The second debate has now assumed far more significance after a strong performance by the Republican challenger in Round 1 appears to have altered the dynamics of the race.
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will faceoff for the second time in 13 days in a crucial presidential debate on Tuesday night at the Hofstra University campus, just 25 miles to the east of New York City. The second debate has now assumed far more significance after a strong performance by the Republican challenger in Round 1 appears to have altered the dynamics of the race.
Until the first debate in Denver on October 3, Obama was leading in nearly all the polls and he had also enjoyed commanding leads in the key battleground states. Since then, several national tracking polls have shown the former Massachusetts governor to be slightly ahead of the president, even though Obama still leads in critical battleground states.
All guns blazing
While the former Massachusetts governor would like to pick up from where he left off in Denver, the president is expected to come out swinging, going after his opponent on a range of issues.
In the first debate, Obama had taken the high road, not responding to many of the charges levelled by Romney, who was on the attack whistle to whistle. But on Tuesday, the roles may be reversed with the president almost certain to go on the offensive.
The Obama campaign has said that their candidate will go after Romney, among other issues, his stewardship of the private equity firm Bain Capital. While creating wealth for its investors – including Romney, who may now be worth a quarter of a billion dollars – the private equity firm had laid off thousands off workers and employed a controversial tactic known as “leveraged buyouts”, which sank many of the companies it acquired.
Democrats had hammered Romney on the issue – as well as on his refusal to release more than two years of his tax returns – much of the summer and it seemingly paid dividends in states such as Ohio, where the president has been leading in polls for months now.
Women’s health is another issue where one can expect a lot of fireworks from the president. Romney, who was pro-choice when he ran for Senate from Massachusetts in the 1990s, later became a staunch pro-life candidate in his subsequent races. In recent weeks, he seems to have toned down his abortion position a little bit to appeal to the general electorate.
American Town Hall
Romney is likely to denounce Obama on Libya and Iran, although foreign policy has been a strongpoint of the current incumbent of the White House because of the capture and killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden under his watch and the pullout of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, two issues he ran on in 2008.
Tuesday’s is the only presidential debate that is in a town hall format, in which members of the audience – in addition to the moderator – ask questions. Because of the interactivity involved in it, the candidate more at ease in public settings normally has the advantage in town hall-style debates.
Maths Of Moderation
While Obama is the more natural of the two politicians, the Denver debate was his first one in four years, which may have led to him being a little rusty in the first matchup, as his own advisers pointed out. Romney, on the other hand, was involved in 10 debates during the Republican primaries.
Besides the two candidates, all eyes are also on the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in two decades. Jim Lehrer, a veteran PBS anchor who moderated the first debate, was widely criticised for letting the candidates control much of the proceedings.
In contrast, the moderator of last week’s vice-presidential debate, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, received high marks for her commanding presence on stage and tough questioning. In New York, many expect Crowley to be more like Raddatz than Lehrer.