Clinton, Trump go head to head in high stakes presidential debate

Updated: 2016-09-27 08:42


Clinton, Trump go head to head in high stakes presidential debate

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an event in Scranton, Pennsylvania, August 15, 2016 and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Roanoke, Virginia, September 24, 2016 in a combination of file photographs. [Photo/Agencies]


With the contest tightening, Wall Street investors grew more jittery on Monday, contributing to a fall in stocks. Some investors see the close race sparking volatility in sectors that include health insurers, drugmakers and industrials.

Both Trump and Clinton, shown in opinion polls to be the least liked White House candidates in modern history, hope to use the debate to erase lingering voter doubts and address campaign-trail weaknesses.

The volatile Trump, a former reality television star, will have an opportunity to show a depth and steadiness worthy of a commander in chief, while the cautious Clinton, a former US senator and first lady, will have a chance to connect directly with voters who view her as too secretive, strategists said.

Trump, a political newcomer who has at times shown more affinity for put-downs than policy, could benefit from lower voter expectations.

"There is no question it's a lower bar for Trump," said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist and now a political scientist at the University of Southern California. "He doesn't have to be brilliant, he just can't be too bombastic."

The stakes are enormous. Clinton once had a sizable lead, but that has evaporated amid more questions about her family's foundation and use of a private email server while secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

If the election were held today, Clinton would still defeat Trump, with an 88 percent chance of reaching the 270 electoral college votes needed, according to the Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project, which is based on a weekly online tracking poll of more than 15,000 Americans.

Two other presidential candidates - Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein - were not invited to take part in the debate because neither had obtained at least 15 percent support in national polls, the threshold established to qualify.