Obama, Romney Facing High Stakes in First Debate

Posted October 3rd, 2012 at 7:05 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will confront each other Wednesday in the first of three scheduled nationally televised debates of the 2012 presidential race.

With just five weeks remaining before the November 6 election, Mr. Obama is entering the debate with a lead over Mr. Romney in voter opinion polls both nationally and in several so-called battleground states that are expected to decide the election.

Mr. Romney, a retired multi-millionaire businessman and former governor of Massachusetts, has lost ground since a secretly recorded video surfaced earlier this month that showed him telling wealthy supporters that 47 percent of Americans, who will vote for the president “no matter what,” pay no taxes and consider themselves “victims” entitled to government support.

Both men spent Tuesday behind closed doors engaged in final practice sessions. Mr. Obama spent a second day with his campaign advisers at a resort in Nevada, while Mr. Romney was in nearby Denver, Colorado, the site of Wednesday's debate.

Both campaigns attempted to take advantage of inadvertent remarks and new revelations Tuesday. The Romney campaign said Vice President Joe Biden's remarks at a campaign rally in North Carolina that middle-income Americans have been “buried” by the anemic U.S. economy over the last four years was an admission that the Obama administration's economic policies have failed. The Obama campaign called attention to a published report in The New York Times that suggested that Mr. Romney's overseas financial holdings have made him a profit and allowed him to reduce his income tax rate.

Wednesday's debate at the University of Denver will be devoted to domestic issues, such as the economy and health care.

Foreign policy issues will be covered in the second and third debates, scheduled for October 16 and October 22.

Analysts say the debates could be Mr. Romney's best and last chance to revive his campaign and change the direction of the race.


Peter Eyre, Commission on Presidential Debates:

“What we're doing now is, as you can see behind me, the stage is built, the set is ready and we'll use today to fine tune the lighting, the sound, check our back-up systems and make sure everything is ready for tomorrow night when Governor Romney and President Obama will meet on the stage behind me.”

6. (English) Peter Eyre, Commission on Presidential Debates:

“We've been using this set behind me since really 1988 and obviously we've been improving it, enhancing over the years. But the set is designed by the Commission and that's what we've been using. The campaigns and the candidates have really no input into how the set looks and feels, the formats, things like that. Those are decisions made by the Commission.”

8. Peter Eyre, Commission on Presidential Debates:

“So the Commission on Presidential Debates is a non-partisan, non-profit entity based in Washington DC. The primary mission of the Commission on Presidential Debates is to host and sponsor the general election debates between the leading candidates for the office of president and vice president. We also do work internationally with countries that are trying to get their debates off the ground. And those are really the two things that we focus on. We take our role very seriously and we're thrilled to be here at the University of Denver for the debate on Wednesday.”

10. Peter Eyre, Commission on Presidential Debates:

“So what's different about the format is that we are dividing the hour-and-a-half debate into six discussion segments. So there will be fewer questions but more extended discussion that dives into certain issues in detail. And we think that those extended discussion periods will help the viewers around the world really get a sense of the candidates views on the key issues of the day.” ))