tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 26, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
and recap at nbc bay area news. live team coverage of the fire in the santa cruz mountains. good night, folks. tonight, this is it. donald trump and hillary clinton meeting face to face in their first presidential debate, a live 90-minute showdown between two very different candidates with everything on the line. the critical question, can the two most unpopular people ever to run for president change some minds tonight? a record audience of over 100 million expected to tune in. who will walk away the winner in this first crucial contest? "nightly news" begins right now. ♪ this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. substituting tonight and reporting from the
campus of hofstra university, savannah guthrie. and good evening, i'm savannah guthrie, in for lester who is getting ready to moderate tonight's presidential debate. the stage is literally set right behind us. there are the two podiums where hillary clinton and donald trump will take their positions in just a short while from now. and the stage is set in every other way -- in expectations, in stakes, in suspension, -- in suspense and the importance to the choice voters make in 43 short days. tonight, a string of new polls shows the race is nail-bitingly close for both candidates. our new nbc news/survey monkey tracking poll showing clinton holding on to a five-point lead nationally, but other major polls out today show a race virtually tied nationally, and in some key battleground states as well. some are estimating a total audience on the order of 100 million tonight, and that's super bowl level. and the super bowl is as good a metaphor as any to describe how much is on the line tonight. we have our political team assembled and ready to go. nbc's hallie jackson won the coin toss, and she starts us off this evening. good evening, hallie. >> reporter: good evening, savannah. and if we're sticking
with the football talk, put it this way, donald trump cannot afford a fumble tonight. a senior aide tells nbc that candidate spent the day relaxing, focusing, going over his vision ahead of his first ever one-on-one debate. by now trump has seen the stage over where you are, but neither he nor voters have seen anything like what's about to happen. >> thank you, everybody. >> reporter: tonight, despite all his time on tv, donald trump is facing his biggest audience yet, and to prepare, he's doing it like he always does -- his way. no mock debates, no practice podiums, but he has looked at game tape of hillary clinton's past debates. huddling with advisers like chris christie, rudy guiliani, even getting advice from disgraced former fox news head roger ailes. putting together his playbook. watch for trump to go after clinton on national security and foreign policy, strategically inviting a benghazi survivor to join the audience, and two former generals, along with a gold star mother. in his 11 past primary performances, trump's
had presidential moments like his rebuke to ted cruz after the senator slammed new york values. >> we rebuilt downtown manhattan and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved new york and loved new yorkers. >> reporter: but those moments haven't lasted. so tonight, that's trump's most important play -- proving he has the temperament to be commander in chief. >> lyin' ted, i've given my answer. >> reporter: insults could backfire if he comes off like a bully. >> crooked hillary. crooked hillary. >> reporter: and trump's tendency to fudge facts may put him in risky territory. >> the clinton campaign has been gaining the wrath, been talking to the media for a week now, saying it's your job to make sure that donald trump is fact-checked in realtime. >> reporter: trump's aides says he'll handle it if clinton comes after his inconsistencies. but if she manages to get under his skin, there's no telling what trump could do. always unpredictable, tonight unfiltered. now under the biggest spotlight of his life.
>> donald trump comes into the debate with serious questions about his ability, his fitness to be commander in chief, questions about his temperament, he needs to show steadiness and the american people need to see someone, if he's going to be successful, who is a plausible commander in chief. >> reporter: and underscoring the stakes, our new polling shows 34% of americans say tonight's debate will be important in deciding their vote. savannah? >> hallie jackson in the spin room, starting us off. now for how hillary clinton is preparing. she is an experienced debater, comfortable with the ins and outs of policy, but her challenge tonight, to address issues of character and trustworthiness that have dogged her throughout this campaign. here's nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: hillary clinton bracing for the biggest moment of her political life, aides say leaving nothing on the table. even today a last-minute prep session, after late-night mock debates all weekend. rehearsing at 9:00 p.m. to adjust to the late-night start time, with former aide
philippe reines, a scrappy new yorker playing donald trump. >> you have 90 minutes and it's just a moderator and two of you on stage, you can run but you cannot hide. >> reporter: even with 40 debates under her belt, tonight's challenge for clinton, not knowing which trump will show up. so today she's also prepping for a gracious, polite trump, not the bombastic former reality tv star. >> i think she needs to be firm, not rude to trump. but i think she's got to point out the different views of the country regardless of whether he comes as the nice guy or the belligerent guy. >> reporter: clinton's chief mission, being more reliable to young voters, millennial form >> no one has any question about her intellect, her experience, the way she understands the world. i think what they need to see tonight is more what's in her heart and her gut. >> reporter: a vulnerability she's struggled with for years. >> they seem to like barack obama more. >> well, that hurts my feelings. [ laughter ] >> i don't think i'm that bad. >> you're likeable enough, hillary. >> thank you.
