Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton meet one final time before Election Day, squaring off Wednesday in Las Vegas in their third debate. Trump, beleaguered by the fallout from the now-infamous Access Hollywood recording and subsequent allegations of sexual misconduct, needs nothing short of a tour de force performance to revive his chances of catching Clinton before Nov. 8.
Here are five things Trump needs to do in Wednesday's debate.
1. Decide whether to be the "issues" Trump or the "take-no-prisoners" Trump
During the campaign, Trump has oscillated between issue-oriented speeches and slam-bang rallies in which he accuses Hillary and Bill Clinton of all kinds of misbehavior. In recent days, he's ramped up charges that critics, including the media, are trying to "rig" the election against him. The more aggressive Trump showed up at the last debate — along with a few of Bill Clinton's past accusers, invited by the Trump campaign — in St. Louis on Oct. 9, generating what was perhaps the nastiest debate in presidential history. Will the showdown in Las Vegas be worse?
2. Address women directly
Trump will likely be called upon to defend himself against claims by more than a dozen women who have accused him of unwanted sexual advances. There's also the recording made public earlier this month in which Trump talks about how he can grab, grope and kiss women because he is a celebrity. As a result, the Republican nominee's approval ratings with women — never high to begin with — have dipped even more in recent days. Trump needs to use this debate to improve his standing among female voters, who make up more than half the electorate. That includes female Republicans, who could put traditionally red states in play for Clinton if they defect in significant enough numbers.
3. Act presidential
This is Trump's last chance to pass the presidential threshold test in front of a television audience of tens of millions. He must prove he has the knowledge and the temperament to be president and commander in chief, attributes voters have expressed doubts about after the first two debates. The New York businessman has never held public office, and his lack of familiarity with the challenges of the job have become apparent. One of the scheduled debate topics is "fitness to be president," and Trump needs to rise to that challenge.
4. It's not just about her
Trump needs to get beyond attacking Clinton (and her husband). He needs to talk about what he would do as president and what kind of vision he would bring to the presidency. Look for Trump to talk more about issues, such as his new proposed political ethics reforms. Another scheduled debate topic should be in Trump's wheelhouse: immigration, which didn't surface during the first two sessions with Clinton.
5. Avoid a big blow-up
Trump has expressed deep anger on the campaign as the allegations against him have mounted. They don't make much difference with his supporters, but angry outbursts would not play well on a nationally televised debate stage. Trump needs to be cool, calm and collected as he debates the Democrat seeking to be the first female president, a rival who has questioned the Republican's very stability.