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Tom's Corner - A Fact-Free Debate?

Photo: Hillary Clinton / Gage Skidmore / CC by 2.0

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - After what seems like nearly forever, the campaigns for the presidency of the United States are in the home stretch.

In just four days--Monday night--the first of two debates between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump. And it's likely to be the most watched debate in history.

Then Election Day, November 8, is just 43 days after that.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, our Tom Van Howe says the key to watching the debate is to figure out which one is telling the truth.

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Well, it's off to a great start. This morning on Fox and Friends--where else--Donald Trump told the debate moderator, Lester Holt of NBC, that he should not engage in fact-checking. Trump said Holt should just let them argue it out.

What an approach; the candidate who is most likely to ignore facts doesn't want anyone checking what he says.

Trump is the candidate the New York Times described as a "liar" a few days ago. A clearly loaded word that the times has been reluctant to use.

But when he finally admitted last week that Obama was, in fact, born in the United States, he followed it by blaming the birther movement on Hillary Clinton.

It was a statement not just "at odds with the facts," or "factually inaccurate," as the Times would prefer to say. It was just an outright lie.

Trump started it, and ran with it for five years. He offered a $5 million reward to anyone who could produce President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Seems he owes the president $5 million.

Trump responded to accusations that he uses his foundation to pay personal bills by saying his foundation does a lot of good things.

Trump has been awarded the four-pinocchio award from the Washington Post fact-checking team more than 50 times. If he was a child, his teachers would be consulting with his parents.

The trouble is, Hillary is no slouch at playing fast and loose with facts either.

She lied when she said she'd turned over all the e-mails she was obligated to turn over to the FBI. She didn't. She said there was no classified material in her unsecured e-mails. There was. She said her answers to the FBI were truthful and consistent with what she'd already told the American people. They weren't.

She said during a trip to Bosnia she had to dodge bullets and run with her head down to get to the safety of awaiting vehicles. Not true. She explained decades ago that she'd made a ten-thousand percent profit on her commodity investments thanks to the Wall Street Journal. Highly unlikely.

So, she has this history. But, frankly, she doesn't hold a candle to Trump.

He opposed the war in Iraq. He saw thousands of Muslims dancing in the streets the day the twin towers came down. He says Hillary wants to abolish the second amendment and then release all violent criminals from prison. He says Mexico sent us all their criminals. All of it untrue.

He wonders, if we have all these nuclear weapons, why we don't use them.

He has been unrelenting in his spewing as fact whatever falsehoods slide out from his cranium. And he seems not to care that he has been constantly caught telling weird, unnecessary lies.

He's already claimed that the election is rigged against him, while acknowledging that he has gotten more free TV time than any candidate in history. Sean Hannity, the FOX News host, has literally been campaigning for him.

From the beginning, anyone who disagrees with him is a loser, crooked, a left-winger, or a liar.

More realistically, by claiming the game is rigged, he's laying the groundwork for a defeat in November.

So it's no wonder Trump doesn't want Lester Holt fact-checking him during the debate. It might screw up what he does best.

Trump has already complained that Holt is a democrat. For the record, Holt is a registered republican.

That this debate is unusual is underscored by the fact that 58 percent of the voting public don't like Trump, and 55 percent don't like Clinton.

As pointed out in a Washington Post column a couple of days ago, only 11 percent believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy. Fourteen percent believe Bigfoot exists.

Nonetheless, when the debate begins Monday night, I'll be looking for the one who seems to have the best handle on the facts, on what the candidate wants to achieve in office and how he or she plans on getting it done.

We do have to choose one of them. Not voting really isn't an option.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

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