>> reporter: expect her to hit trump on his temperament, controversial statements about muslims, mexicans, and women and his praise for vladimir putin. raising the stakes for clinton tonight, new polls showing she's losing ground. trump has closed the gap in colorado, in a four-way race, now a virtual tie there, and in pennsylvania. a state clinton aides say is their firewall against a trump victory. her battle plan includes playing mind games with trump, inviting his rival mark cuban to sit in the front row, prompting trump to tweet he might invite gennifer flowers. with whom bill clinton once had an affair. trump's team ruled that out, but today a clinton aide trying to provoke trump, tweeting, if he can't handle mark cuban, how is he going to be commander in chief? tonight is such a big deal that bill clinton who is nearby and doesn't usually come to the debate hall, may actually show up tonight, aides say. what is harder to predict are the verbal gaffes or the body language that often tell voters a lot more
about a candidate than all those rehearsed statements. and of course it's hard to tell what's going to happen. this is the first presidential debate pitting a woman against a very unpredictable man. savannah? >> andrea mitchell, thank you. we want to bring in our other road weary xarnl -- campaign correspondent are correspondents, katy tur and and kristen welker. katy, who is trump trying to win over tonight? >> reporter: right now, he has a ceiling of about 40% in the polls and that's not enough to win in november. so what operatives say he needs to do, focus on those who still have their doubts. how? by not doing what he did in the primaries. by doing the opposite. by not letting trump be trump. focusing on what he has to offer and avoiding unnecessary attacks on hillary clinton, avoiding insults. proving to moderate republicans and women that he's not a risk. but trump is a wild card and anything can set him off. that's why you could see his most memorable line, his best zinger in the first 30 minutes of the debate, a headline grabber that could drown out a misstep or a gaffe later on, or a
potentially weak showing. remember, trump doesn't necessarily need to win these voters over. he'll settle on keeping them from voting for hillary clinton. savannah? >> katy tur outside the debate hall here. and kristen, as i turn to you, andrea mentioned one of the voting blocs that clinton needs to win over, young voters, millennial. so what's the plan? >> reporter: that's right. clinton is aiming for undecided and independent voters, especially younger voters. they were critical to the obama coalition in 2008 and 2012. and secretary clinton needs them to turn out in force in order to win the white house. right now, she is struggling a bit. remember, during the primary, they overwhelmingly went for senator bernie sanders. our latest nbc news/survey monkey online poll shows many of them are leaning toward third-party candidates, gary johnson getting 16% of millennial voters. so tonight the one top aide tells me the strategy is to talk about the issues they care about, issues like college affordability, climate
change, and also jobs. her other challenge is restoring trust while being relatable to a younger audience when the stakes couldn't be higher. savannah? >> kristen welker, thanks so much. and katy tur as well. a quick program guide as we watch tonight's debate, it's scheduled to last 90 minutes, no breaks. it will be divided into six 15-minute segments, the debate topics selected by the moderator, will include america's direction, achieving prosperity and securing america. hillary clinton won the coin toss and will get the first question. if you happen to notice a difference in those podiums, trump's is, in fact, higher, to make up for the ten-inch height difference between them. that brings us to our political moderator of "meal the press" chuck todd, and tom brokaw who needs no introduction. chuck, as i turn to you, it seems to me, neither candidate is coming in here cruising, hoping for
the status quo. they both need to put points on the board. >> a hundred percent. history says we hype these debates up, but they don't move the needle that much, that the trajectory of the race isn't changed. but this debate feels different. there's a lot of fluidity. i think the biggest is the point kristen welker was making. there's one in seven voters right now that say they're for gary johnson or jill stein. there's another 10% that are undecided. there's more fluidity for this race going into a first debate than any, i would argue going back to 1992 since ross perot, and frankly, this is why i'm looking forward to this debate as much as i was to that one. i don't think we've seen anything like it, nor a political environment like we're in. >> there are real stakes here. tom, as i turn to you, this is a "once every four year" ritual in our political system, yet it does feel in some sense historical with these two candidates. >> there are a lot of differences. they always have a built-in drama. everything up to this point has been an out-of-town try-out. now they're on stage. the first woman running for president a lifetime in public
service and politics, against a renegade who is a very successful investor in real estate and a reality television star who plays by an entirely different set of rules. something else to think about -- it's not just what we show tonight. there's going to be live streaming. people will be on social media. this new environment, atmosphere, that we live in, this universe, if you will, they'll have a lot to say. whether they can move the needle or not, i don't know. one thing i know about these debates, they always produce a surprise. chuck's tired of hearing me say this. the ufo is out there. the unforeseen will occur. i don't know what it is. >> a good note to leave it on. thanks so much. >> cue the "x-files music." we're all going to be here for the debate. it's moderated by our own lester holt, it starts 9:00 eastern, 6:00 pacific. >> we want to turn to other news now and the horror on the road today in houston. a gunman firing randomly at cars as people drove to work, injuring nine, before he was killed by police in a dramatic shoot-out. and investigators revealed late today that he had nazi paraphernalia among his belongings.
