Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at NBC’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum.” (Screen shots via NBC)

On Sept. 26

, people across the country will see the first of this election season’s presidential debates—but whether any third-party candidate will be standing on that stage is still a question. This week, we were treated to a “sneak preview” of a possible Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton match, while candidates of the Green and Libertarian parties received their own share of headlines (although not for the most positive reasons). Here is a recap of some of the week’s top political news.

In the middle of the week, Clinton and Trump dominated the media circus when they appeared on NBC’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum” on Wednesday night. Truthdig Deputy Editor Kasia Anderson, who handled our live blog coverage of the event, summed up the candidates’ performance:

So, nothing too surprising out of Clinton in a careful and by-the-book (a book straight out of Washington’s innermost chambers, that is), steady showing. Those who support her will call her performance clearly worthy of the presidential seal; those who disagree with her and still don’t buy her email-scandal or Benghazi explanations are likely to come away as they went in. Kind of like the candidate herself.

Not so for Donald Trump. His tendency toward using generalizations where details were called for, plus the very bravado and sloganeering that worked in the primary debates and still lands well in stump speeches, came across as gloss-over attempts that are likely to raise additional concerns and still more questions from his adversaries, and perhaps even from his allies. He will need to bone up on his ability to articulate clear policy proposals in time for the first presidential debate later this month in order to convince voters that his boardroom experience will serve him—not to mention their best interests—in the Situation Room.

Matt Lauer, the forum’s moderator, was harshly criticized for his questions—or lack thereof. “Lauer failed to ask the necessary tough questions or follow-ups,” Jon Queally of Common Dreams wrote, “with many suggesting the forum was a lesson in how not to inform voters or put a check on those seeking high office.”

Lauer wasn’t the only one who had a tough week on screen. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential nominee, stunned audiences with his answer when he was asked about Aleppo—the city at the epicenter of the Syrian conflict—on an MSNBC interview. “And what is Aleppo?” he quipped, leading critics to question whether he has the foreign-policy acumen needed to run the country.

Meanwhile, the Green Party faced ups and downs of its own. Jill Stein, the party’s presidential nominee, and running mate Ajamu Baraka spent the beginning of the week in North Dakota alongside the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. While other presidential nominees dressed their best to appear on television screens across the country, Stein and Baraka participated in protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.

They only began to make headlines when it was found that a warrant had been issued for their arrest after the two engaged in acts of vandalism by spray-painting messages of protest on construction equipment. While this may not sound like the best reason for getting in the news, mainstream media publications that have made a pattern of ignoring the Green Party candidate were suddenly highlighting Stein’s campaign.

Throughout the week’s insanity, Truthdig continued to analyze underreported aspects of the election season. Our own Bill Boyarsky shone a light on economic inequality and the struggles of the working class in a new report—a theme once championed by Bernie Sanders that has now dissipated from election dialogue. Boyarsky also joined us in our Los Angeles offices for an in-depth discussion on the presidential election. Meanwhile, Editor in Chief Robert Scheer offered a sharp critique of President Obama’s $90 million pledge to Laos, labeling the sum “chump change.”

For some politicians (and journalists), this was a week of missteps. With the presidential debates fast approaching, we want to hear from you: Which topic most needs to be addressed in the first debate?

Let us know in the poll below. We’ve provided some topics based on the news from this week, but you can also select “Other” and type in your own answer—we want to know what we’ve missed! One vote per person, please. (Make your selection and then click on “Vote.” To see results of the polling, click on “Results.”)

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Which topic most needs to be addressed in the first presidential debate?
Climate change
Income inequality
U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East
The health care system
Please Specify:
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