the entire U.S./Mexico border; 73 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.

30 percent overall say deporting all illegal immigrants should be a top priority; 43 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 16 percent of Democrats agree.

25 percent overall say it’s likely Donald Trump will persuade Mexico to pay for a border wall; 48 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,001 U.S. adults conducted from Sept. 1 to 4.

Murmurs and asides to [email protected]

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