BOSTON (CBS) – Let’s go over the debate party checklist for Monday night. TV set to WBZ? Check. Chips and salsa, the favorite snack of Hillary Clinton? Check. Steak sandwiches made from Trump steaks in honor of the GOP nominee? Check.
Looks like you’re good to go for the first showdown. But what can you expect to see?
For Donald Trump, this debate is all about appearing presidential. That is one of the biggest polling gaps between him and Clinton; she is perceived as having the temperament and experience to handle the job, he is not.
And with a yawning gender gap looming as a big hurdle for Trump, he has to be careful not to get too nasty with the first female major-party nominee. But no one expects Trump to recite the tax code from memory, or to morph into Mr. Rogers. He just has to display knowledge, poise and tact, more so than he has through long stretches of this race.
A little humor wouldn’t hurt, either.
No one expects humor from Clinton, but she’d better be ready with some good zingers to put Trump in his place if he gets fresh. And when he hits Clinton on some of her more glaring faults – her efforts to spin away her e-mail negligence, for instance, or her bungling of the Benghazi response – she needs to do more than just counterpunch by talking about Trump’s sketchy charity or his hidden tax returns. A touch of humility in the form of honesty about her flaws could help defuse them as campaign issues.
This has been an ugly campaign, and hard feelings are running high on both sides. So maybe there’s one other bit of prep needed for your debate party – a safe room with pillows where your guests can retreat to chill out.