Wednesday, October 3, 2012

POLITICS - Obama vs. Romney: A guide to the first presidential debate
Tonight, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will face off in the first of three presidential debates tonight. Below, The Star-Ledger looks at what to expect.
Time: 9-10:30 p.m.
Place: University of Denver in Colorado
Moderator: Jim Lehrer of PBS
Topic: Domestic policy
Mitt Romney, trailing in the polls, needs a strong showing in the first of three debates to try to narrow President Obama’s lead. The Republican challenger is likely to come on strong, while Obama will probably try to appear steady, in control and presidential.
The hour-and-a-half debate is likely to cover such issues as health care, immigration, Washington gridlock, and the economy — encompassing taxes, the deficit, economic growth, unemployment and Social Security.
Romney — In 19 primary debates, he knocked out one Republican challenger after another by striking a balance between harsh attacks and cool responses. The challenge now for Romney, who has been prepping for weeks, is to avoid gaffes like the $10,000 bet he offered Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a tense moment.
Obama — In 2008, Obama fended off two skilled debaters in U.S. Sens. John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton, but he has apparently prepared less than Romney and says he’s rusty.
Romney — He’ll have to walk a fine line in criticizing the Obama health care law since it closely resembles what he did as governor of Massachusetts. And his videotaped remarks portraying 47 percent of voters as tax evaders and slackers could come back to haunt him.
Obama — Cool or aloof? For the president, there’s a line between seeming even-tempered and dismissive, a trait that doesn’t play well on television. In addition, he has conceded he hasn’t transformed the culture of Washington, as he promised as a candidate in 2008.EXPECTATIONS
Romney — There’s a mixed message, thanks largely to Gov. Chris Christie, who on NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday boasted, "Come Thursday morning, the entire narrative of this campaign is going to change." Others close to Romney have been managing expectations. For example, his vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, said on "Fox News Sunday," "(Obama’s) been on the national stage for many years. He’s an experienced debater. This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of a stage."
Obama — The president joked this week that "it’s a drag" having to prepare for the debate and said: "Governor Romney is a good debater. I’m just okay."
Romney — When he was challenging Ted Kennedy in 1994, the Massachusetts senator bashed Romney in a televised debate for having few specifics in his tax plan. Romney countered that he didn’t have the Congressional Budget Office to crunch numbers for him, a defense not likely to work against Obama.
Obama — In a memorable moment in 2008, Obama cut off Hillary Rodham Clinton in a moment of weakness, glanced up from his notes and let slip what he thought of his opponent, "You’re likable enough."
Quinnipiac/NY Times/CBS
Colorado: 48 Obama, 47 Romney
Florida: 53 Obama, 44 Romney
Ohio: 53 Obama, 43 Romney
Pennsylvania: 54 Obama, 42 Romney
North Carolina: 48 Obama, 46 Romney
Nevada: 49 Obama, 47 Romney

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