Hiller Instinct: Presidential debate preview

BOSTON (WHDH) - I don’t care how many debates Hillary Clinton has been in before because she’s never been in one like this–because there’s never been one like this.

It’s more than a debate; it’s a spectacle–a show! And Donald Trump is the showman who could turn tonight into the Oval Office, or into a coffin for his campaign.

They both have dos and don’ts.

Calmly, and with precision, Clinton needs to provoke Trump into saying something he will forever regret. Trump hates to be insulted. Maybe she should call him “Little Donnie.” What do you do when voters don’t like you, or trust you? And when too often you come across as cold, and entitled? How about a smile? A real smile?

For Trump, job number one is to convince voters he’s fit to be president. That he has a presidential temperament. If he acts dignified tonight, his answer will be yes. Here’s a quick specific: You know those faces Trump makes during a debate? Tonight, he should leave them all in the green room. They’re useless and only make Hillary look good.

Just as there are opportunities, there are also obstacles for Clinton and Trump. Clinton, for example, must avoid getting into a skunk fight with Trump. If she gets into one, she’ll smell like one, which will only hurt her. Above all, Hillary cannot show any sign of any health problem. One coughing spell could actually cost her the White House.

Trump will and should criticize Clinton, but he must be careful not to cross the line and harass her. The last thing Trump wants to create for Hillary is sympathy.

Finally, Trump must recognize he’s close to pulling off an historical upset. If he’s as good at the art of the deal as he claims, then tonight he has to close it.

How big is tonight’s debate? Compared to sports, it’s bigger than Big Papi and Tom Brady combined. In terms of the country, it’s as big as our future.

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