Don't look now, but the first presidential debate of the 2016 general election is almost here, and it figures to be a TV event unlike any other. It's already being widely predicted to draw huge number of viewers, and with the polls tightening somewhat in recent weeks, it's coming at a pivotal moment. And you won't want to miss it, because you'll only have a couple more chances ― if everything goes according to plan, that is. In short, if you're curious when the last 2016 presidential debate will be, you should know that it's scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 19.
But wait! Why that qualifier about everything going according to plan, you ask? That's just to clarify that neither candidate is legally bound or required to appear at the final debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, next month, and that fact is looming larger in this presidential race than it has in cycles past.
That's because Trump, currently an underdog in the polls despite a comeback in recent weeks, has pulled out of debates before ― he famously blew off a debate during the GOP primaries, and he's already raised a number of complaints about the general election face-offs that he could feasibly use as a pretense for backing out, including the scheduling, and in the case of the second debate, the presence of CNN's Anderson Cooper as a moderator.
In other words, you should bear in mind that regardless of what the two campaigns have already agreed to, there's no guarantee that Trump won't try to wriggle out of the future engagements if it suits him. For instance, if he emerged from the first Sept. 26 debate as the consensus winner, you could easily see why he might consider bailing out, so to leave that moment of victory as the last thing the voters think about when they remember the debates. And similarly, if he gets shellacked, he'd have a simple enough strategic reason to stay away, too.
But for the time being, the schedules are set, and everyone is ostensibly committed to being there. So don't forget: Your last shot at seeing these two candidates debate will in all likelihood be Wednesday, Oct. 19, with the action beginning at 9 p.m. ET and running until 10:30 p.m. ET. That's the same time-slot all the debates will air in, as a matter of fact, including the vice presidential debate on Oct. 4. Make sure to mark it down on your calendars, because it figures to be a memorable moment in American political history.