WASHINGTON, September 27, 2012 — You watched the conventions, you’ve been bombarded by political ads, you’ve seen the candidates umpteen times on the evening news, and you may have even heard President Obama and Mitt Romney speak from the stump in person. And in the last couple of weeks you have seen the polls in swing states shift dramatically in favor of President Obama.
Now with less than six weeks before Election Day, November 6, comes that watershed moment, the Presidential Debates. It can be make or break time for a candidate, especially for Mitt Romney, who has had a bad few weeks.
However, notice, despite the negative campaign ads by both sides, how generous the two campaigns are about the other guy’s debating skills. President Obama’s surrogates are lavishing praise on Mitt Romney, saying such things as “Gov. Romney is a very skilled debater,” as though their guy isn’t.
Obama can be long-winded, they admit, “so clearly the governor has the advantage.” Meanwhile Romney’s people say that Obama is “the most gifted speaker in modern political history.”
This is called lowering expectations. Don’t believe a word either one of them says. It’s all part of the political blather that candidates indulge in around debate time.
That said, some students of elections believe for a challenger just to be standing on the same stage as the incumbent means he has gained points. And to still be standing at the end of the first debate, even if he doesn’t land a blow, may mean a win that night. So before the match … er … debate, a candidate wants to make himself look bad and his opponent look like a gifted orator equal to Patrick Henry.
Then add in the fact that you are still standing means you win. Silly, yes, but that’s politics. Just look for more compliments about an opponent’s oration acumen while bashing him in campaign ads as the worst thing for this country outside of a zombie invasion.
Still, debates have been known to be game changers. Ronald Reagan used the debates to come from behind and turn things around when he handled Jimmy Carter deftly and humorously.
Can Romney pull off a Reagan?
The first debate is always considered the most crucial one, but they are all important because so many people tune in to see the two candidates go toe to toe. Here is Romney’s last chance to present his vision and connect with the American people. Can he pull it off? Can President Obama keep his cool, while still projecting the image of a resolute leader? Can Romney rattle Obama? Can Obama corner Romney? Can Romney use a flash of humor to take down Obama?
This debate has the potential to make the famous Mohammad Ali–George Forman fight, “The Rumble in the Jungle,” look like your kids’ pillow fight.
The debates will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and cable news channels, such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. The debates will also be Live Stream at www.2012presidentialelectionsnews.com.
October 3, Wednesday— 9:00-10:30 p.m. EDT
Where: University of Denver, Colo. – Topic, Domestic Policy
Moderator: Jim Lehrer, Executive Director of PBS News Hour
Format: 90 minutes divided into six 15-minutes segments. First three segments will focus on the economy and the last three on health care, the role of government and governing.
October 16, Tuesday — 9:00-10:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Hofstra University, Long Island, New York — Topic: foreign and domestic policy
Moderator: Candy Crowley, Chief Political Analyst and the first woman moderator in 20 years
Format: 90 minutes of town hall questions, but only from undecided voters and with questions limited to domestic issues and foreign policy.
October 22, Monday — 9:00-10:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida — Topic: foreign policy
Moderator: Bob Schieffer, Chief Washington Correspondent and moderator of CBS’s “Face the Nation”
Format: 90 minutes divided into six 15-minutes segments, focusing on foreign policy.
October 11, Thursday — 9-10:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Centre College, Danville, Kentucky — Topic: foreign and domestic policy
Moderator: Martha Raddatz, ABC Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Format: 90 minutes, covering foreign policy and domestic issues. The moderator will ask an opening question in each segment and each candidate will have two minutes to answer. The moderator will then use the rest of the time in that segment for further discussion of that opening question before moving on.
The Commission on Presidential Debates administers tickets for the 2012 debates. For more information go to: http://www.debates.org/
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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