What to expect from the 2nd presidential debate

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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will participate in the second debate of the presidential race at Hofstra University in a town-hall setting Tuesday night.

The town hall debate will be moderated by CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, and undecided voters will be asking questions about foreign and domestic policy, with Crowley directing the discussion between candidates.

After a disappointing performance at the first presidential debate in Colorado two weeks ago, Pres. Obama will be looking for an opportunity to show voters more energy, passion and desire in Tuesday's debate as he attempts to convince voters he deserves a second term in the White House.

"He knew when he walked off the stage and he also knew as he's watched the tape of that debate that he's got to be more energetic," Robert Gibbs said on CNN's State of the Union. "I think you'll see somebody who's passionate about the choice that our country faces and putting that choice in front of voters."

"The president is his own harshest critic and he knows Mitt Romney had a better night at the first debate," added campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki. "The American people should expect to see a much more energized President Obama making a passionate case for why he is a better choice for the middle class."


While the stakes are high for both candidates, especially with national and state polling numbers tightening, it is arguably more important for Pres. Obama to have a good performance at the debate. As the incumbent president who has not fulfilled all the promises he made during his first term in office, he must lay out a good plan for his second term.

Pres. Obama has the challenge of convincing the American people that the next four years will not be like the past four, in which unemployment rates were above eight percent national and families worked to overcome a deep recession. If the president can't advance a plan in a convincing manner to the American people in the debate, voters will likely turn elsewhere.

Following the last presidential debate, Romney erased a nearly six-point lead in the national polls and saw a major shift in momentum, in what was an otherwise struggling campaign. Romney currently leads nationally by the slimmest margin of 0.1 percent according to the Real Clear Politics averages of national polling data. Additionally, Romney is now tied in likability with Pres. Obama, based on a poll recently released by Politico.

Pres. Obama will likely be more aggressive, at least that's what his campaign is working for; anything short will likely dismantle the campaign given Romney's polling success in the week following the first presidential debate.

The president is his own harshest critic and he knows Mitt Romney had a better night at the first debate. The American people should expect to see a much more energized President Obama making a passionate case for why he is a better choice for the middle class.

–Jen Psaki

However, the president must find a balance between being aggressive and being presidential, and a town-hall debate is a difficult setting to do that, in which the intimate setting limits candidates from being too aggressive. The candidates will be forced to address the concerns of undecided voters who have serious questions about both candidacies and the platforms the campaigns are supporting.

Even more, the candidates must find a balance between answering voter questions, while focusing on what the opposing candidate is saying. Romney has participated in several town hall meetings, giving him the upper hand on the format. However, Romney has not been forced to debate another candidate in his previous meetings.

Romney, too, has a lot at stake as he works to keep the momentum going. A poor performance at the debate could cost Romney the election, just as fast as his quick turnaround in the polls in the last two weeks.

The former Massachusetts governor is generally seen as a candidate that knows the party platform and can recite facts well, but occasionally says things the campaign wishes he could take back, such as betting $10,000 and saying he couldn't hire illegal immigrant workers because he was running for office.

Romney will likely deliver a similar message presented in the first debate, stating more moderate positions as his campaign works to attract independent voters. Romney does not need to be as aggressive as Pres. Obama, but must control the debate or at least remain even with the president.

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Josh Furlong


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