More than 50 million people are expected to tune in to watch the televised debate at the University of Denver, The New York Times reported.
Each candidate has a team of people helping them shore up weaknesses and highlight strengths. The president's team wants him to sharpen his responses, to sound less professorial and more personal. Romney's people are trying to break him of his penchant for rattling off statistic after statistic.
The debate is a chance for the candidates to move past their campaign ads and show a mass audience who they are.
Romney's team wants to create moments that will be talked about around water coolers the next day. He has spent months memorizing zingers he can use against president, hoping Obama's responses will appear smug or evasive. At the same time, Romney should appear confident and presidential.
Obama's team wants his statements to be sharp and concise, similar to his speech at the Democratic convention. They want to portray Romney as an ideologue whose policies are contrary to the interests of the middle class.
Both men are equally experienced debaters. The president participated in more than 20 debates in 2008 during the Democratic primary campaign, plus another three during the general election. Romney was involved in 23 debates during the nomination process this year and last.
A critical point may be how long each has had to prepare. Romney has been practicing since June. The president's practice time has often been interrupted by matters of state. On Sunday, he plans to travel to Nevada to isolate himself and get in hours of debate practice.
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