Good afternoon and welcome to first debate night. Today’s points:

  • The yin and yang of the LI delegation
  • Trump rallying
  • Debate drinking game — how drunk do you want to be?

Daily Point

A political epicenter

On his way to a stint on CNN Monday afternoon, Democrat Steve Israel marveled at how Long Island is the “center of the universe.” But the congressman noted that though Monday night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is a key moment, there’s still plenty of campaign to go — and a lot more can happen.

But Peter King, a Republican, told The Point that the debate could end up being the defining moment of the election season — adding that it’s Trump’s to win or lose. Trump, said King, needs to show leadership, good judgment and a “basic knowledge of the facts.”

“If they break even in the debate, he wins,” King said. “It’s all up to him.”

But even before the debate begins, it’s Long Island that’s the winner.

Said King: “The whole world is going to be watching.”

Rita Ciolli and Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

Trump’s calling

On a bus on the way to Hofstra University this afternoon, there was Suffolk County Republican Party chairman and noted Donald Trump surrogate John Jay LaValle in a seat up front, feverishly working his cellphone.

LaValle said Trump’s campaign called Monday morning and asked him to set up a rally at the Long Island Marriott for 11 p.m., a half-hour after the scheduled end of the debate.

“I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off,” LaValle said, while admitting it was a go, and that he was preparing for an interview on CNN as soon as the bus reached the debate center.

When someone remarked about the interesting turns of life, LaValle said, “Eight months ago, I could not have imagined this.”

Michael Dobie

Pencil Point

Golf swing

Debate Point

Inside the circus tent

By early Monday afternoon, the media filing center was filling up and already bustling on the Hofstra University campus. Each of 30 rows had dozens of seats and four TV screens per row, all showing different cable channels.

At the Facebook Live station, the three-camera studio was booked for media appearances from 10 a.m. until after midnight. The less-outfitted iPhone station was still available, a representative said, but filling up.

Meanwhile, journalists took quick snaps of the spin space at the front of the room. On opposite corners were a “Stronger Together” station for Clinton supporters and a “Make America Great Again” tent for Trump advocates.

CNN media reporter Brian Stelter strode in wearing aviator sunglasses against the warm afternoon sun, getting his own shot in front of the inspiring words on the wall in Hofstra’s facility: CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE WON IN THE OFF-SEASON.

For many of the thousands of journalists in the room, the offseason couldn’t come soon enough.

Mark Chiusano

Quick Points

Get the popcorn ready

— Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says Donald Trump is the Babe Ruth of debating. By which she means he’s a swaggering, larger-than-life, overweight New Yorker who has his name on a Gotham landmark (Trump Tower, House that Ruth Built) and who is the epitome of the Sultan of Swat (the Babe hit baseballs, Trump hit other GOP candidates).

— So you say you can’t believe Donald Trump responded to news that Trump troll Mark Cuban would be sitting in the first row at Monday night’s debate by threatening to give a similar ticket to former Bill Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers? Really, you can’t believe that?

— Interesting that in these times of political polarization and fragmentation in America, hardly anything brings us together in front of our TV sets like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

— If Monday night’s debate is reminiscent of an old-time heavyweight title fight, Donald Trump is probably hoping for a rumble in the jungle, while Hillary Clinton pines for rope-a-dope.

— One standard piece of pre-debate analysis is that Hillary Clinton has to convince viewers that she’s honest and trustworthy. Trump doesn’t?

— Folks on Capitol Hill told Politico they’ll be watching to see how the debate affects down-ballot contests. They’ll be the only ones.

— Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s campaign says that by answering debate questions in real time on Periscope Monday night, she will “literally” insert herself into the debate. That’s true, if by literally she means figuratively.

Michael Dobie

Drinking Point

Cheers to the debate

There is something about this 2016 campaign that might lead all us to lift up a glass. So let’s drink Monday night during the debate. Here are our categories: Are we talking primly sober, a little tipsy, had a bit too much, or totally out of your mind? The game, of course, is to drink when you hear a specific phrase. Click here to drink along.

Lane Filler