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Talking Points

Bill O'Reilly: Clinton versus Trump on the debate stage

Ninety-minute debate, six 15 minute segments should get under way in about an hour. The three general topics tonight, America's direction, achieving prosperity, securing America. Obviously, those are very general topics. So, anything could happen. You can say anything in those topics. Now, Hillary Clinton won the coin toss so Lester Holt's first question will go to her. The same question will then be asked Donald Trump. Each candidate will have two minutes to answer the initial question and the other candidate will have two minutes to respond.

So, it's a back and forth. There will be no opening or closing statements. So I like the format. I kind of think that it might take Lester Holt out of things but if a candidate does not tell the truth, the other candidate, it's up to him or her to call him out because Holt really can't interrupt while Trump and Clinton are speaking. So that's the format here. I predict a bit of chaos with the back and forth and that might be very entertaining. So, bring it on.

Hillary Clinton does have the advantage this evening. She has done these one on one debates before, most notably with Barack Obama. Mr. Trump has had debate experience only with a bunch of other people on the stage. A lot more difficult one on one. Also Hillary Clinton is much more versed in policy. She can razzle-dazzle with fact and figures. Donald Trump is more of a generalist, big picture guy. So, when it comes to specifics, you can expect more from Hillary Clinton on that front.

But talking points believes it might not matter very much because demeanor, the way the candidates handle themselves will be what many Americans are watching. Example it would be unwise for Donald Trump to make faces as he sometimes did in the Republican debates. Remember that? Also it would be a major mistake for Mr. Clinton to sound shrill or to call Trump names. That would erode her status as a public figure. Both candidates have been heavily coached and will come armed with one-liners but they better be cautious.

As we saw over the weekend after the Clinton campaign invited Mark Cuban to sit in the front row just between Trump. Trump responded we're going to be taking to Gennifer Flowers. So, right away, the presidential debate got into the world wrestling federation mode. Fortunately, Miss Flowers will not be attending this evening. But the circus is on hold for a moment except for the people in the back. And yes, Hillary Clinton did start that, there's no doubt about it.

But again, Americans want authoritative problem solvers, not foolish game players. The demeanor factor, the demeanor factor is extremely important in this debate tonight. In 1960, then-Vice President Richard Nixon basically lost the election because he looked bad at the debate, dower, sweaty, tense. By contrast, the young Senator from Massachusetts John F. Kennedy whom Americans really didn't know back then, came across as vibrant and very human.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Mr. Nixon is an effective leader of his party. I hope he would grant me the same. The question before us is, which point of view and which party do we want to lead the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nixon, would you like to comment on that statement?

RICHARD NIXON, 37TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no comment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: And that was Nixon. Although the election was close, Nixon of course of course won the presidency eight years later, but he should have won in 1960. And then there are the one-liners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: That witty line turned things around for Ronald Reagan who had lost the first debate to Walter Mondale but made a comeback in the second thanks to that line. From then on, there was no stopping President Reagan's re-election campaign in 1984. In 1988, there was a vice- presidential debate between Dan Quayle and Senator Lloyd Bentsen, a Democrat.

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DAN QUAYLE, 44TH VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator?

SENATOR LLOYD BENTSEN (D), FORMER TEXAS SENATOR: I serve with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: Now, that line was not enough to elect Bentsen's running mate, Michael Dukakis. Why? Because the governor himself blew it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?

MICHAEL DUKAKIS, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: No, I don't, Bernard. And I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: That answer of Dukakis painted him as insensitive to his own wife and hurt him dramatically.

Finally, presidential candidates get their facts wrong in a big debate. They have got trouble.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I would like to explore a little more deeply our relationship with the Russians. Our allies in France and Italy are now flirting with communism. There is no soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: And that blunder by President Ford pretty much gave the election to Jimmy Carter in 1976. So, back to tonight, the poll is pretty much a dead heat going into the big show. It's kind of shocking because many pundits believe Hillary Clinton would easily roll over Donald Trump. If Mr. Trump stands to his ground tonight, looks presidential as I say, Senator Clinton could be in major trouble. I was in Colorado over the week and polls there say, the race is tied.

If Colorado goes with Trump, he's the next president. Same things in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. On Friday, we told you that North Carolina will now go to Trump because of all the social unrest. Social disorder always drives voters to the more authoritarian candidate. So finally, what's my prediction? As Mr. T. once said in a "rocky" movie, pain. Both candidates no matter what they do will get smashed by the opposition. No matter how good Donald Trump performs, press will say he blew it. No matter how astute Hillary Clinton may be, those who dislike her will continue to dislike her. It's not like everybody or anybody will be going to Disney World after this.

And that's "The Memo".

Bill O'Reilly currently serves as the host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The O'Reilly Factor (weekdays 8PM/ET), the most watched cable news show for the past 13 years. He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Bill O'Reilly