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The Brief: A Trip to the Strip

It's debate day in Sin City, so put all your chips on the table, go all in, and bring your favorite Vegas cliché, because what happens here tonight definitely won't stay here. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump square off in the third and final presidential debate at UNLV Wednesday evening. Moderator and Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace is expected to ask the candidates questions about debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign "hot spots," and—last but not least—fitness to be president. But also expect heavy doses of talk about "rigged" elections, WikiLeaks, the FBI and treatment of women. So what should we be looking for tonight? Will it be contentious, like the last showdown in St. Louis? Or will the candidates focus on policy and clear delivery of their messages to voters? Will Trump continue his scorched-earth strategy? Will Clinton engage? And will the Democratic nominee hit the right tone, knowing—per the polls—that she's in the driver’s seat? Will people tune in, or has debate fatigue set in? And what happened to shaking hands? We'll try to answer those questions, and more.

A new Bloomberg Politics poll has Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 9 points nationally, indicating that the Republican nominee would need to stage an historic comeback in the next 20 days to win the election. The poll shows that support for Trump among groups including men and the less educated has weakened, which could lead to a landslide loss for the GOP in down-ballot races as well. And while the news may be bad for the former Apprentice host nationally, things look even worse for him in some historically red states. A new survey shows the Republican nominee trailing in Arizona, and the latest numbers out of Texas have his opponent within the margin of error. The data shows how high the stakes are tonight. Just how dire are things for Trump heading into the contest?

Finally, there are a duo of new campaign ads out today. The one from team Clinton tries to make the closing argument for the candidate ahead of the final debate. The spot, titled "A Place for Everyone," features Clinton narrating "this is not an ordinary time and this is not an ordinary election." Meanwhile, Trump has a new ad out entitled "Deals," which blasts the economic policies of President Obama and the Clintons. We'll compare and contrast the latest buys.

With All Due Respect broadcasts live from UNLV, site of tonight's debate. And after WADR, tune in for more debate discussion. Bloomberg Politics has partnered with Twitter for special coverage of the Vegas showdown, and Mark Halperin and John Heilemann will have pre-game and post-game interviews and analysis, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET, live on Twitter and Bloomberg TV. Follow along at @bpolitics.

—Rob Gifford @giff18

—Sen. Marco Rubio, discussing WikiLeaks in an interview with ABC News

Must-read

The Poll Tolls: Clinton Has 9-Point Lead as Comeback Obstacles Loom for Trump, from Bloomberg Politics' John McCormick

"Donald Trump would need to stage a historic comeback to win the White House in 20 days as key slices of the electorate drift away from his candidacy, according to the latest Bloomberg Politics national poll. Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 9 percentage points in the survey of likely voters, taken after a leaked video prompted a series of women to come forward alleging the Republican made unwanted sexual advances.  Support for Trump among critical groups of voters, including men and the less educated, has weakened in the campaign’s closing days, a trajectory that could translate into a landslide loss for Republicans in the Electoral College and setbacks in down-ballot races that will determine control of the House and Senate."

Laying low: Trump’s Family Keeps Low Profile in Home Stretch of Campaign, from Bloomberg Politics' Jennifer Jacobs

"Trump lifted his children up to the highest levels of his company and the television show that put him in millions of households across the U.S. But they’re playing less visible roles in his campaign as the nation focuses on its closing weeks, a surprising turn after headlining all four nights of July’s Republican National Convention. Viewed as a crucial asset in her father’s play for millennial and female voters, Trump’s daughter Ivanka received rave reviews for her convention speech and was poised for a leading role in advocating for his candidacy. But Ivanka, who had a confrontational interview in September with Cosmopolitan.com, a popular site for young women, has been mostly limiting her appearances on the trail to smaller events."

Poll watching: Donald Trump’s Call to Monitor Polls Raises Fears of Intimidation, from the New York Times' Trip Gabriel

"Warning darkly of a stolen election, Donald J. Trump has called on supporters to turn out in droves on Election Day to monitor polling places, telling them they need to be vigilant against widespread voter fraud and a rigged outcome….His language has stirred increasing fears of intimidation of minorities inside polling places, where their qualifications to vote could be challenged, or outside, where they would face illegal electioneering. But as Mr. Trump casts doubt on the integrity of the presidential election, there are no signs of a wave of Trump poll watchers building. Like much else about his campaign, his call to “get everybody to go out and watch” the polls seems to be a Potemkin effort, with little or no organization behind it."

