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First Presidential debate: What you need to know

A lowdown of what to expect from tonight's first presidential debate, which is expected to have an audience of more than 100 million.
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An estimated 100 million Americans are set to tune in Monday evening for the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will share a stage for the first time at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, with just under six weeks to go until the 2016 General Election (though hey, you can vote now if you want to).

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the debate.

When does it start?

The debate starts at 8 p.m. CST and lasts for 90 minutes.

It will be moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt and will be divided into six segments of 15 minutes each, with the moderator opening each segment with a question – after which candidates will have 2 minutes to respond.

They can then respond to each other, with the moderator interjecting if they feel it necessary to the debate.

How can I watch?

According to 2016 Election Central, the debate will be broadcast live on all major news networks (C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) as well as cable news channels like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC.

It will also be live streamed on YouTube and Twitter.

What will they debate?

The first debate is centered on three topics: “America’s Direction; Achieving Prosperity; and Securing America.”

The themes are broad so a wide range of subjects could be covered depending on the question, but given the second and third topics it’s likely that the economy, immigration and domestic/foreign security will come up.

What can we expect?

That depends on who you ask. It’s difficult to find a news outlet that hasn’t run a “5 things to expect from the debate” piece in some form or the other.

CNN has put together a list of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, noting that Trump’s positive includes being a critic of the status quo and being accomplished at evading questions, but noting he lacks depth on policy and is a known flip-flopper.

Clinton meanwhile has knowledge, experience and a broad range of policies, but has a tendency to be long-winded and can be evasive when answering.

ABC News thinks the debate will be a contrast in tone and preparation, with Clinton said to be very prepared for the debate and Trump more likely to go with his noted improvisational style.

NJ.com predicts that immigration and prosperity will become intertwined, with Trump already having linked the building of his wall between the U.S. and Mexico as a way of protecting American business by preventing cheap labor, while Clinton has sought to create a clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, many of whom have come from Mexico.

There’s a lot of intrigue about the performance of Holt and the role he will play.

The Clinton camp is eager for him to act as a fact-checker for some of the more outlandish claims Trump has made during the campaign, while Trump said he wants Holt to be a moderator, not a fact-checker,Politico reports.

The aim for each candidate

The Washington Post thinks the aim for Clinton is to “expose Trump as a policy lightweight and a dangerous potential president” while ensuring she doesn’t come across as “overly prepared or sanctimonious.”

Trump meanwhile needs to show some command of issues, and not be goaded into personal attacks that could backfire.

NJ.com doesn’t expect much “bomb-throwing” in the first debate, with Trump apparently being coached to tone down his notoriously aggressive public speaking style and opt for a “more demure” demeanor.

Presidential historian David Kennedy told the website it could be counter-productive for Clinton to “bash” Trump, as he’s known for turning charges against him to his own favor, and she should instead keep the focus on her.

PBS correspondent Jeff Greenfield also cautions Clinton against showing contempt for Trump’s supposed lack of policy knowledge, noting that Al Gore made that mistake during the debates with George W. Bush and it counted against him.

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