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OFF TO THE RACES: Big day, big stakes

It’s the big day. NBC’s Benjy Sarlin and Alex Seitz-Wald unpack all you need to know about tonight’s big debate showdown.

Catching up on what the big policy differences are between the candidates? Leigh Ann Caldwell and Jane Timm have this briefer on the biggest potential clashes.

Jane Timm has the comprehensive list of all of Trump’s major policy changes here.

And has one stop shopping for all of our debate coverage at

The debates will be a major influence for a third of voters, writes the Wall Street Journal.

The AP boils it down: "Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have competing missions heading into Monday night's leadoff debate of the general election campaign: Hers to overcome the trust questions that have bedeviled her for decades. His to convince voters that he has the good judgment and restraint required of a president."

The New York Times looks at how Clinton aides studied Trump’s personality to prepare her for the debate.

The Washington Post has a helpful five-things-to-watch here.

Issues of race and gender are all but sure to prompt fiery moments tonight, the New York Times notes.

Kellyanne Conway previewed Trump’s defense of his comments about problems facing the black community.

ICYMI: The New York Times endorsed Clinton. And the editorial board is also out with a critique of why "Donald Trump should not be president.”

Bernie Sanders will hit the road with Clinton to try to sell her college plan.

A new poll from Bloomberg shows a tied race in the head-to-head contest, with Trump inching ahead in the 4-way contest.

And CNN/ORC has new polls in Colorado and Pennsylvania that suggest a tight race in both states.

As Trump’s drag on the down ballot has lessened, Senate Democrats aren’t as hopeful about their chances.

POLITICO writes that Obama’s team isn’t laughing at Trump’s campaign anymore.

New data shows that more Americans are climbing out of poverty.