On Sept. 26, attention will be geared toward the first presidential debate, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go head-to-head in their first debate. And one of the things we'll be anticipating is the closing arguments at the presidential debate, which will take place after all the questions are asked by the moderator.
Although closing arguments are not listed in the format presented by the Commission on Presidential Debates, most general election debates do have them. The statements provide the candidates with an opportunity to express their views on anything which was not addressed during the questions presented by the moderator.
In the the first debate, which will be held at Hofstra University and moderated by NBC's Lester Holt, six segments of approximately 15 minutes each will be presented to the candidates. Those major topics, which are selected by the moderator, are announced at least one week before the debate.
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for an in-depth discussion of the topic.
In the 2012 debates between Obama and Mitt Romney, each candidate was allowed a two-minute closing statement at the end of each event.
Trump, who is a notoriously outspoken debater, has brought a new spotlight on debate moderators in the Republican primaries. And with the addition of a closing argument, which would be delivered without the interjection of a moderator, Trump could have the ability to say some more outrageous statements, even if it is only for duration of two minutes.
This year's debate, set against a highly dramatic backdrop, will have some added tension in the wake of the reaction to Hillary Clinton's comment that Trump supporters are a "basket of deplorables." The Washington Post added some more fuel to that fire by releasing an op-ed written by Dana Milbank, which said that, while Clinton may have been "unwise" to use such a term to label voters, she "wasn't wrong." That comment, which Milbank said is reminiscent of Gov. Romney's "binders of women" (and perhaps his ill-fated "47 percent" comment), has definitely added some challenges for the Democratic nominee. But with the opportunity of a closing argument, she may be able to address that hot-button topic.
In any event, this debate is a definite must-watch, as the two presidential nominees have a chance to finally fight it out on a national stage.