September 26, 2016 10:28 am
Updated: September 26, 2016 1:03 pm

Trump vs. Clinton: Will Donald Trump act presidential on the debate stage?

Political experts say Donald Trump has to show in this debate he has the temperament to be president while Hillary Clinton has to get her supporters excited again.


Put Donald Trump in front of a microphone and you never really know what might come out of his mouth.

The Republican presidential candidate is set for his first of three face-to-face challenges with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, as the presidential election campaign moves into its final stretch.

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Trump is anything but conventional and his debate prep appears to have followed an unconventional route as well. Members of Trump’s campaign said he has crammed in the lead up, but he reportedly avoided holding mock debates against a faux-Hillary.

The U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton begins at 9pm ET and will be livestreamed on here.

READ MORE: Trump vs. Clinton: One mistake in debate could be fatal, says pollster

He has vowed to “stay cool,” telling Fox News host Bill O’Reilly last week he will remain respectful and hopes Clinton does the same.

WATCH: Monday marks the first of three presidential debates and it could be the most watched of all time. Many analysts believe viewership could rival the Super Bowl. Jackson Proskow reports.

Analysts and Clinton campaign insiders are left guessing whether “The Donald” will be his usual brash self during Monday night’s debate, moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, or whether he’ll break from his script.

READ MORE: Presidential debate 2016: Should moderators be fact checkers?

“The gains he’s seen in polling during September have come from both Clinton missteps and a more disciplined operation under new Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who has tamed her candidate’s feral impulses at the margins,” wrote Slate‘s Jim Newell.

“What keeps the Clinton campaign awake at night must be the possibility of Trump passing through this first debate with a calm and poise for which he is not known. The Trump campaign’s hope is to trick people, white-collar white people in particular, into believing that he is indeed calm and poised.”

WATCH: Trump has been preparing for debate “his entire lifetime”: Pence

But the Clinton campaign believes he’ll shed the sheep’s clothing, given enough time.

“We expect that we have to contend with both Trumps maybe in the course of the same debate,” Brian Fallon, a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, told the Charlotte Observer.

“If he has to endure a 90-minute session with a lot of spontaneous conversation back and forth . . . it may be impossible for him to not slip back into the unscripted version of Donald Trump. That’s who he really is.”

His shoot-from-the-hip style of campaigning has courted plenty of controversy. He often resorts to name calling: “Crooked Hillary,” (Elizabeth) “Pocahontas” Warren, “Lyin’ Ted Cruz”, and “Little Marco” (Rubio) just to list a few. He has insulted women, Mexicans, Muslims and he’s even mocked a physically disabled journalist. His rhetoric is often seen as divisive and he’s been accused of fuelling racial hatred.

WATCH: Tom Clark previews Monday’s pivotal US presidential debate.

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And it’s that unpredictable stream of Trumpisms that will have droves of people tuning in — some predictions suggest as many as 100 million people could be watching.

Some pundits believe Trump will be rated on whether he acts more presidential compared to how he usually does.

“Trump will be graded on a curve: Is he more dignified, more truthful and less bullying than he has been for most of the campaign?” wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus.

But he added Clinton will be looked at in terms of how well she connects with the viewers and would-be voters, something she is seen as having struggled with. Clinton, however, has the advantage of having the policy chops after decades of living her life in the political world.

“The bigger test for Trump could come from the usually simple challenge of explaining the details of his own policies. Often, there aren’t any. In interviews during the campaign, he has struggled to explain how many of his ideas would actually work,” McManus wrote.

WATCH: Trump advisor avoids commenting on debate invite of Gennifer Flowers

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