The first presidential debate will last for 90 minutes but the post-debate spin from both candidates and their supporters will go on for days. As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s teams try to shape perceptions of who won, they will give an indication of how they think their candidate did.

One Republican consultant told the Washington Examiner to pay attention to who the campaigns dispatch to spin the results. “Is it one of their more optimistic messengers? Is it an attack dog?” he asked. “That will tell you how they think they did.”

A campaign that feels it has to do aggressive pushback, the consultant said, probably doesn’t feel as good about its candidate’s performance. The stronger the performance, the less spin they will think they need.

Both candidates have their tells. When things are going badly for Trump, he tends to cry foul against the “rigged” system. He suggested that Ted Cruz cheated when the Texas senator beat him in Iowa. He said the polls and even the eventual November vote count were biased against him when he was down big in August.

“Nov. 8, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged,” he said at an August rally in Columbus, Ohio. “People are going to walk in and they’re going to vote 10 times, maybe, who knows?”

Trump has also been known to tee off on the moderators when he doesn’t think he is treated fairly. He had a weeks-long feud with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly after the first Republican debate and refused to appear in the final debate before the Iowa caucuses because Kelly was set to reprise her role as a moderator.

Berating the moderator may not work as well in a general election as in a Republican primary. But Hillary Clinton has been known to work the refs too.

Clinton’s surrogates and media allies savaged Matt Lauer after he moderated the Commander in Chief forum, disparaging his interview with the former secretary of state and accusing him of not pushing back hard enough against Trump.

Whatever your view of the merits of the complaints, team Clinton would probably not have gone after the “Today Show” host to quite the same degree if they felt good about how the forum went for their candidate.

Jill Stein escorted by police away from debate

Also from the Washington Examiner

But not being able to have a physical presence on the stage isn’t stopping Stein from being able to “participate” in the event.

09/26/16 7:47 PM

They have now launched several preemptive strikes against debate moderator Lester Holt, warning him to be tougher on Trump than Lauer was. The Clinton campaign said failure to fact-check Trump during the debate would give the Republican nominee an “unfair advantage.”

“All that we’re asking is that, if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said. “It’s unfair to ask for Hillary both to play traffic cop while with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people.”

When no less a Clinton loyalist than George Stephanopoulos asked if that was not the role of a debater rather than a debate moderator, Mook replied, “Well, I think Donald Trump’s special.”

If there is a full court press against Holt after the debate by the Clinton campaign and Clinton-friendly opinion leaders, it will be an indication they do not think the encounter went well. Similarly, if Trump’s supporters don’t like the way Holt treated their candidate, they will be sure to let him know.

Trump and Clinton surrogates are likely to claim their candidates won the debate no matter what. But their tone and treatment of the moderator will tell us what they really think.

Trump hands Twitter off to his 'team of deplorables' for debate

Also from the Washington Examiner

Donald Trump’s campaign will take over his Twitter account for the duration of the first presidential debate.

09/26/16 7:36 PM

At debate time, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump locked in dead heat

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Both campaigns have dueled over the role of the moderator and tried to spin expectations.

09/26/16 5:38 PM

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