U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney,
are preparing for the next critical phase of the 2012 election season —
the presidential debates.
The two candidates hold the first of their three debates on Wednesday in
On Saturday, President Obama focused his weekly address on one of the
first debate's main topics: the economy. Wednesday's debate also is set
to cover health care and the role of government.
Both candidates are holding practice sessions to prepare for the
debates, which are expected to draw more than 50 million viewers each.
Mr. Romney says the debates will be “a good chance” for him and Mr.
Obama to “have a conversation with the American people” about their
Recent public opinion polls indicate President Obama has a significant
lead over the former Massachusetts governor in many of the so-called
swing states expected to decide the November 6 election.
The Republican candidate's standing has fallen since a video surfaced
earlier this month showing him telling wealthy supporters that 47
percent of Americans pay no taxes and consider themselves “victims”
entitled to government support.
Romney's campaign suffered another blow Friday when revised figures from
the Labor Department countered his campaign claim that the nation has
lost jobs under President Obama. The new numbers show the country has
more people employed now than when the president took office in January
Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for former President George W. Bush's
2004 campaign, said on ABC News that the debates are critical for Mr.
“The race right now is a five- or six-point national decline on his
part. He's losing in all the electoral states. He does not want to get
in a situation where this goes past him, and he can't catch up. He's got
to do it on October 3, and he has to do well. And I think actually the
race will close. He'll show up and do reasonably well, but he has to do
Foreign policy issues are being reserved for the second and third
debates, scheduled for October 16 and October 22. But the candidates are
already in competition on the subject, with both holding separate phone
discussions with the Israeli prime minister Friday on preventing Iran
from developing a nuclear weapon.