HOUSTON - On this night, just 11 days from the election, a final face-to-face confrontation in Nashville between Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, who pollsters say is trailing and needs a strong showing on the national debate stage to shift the momentum.
Rice Political analyst Mark Jones believes Trump has an opportunity to energize latent supporters, but only if he refrains from the frequent interruption which marred his effort in the first debate.
"At this point, it's doubtful that Trump's going to really convince anybody who is voting for Biden to switch over, but what he can do is make sure people who support him and agree with him but are unsure about turning out to vote actually do go vote for him. So he needs to give them a reason to be optimistic or at least angry at Joe Biden," said Jones.
As for the former vice president, top aides are advising a measured approach with an undistracted focus on confronting the stubborn pandemic, protecting those with pre-existing conditions and regenerating a crippled economy.
Well-known Democrat Mike Collier is advising the Biden campaign in Texas.
He believes if the President relies on personal insults and a laundry list of grievances, it won't play well with a national debate audience weary of the status quo.
"It's really just drama on top of crisis and I think people are just exhausted and I think that is another reason that it's a very real possibility Biden will carry Texas. I think that more than anything people just want to get their lives back to normal and I think Joe Biden represents that," said Collier.