we get details from nbc's blake mccoy. >> reporter: the morning commute turned terrifying in this quiet houston neighborhood. a gunman opening fire for 20 minutes. >> jeez. >> reporter: randomly shooting at drivers near a strip mall. >> i was driving to the gym as usual and suddenly just felt like an explosion inside of my car. and glass everywhere. i heard a few pops, maybe two or three, could smell the powder and hot air from the bullets just flying by. >> reporter: six people shot, a total of nine injured. the gunman killed in a shoot-out with police. >> multiple officers engaged the suspect, who was shooting randomly at passersby as well as anybody he could put his sights on. >> reporter: police say he carried out the attack with a military-style uniform and nazi emblems were found on some of his belongings. the neighborhood was put on lockdown, residents told to shelter in place.
jennifer moleda's husband's car was hit. she said two bullets went through his windshield, right by his face. >> he was screaming, crying, i'm hit, jen, i'm hit. >> reporter: police say the shooter's car, a black porsche was found nearby. he had two guns and 2,600 rounds of live ammunition. officials have not named the gunman, but say he was a lawyer who lived in the neighborhood and recently had issues with his law firm. police say they're investigating the suspect's problems at work and law enforcement sources tell nbc news, they do not believe the shooter has any connections to terrorism. with the motive still unclear, this is a community shaken and on edge. at least two of the victims remain in the hospital, one in critical condition. savannah? >> blake mccoy in houston for us, thank you. in the midwest, deadly floods have 13 iowa counties under states of emergency tonight. the rivers there are rising. businesses are submerged as the floodwaters move
downstream toward cedar rapids. thousands of residents have been told to evacuate. hundreds of national guard troops are helping to secure the city and there's more misery to the south in antonio, where torrential rains led to a number of water rescues today. still ahead here tonight, hail to the king. so many tributes rolling in for golf legend arnold palmer. we'll have a look back at his amazing life and incredible career on the course. also, from nixon's perspiration to gore's sighs, the gaffs of debates past that the candidates must avoid here tonight.
we're back now with a tribute to an american icon. golfing great arnold palmer died on sunday in pittsburgh. he was 87. a true class act, palmer was credited with bringing the game out of the country clubs and to the masses. he became a legend over a career that spanned five decades. nbc's joe fryer now with a look back. >> reporter: they called him the king. not the kind who rules over people. quite the opposite. arnold palmer was the man who took an elite sport and made it a pastime for all. >> arnold palmer was the first superstar of the television era in golf and he had a personal magnetism that almost burst through and black-and-white television screen. >> a birdie for arnold. >> reporter: it's even said palmer sold a million color tvs, he was that popular, parading across the fairway, flanked by loyal fans, known as arnie's army.
