President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are preparing for their first debate this week, and observers are eager to see if it will impact the race.
Both campaigns have been complimentary of each other and are trying to lower expectations before the televised debate in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday in order to gain an advantage going in. But experts agree that stakes are higher for Romney, who trails the president according to most polls in battleground states.
Tiffany Dillard-Knox is acting director of the University of Louisville debate team. She says people are excited to watch the first presidential debate, but that the forums are becoming more of a liability.
“I think the debates more likely can make you lose a candidacy more so than win one. You can say the wrong things. I don’t think people are really listening for the right things anymore. But I think people are taking into consideration when the candidates are saying the wrong things,” she says.
Other debate experts have said that Mr. Obama has the strength of focus while he often comes off as emotionally detached and at times condescending. They also say Romney’s asset is coming off as well-prepared and smooth, but that he often appears as out of touch or too slick for average voters to connect with.
Polls show Mr. Obama ahead on key issues, but observers say there is still ample time for Romney to surpass the president. Romney is expected to focus on the cost of President Obama’s policies, including the health care overhaul. The GOP challenger will also likely criticize the rising debt and sluggish economic recovery.
“Romney has to use the debates as an opportunity to make up for some of the rhetorical mistakes he’s made over the last few months. And I think that’s the benefit of the debates for Romney,” says Knox. “But I think that President Obama has proven historically that he can hold his own with regards to being attacked or questioned about what he’s done or what he hasn’t done.”
You can listen to the first presidential live on WFPL 89.3 FM on Wednesday.