Tuesday’s presidential debate will be a town hall meeting, a very different feel than the initial vice presidential and presidential contests. President Obama and Mitt Romney will be asked prescreened questions from the audience and will be judged on their substance and their interactions with the spectators. Romney’s clear victory in the first debate was reflected in the polls. Romney changed his 3.3-point deficit to Obama nationally into a virtual tie going into Tuesday’s debate, according to Real Clear Politics. Consequently, Obama must be more aggressive and assertive Tuesday night to rebound from his defeat. As the Wall Street Journal points out, however, the town hall format will make it difficult for both candidates to directly attack each other, adding more intrigue to the contest.
For Obama: Brookings and Washington Post Opinion Writer E.J Dionne explains, “As he tries to engineer a comeback in this week’s presidential debate, President Obama needs to recognize two things. First, when it comes to politics, Mitt Romney treats himself as a product, not a person. Second, Republicans cannot defend their proposals in terms that are acceptable to a majority of voters. You can imagine Romney someday saying: ‘Politicians are products, my friend.’”
Likewise, Obama must demand specifics from Romney’s tax plan but also must press him on foreign policy. Romney champions his business experience to bolster his qualifications to steward the economy, but on foreign policy Obama’s four years as commander and chief trumps anything in Romney’s past. This is a great opportunity for Obama to paint himself as the logical choice when it comes to foreign affairs and as the only candidate with a credible and specific economic plan.
For Romney: The formula is clear according to the Wall Street Journal stating that “Mr. Romney, meanwhile, has to balance taking a forceful tone with the president while ensuring the voters feel like he is connecting with them and directly responding to their questions, aides said.”
Romney is always attacked for being disconnected with the individual voter and this town hall is his opportunity to show the American people that he can effectively address individual concerns. Romney has the momentum going into Tuesday and must continue it. He cannot stand idly to Obama’s attacks if he is serious about winning in November. Romney needs to show his legitimacy as a foreign policy leader to distinguish himself from the president.
For Candy Crowley: As the first woman to moderate a presidential debate, she wont take it lightly and will be sure to be on her game. Besides, it shouldn’t be difficult to be better than Jim Lehrer.
The debate will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, from 9:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m., moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley. For live coverage, including real-time analysis, live stream, and updates, follow along here