>> got to thank god for the game of golf and what it has meant to me. >> reporter: his strong yet unorthodox swing was far from textbook, his career was one for the history books. palmer won seven majors, often battling his on-course rival and off-course friend jack nicklaus. >> when i heard the news last night, i just was crushed. it just sort of felt like a part of my life went with it. >> we all try, but we all never live up to his standard. >> he made the difficult look easy. >> reporter: he paved the way for generations of stars, including tiger woods, who says, he meant so much to the game and to me personally. i knew that i could always call him for advice. palmer's legacy never stopped growing, whether through his multimillion dollar golf empire, or his trademark drink, a mix of lemonade and iced tea. across 87 years, arnold palmer kept his scores below par and his life well above average. joe fryer, nbc news.
the suspect in a washington state mall shooting that left five people dead has reportedly confessed. 20-year-old arcan cetin appeared in court today. according to court documents, he admitted entering the mall with the rifle on friday and shooting those five people. he was caught on saturday after a massive manhunt. the motive is still a mystery tonight. and he faces five counts of murder, bail set at $2 million. the miami marlins are taking the field tonight with heavy hearts. their first game following the death of star pitcher jose fernandez in a boating accident. every player will wear his jersey number, 16, tonight. fernandez and two others were killed when their boat struck a jetty on sunday morning.
the boat was registered to fernandez, but it's unclear who was driving and that crash remains under investigation. bad weather put a damper on the royal family's visit to canada. william and kate were forced to cancel an aerial tour of a rainforest in british columbia. for princess charlotte this is her first royal tour, but all eyes were on older brother george, when he shut down canadian prime minister justin trudeau's request for a high five. and when we come back, debate gaffes, those little moments that can make a big difference on a night like this.
tonight the debate the nation has been waiting for. lester hole moderates the first presidential debates, tonight live on nbc. ♪ and that's a live look at the stage, hofstra university, the site of what is arguably the most anticipated event in modern political history. with so many eyes on donald trump and hillary clinton, the pressure is on to avoid any unforced errors on the debate stage. as our peter alexander explains, those unexpected moments can often make or break a candidate. >> reporter: it's the highest of high wire acts, 90 minutes in front of a national
audience, uninterrupted. on this stage, how you appear, sometimes matters more than what you say. take the first televised presidential debate 56 years ago today. kennedy looking poised. nixon famously wiping away sweat. tonight the debate hall will be cool, including air conditioning vents equally spaced above the candidates. even the slightest wrong move on stage can leave a mark. like president bush appearing disinterested, checking his watch. al gore not faring much better against george w. bush. the vice president rolling his eyes and engaging in what viewed as an attempt at intimidation that left some voters unimpressed. to make up for a ten-inch height difference in this match-up, trump's podium is slightly taller than clinton's. unlike past years, there's no signed agreement between campaigns on mechanics, which means nothing stops the candidates from asking each other questions, calling out someone in the audience, or even declining to participate in the remaining debates.
ultimately one glaring gaffe can bring down an entire campaign. take gerald ford in 1976, during the cold war. >> there is no soviet domination of eastern europe. >> reporter: a good line can defuse a liability. for reagan, his age. >> i am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience. [ laughter ] >> reporter: tonight after months of fierce attacks, an unpredictable face-off. their first real face to face interaction since trump's wedding 11 years ago. peter alexander, nbc news, hempstead, new york. >> that's going to do it for us on a monday night. a reminder, the presidential debate airing live right here on nbc, 9:00 eastern, 6:00 pacific. i'm savannah guthrie. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching, and have a good evening. from the debate...hillary
clinton and donald trump -- will take the stage in just moments. raj/shot we'll bring you the debate live -- right here in nbc bay area. janelle/2shot but first -- an update on the wildfire that can be seen across the south bay. live the fire, now 400-to 0 acres,isz mountains, south of los gatos. 300 structures threatened. evacuations orders underway along summit road and the surrounding area. sidemap this fire started around 3 pm nr the intsection oloma prieta and loma chiquita roads. right now, the fire is still out of control. containment at zero. we'll continue to follow this fire across all our digital platforms. raj/live let's now turn things over to o-
who'll be moderating this presidential debate. hillary clinton and donald trump -- are ready to take center it's time to vote for america and america first. >> america's destiny is ours to choose. >> we will make america safe again. >> we join together to get rid of the threats we face. >> jobs, jobs, jobs. >> i will be a president for all americans. >> from nbc news. decision 2016. the first presidential debate. live from hofstra university in hempstead, new york. here now, savannah guthrie and chuck todd. >> and good evening, everybody. nice to have you with us. chuck, after all the hype, all theep