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Wednesday's debate could bring the demise of the spousal handshake

Las Vegas - The pre-debate protocol that brought us frosty handshakes between Bill Clinton and Melania Trump at the last two showdowns appears to be another tradition upended by this presidential contest.

Unnerved by Donald Trump's penchant for showmanship - after all, the Republican paraded three women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault at the last debate - top advisers to the Democrat's campaign told The New York Times they pushed to change how the two spouses enter the arena.

From The Times:

But the Clinton side is not taking any chances at the final presidential debate, on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, and has apparently gained approval of a different protocol for the entry of the candidates’ spouses and families into the debate hall.

The new arrangement calls for the candidates’ spouses to enter the hall closer to their seats, rather than crossing the room, and each other’s paths.

That would avoid any potential for confrontations, given Mr. Trump’s penchant for dramatic stunts.

The bigger question may be whether the two candidates dispense with the formalities as well. Trump and Clinton shook hands ahead of the first debate on Long Island, but skipped the greeting at the onset of the second debate in St. Louis, instead standing awkwardly side-by-side each other for a few moments. (They did shake hands at the end of the 90-minute showdown.)

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.