October 16, 2012

OPINION: Tonight's Debate Is The President's To Win Or Lose


Hofstra University Presidential Debate Logo 10-16-2012

By Roy Steele

Hempstead, New York ---Tonight is the second of three Presidential Debates, and you can bet that President Obama and WIllard Mitt Romney, have been cramming and preparing for this debate for the last 3 or 4 days.

Americans are going to tune in because they are curious. Was Mitt Romney’s performance at the first debate an anomaly? Is Barack Obama going to sleep walk through the debate again?

The debate at Long Island’s Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, is a town-hall format debate with audience questions and candidate’s answers, moderated by CNN’s chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. Members of the audience will interact with the candidates, who can move around the stage and auditorium - as they aren’t stuck in one spot.

Romney and Obama both have experience with this more relaxed debate style, though the stakes have never been higher for either candidate, so I expect that they both will be very nervous.
 
This style of debate suits President Obama. Romney is a stiff candidate, and doesn’t know how to charm people, or make small talk. His people skills are lacking, and he often looks socially awkward with groups of people. He’s going to try to look cool and relaxed on the debate stage, but that’s inimical to who Romney is as a person, so it will be difficult for him to pull off.

The President doesn’t want to repeat his performance from the last debate. He seemed tired, distracted and annoyed in Denver - and he’s going to have to fight any urge to sit back on his heels and scribble on a pad. The best thing he can do is be himself. If “Barry Obama” shows up at Hofstra tonight, he will win the debate easily. If the policy wonk President shows up, obsessed with statistics and numbers and too much detail, he will have a very long night.

Romney isn’t driven by a vision for the future, or ideology or ideals, so if he tries to match the President, he will fail miserably. He should try to articulate his plans, even though he says they aren't finalized, because the voters have to buy the product he is selling, and that's himself.

Obama has a vision for the future, and he must communicate that to the voters tonight. That’s what sets him apart from the other candidate, and what makes him attractive to the electorate at large. Obama must connect with the viewers at home if he wants to seal the deal tonight.

Obama’s destiny is in his own hands, as long as he doesn’t fumble.

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