Quid pro know: ‘I need a favor’: FBI official at center of alleged Clinton email ‘quid pro quo’ speaks out, from the Washington Post's Matt Zapotsky

"FBI official Brian McCauley had been trying for weeks to get his contact at the State Department to approve his request to put two bureau employees back in Baghdad….In an hour-long interview with The Washington Post, his first public comments on the matter, McCauley acknowledged that he offered to do a favor in exchange for another favor, but before he had any inkling of what Kennedy wanted. The FBI and the State Department have denied that McCauley and Kennedy ever engaged in “quid pro quo.” McCauley, who has since retired from the FBI, said he asked Kennedy to send him the email in question and then inquired with another bureau official about it because he had only a partial understanding of the request."

New target: Clinton Challenges Trump for a Traditional Republican Bloc, White Catholics, from the New York Times' Jason Horowitz

"Roman Catholics are the country’s second-largest religious group after evangelical Protestants, and they are as diverse as the country itself, with young liberals, cultural conservatives and, increasingly, Democratic-leaning Hispanics. But now, the Clinton campaign senses a rare opportunity to block Mr. Trump’s narrow path to victory by making inroads with a core part of the church: white Catholics, a prized group of voters that has defied predictions this year."

Heavy weather: Violence Across America Weighs on Voters’ Minds, from Bloomberg's Esme Desprez

"Crime data show the U.S. is dramatically safer today than in the 1970s and ’80s. At the same time, it remains far more violent than other industrial democracies -- and ubiquitous images on television and social media of violent terrorism, civil unrest and mass murder aggravate the fears of a nation on edge. As they prepare to choose between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump on Nov. 8, residents of Roseburg, San Bernardino and Charlotte revealed in interviews how their outlooks have been shaped by witnessing calamity so close to home."

Daybook (All times eastern)

  • 12:00 p.m.: Tim Kaine attends early voting event in Springfield, Ohio
  • 12:30 p.m.: White House Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest
  • 12:45 p.m.: Bernie Sanders campaigns in Reno, NV
  • 1:00 p.m.: Ben Carson campaigns for Trump in Urbandale, Iowa
  • 2:00 p.m.: Mike Pence holds a rally in Durango, Colorado
  • 3:00 p.m.: Carson campaigns for Trump in Marshalltown, Iowa
  • 6:00 p.m.: Carson campaigns for Trump in Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • 9:00 p.m: Third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas, NV

From “With All Due Respect”

Obama Blasts ‘Whiner’ Trump’s Rhetoric of Rigging

Mark Halperin and John Heilemann discuss President Obama’s rebuke of Donald Trump’s repeated claims of a “rigged” election and whether Republicans will reject the GOP nominee’s claims of electoral fraud.

Donald Trump Vows to ‘Drain the Swamp’ in Washington

Halperin and Heilemann discuss Trump’s ethics reform plan and his call for Congressional term limits.

Melania Trump Blames ‘Left-Wing Media’ for Husband’s Woes

Halperin and Heilemann discuss Melania Trump’s defense of her husband in interviews with CNN and Fox News.

Debate Round 3: What to Expect in Sin City?

Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, NBC News’ Kasie Hunt and Bloomberg Politics’ Kevin Cirilli weigh in on the final presidential debate.

Ocean's Election: Rigging the System Vegas-Style

Can the 2016 U.S. presidential election actually be rigged? We go to Las Vegas to find out. By Griffin Hammond, Alexander Trowbridge, and Matt Negrin.

Chart of the Day

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Linguistic analysis of the candidates’ past debates gives insight into the likeliest pitfalls each will need to avoid.

Catch “With All Due Respect” on Bloomberg TV and BloombergPolitics.com weekdays at 5 p.m. ET

Questions, suggestions and tips—e-mail rgifford5@bloomberg.net or tweet at @giff18.