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What To Expect In This Last Debate At UNLV

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

A pedestrian walks past the site for the third presidential debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at UNLV in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016.

It’s the last presidential debate and it's on the campus of UNLV.

And it might be the most watched debate of all time. Not for the best of reasons, though.

As he slumps in the polls, Donald Trump has not stopped saying the election is rigged. President Barack Obama has told him to stop whining and try to win votes. And as she’s in the driver’s seat, there are questions about how Hillary Clinton will deal with the scorched earth rhetoric expected from Trump?

If you’re thinking, "reality show gone bad," you’re not alone.

Thousands of reporters from around the globe are in Las Vegas for this debate. That includes CNN’s top political correspondent, Dana Bash. She was a questioner in six of seven presidential primary debates.

She joined KNPR's State of Nevada by phone from UNLV.

How well do things seem to be organized at UNLV?

So far so good! Our setup is terrific. I've seen the other networks as well and we've already met some of the representatives from the school and they were lovely and hospitable.

Are voters going to get anything substantial from this debate that they need before they vote?

I hope so! Chris Wallace is somebody who has done this before. He does tend to be issue focused. Since the last debate came less than 48 hours from when that last tape came out the moderators had no choice but to go there. The candidates themselves took it down into the gutter. The question for tonight is whether Chris Wallace can keep it up high or even at surface level.

After talking to some people close to Trump, they don't even know how it's going to go. They prepared him as a 'normal' candidate. Somebody who is going to focus on issues. Somebody is going to focus on where he does best, on being an outsider, not part of the establishment, all the things that make him so beloved among so many of his supporters and had peeked the interest of others who have not been a supporter. The question is he going to go there or it's going to be another theater.

What will Chris Wallace be like as a moderator? Will viewers have to worry whether he is going to be fair?

No. I really don't think so... The Trump campaign wanted somebody from Fox. Chris Wallace is not a Fox News person per se. He hosts the Sunday show, which is on the Fox Network. But regardless, he's a long time reporter, long time journalist and he has been hard on Trump and the Republicans throughout his career. And he clearly knows the stakes are high. I would imagine that he is going to ask Trump some tough questions just like he's going to ask Hillary Clinton some tough questions. 

Is this last debate more important than the other two?

I think, historically, probably not, unless you have a moment that just penetrates in the voters' psyches but because this is such an unusual year. But because this is such an unusual year, because polls both private and public show that there are still a lot of undecided voters - maybe. But, I do get the sense - just anecdotally, never mind polling - that people are paying such close attention and have been. I'm not sure, barring some really epic moment tonight, that it's going to change a lot of minds. 



Dana Bash, chief political correspondent, CNN

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.