Elections 2012: Romney under Pressure to Score Debate Win against Obama

Two opponents come face to face for the first time in this presidential campaign Wednesday night for a debate broadcast nationally.

The upcoming debate may mark the last opportunity for Mitt Romney to improve his chances to win the November elections. Photo: Mitt Romney/Flickr

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will meet in a high-stakes live televised debate that could transform the US presidential election campaign.

The former Massachusetts governor, who is running behind in the recent polls, needs a victory more than his rival at the University of Denver debate, the first of three such face-offs scheduled in the next months.

“I think he’s got to have a pretty convincing win,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. “He’s had a bad few weeks and he needs to change the narrative of the campaign.”

The Republican candidate lost voters’ support after a secretly taped video from a private fundraiser was leaked, featuring Romney saying that 47 percent of voters are dependent on government and unlikely to choose him as a president.

The Denver debate is believed to be the last chance for Romney to repair some of the damage from the video. He is also expected to raise questions about Obama’s handling of the U.S. economy and prove that his own plan would create more jobs and cut the budget deficit.

The candidate should behave correctly through the debate without appearing to be disrespectful to President Obama, who many Americans like personally despite his struggle to create jobs.

As Reuters writes, the ‘often robotic Republican’ could do with showing some personality to make voters feel more comfortable with him.

“Americans who are thinking about voting for Romney need to hear from him about how he would change the country for the better,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean.

“They’re leaning toward the devil they know, which is President Obama. Romney has to knock it out of the park by showing the contrast between himself and Obama,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tom Rath, a Romney adviser, said the candidates prepare for the upcoming debates “the way you would prepare for a major athletic event,” complete with mock stages, focus-group-tested answers and instant video feedback on their deliveries.

“The amount of time and preparation tells you how much the candidates think they matter,” he told reporters last week.

David Axelrod, a senior strategist for Mr Obama, warned in a memo last week against campaign efforts to shape expectations for the debates. Then, naturally, he shifted to an effort to do just that, Post-Gazette writes.

“First, just as he was in the primaries, we expect Mitt Romney to be a prepared, disciplined and aggressive debater,” Mr. Axelrod wrote in a memo.

“We expect Mitt Romney to be a prepared, disciplined and aggressive debater,” he added.

Yet Chris Christie, the Republican New Jersey governor, revealed the view of what he and other Romney allies are hoping for.

“Mitt Romney is going to be standing on the same stage as the president of the United States,” he said in an interview. “Come Thursday morning, the entire narrative of this race is going to change”.

According to The Telegraph, the recently conducted polls show that only about 30 per cent of Americans expect a Romney win.

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