Chances are, Tuesday night is as close as Ernest Moniz will ever get to the presidency.
Moniz, the current Energy secretary, was the administration’s “designated survivor” — the Cabinet member assigned to hide in an undisclosed location in case, heaven forbid, the worst were to occur while Congress and the rest of the administration assembled for the State of the Union address.
But what would the Moniz administration have looked like?
For one, it would have been the first captained by a physicist: Prior to joining the Obama administration in 2013, Moniz was a professor of physics and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds a Stanford University doctorate in theoretical physics. And if past is prologue, Moniz wouldn’t shy away from talking science.
His latest post on the Energy Department blog is titled “Wide Bandgap Semiconductors: Essential to Our Technology Future.” Those looking for lighter fare can refer to his earlier work: “New Steps to Strengthen Our Energy Infrastructure.”
Moniz is not a politician, but he’s not a novice to governing either. He served as the Energy Department’s undersecretary during the second half of President Clinton’s tenure. And in his policy, he’s been the type of compromiser who makes just about everybody mad: Environmental groups have been wary of his embrace of natural gas, while he probably didn’t endear himself to the Right by declaring that he’s “not interested in debating what is not debatable” when it comes to human-induced climate change.
More than anything else, however, Moniz has drawn attention for his hair, which is a mix of President Washington, Back to the Future‘s Doc Brown, and Javier Bardem’s serial-killing character in No Country for Old Men.
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"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."
NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.
"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”