Tuesday, October 16, 2012

5 things to watch for in Obama vs. Romney sequel

Ready for Round Two? President Obama and Mitt Romney square off Tuesday night in their second debate, this time answering questions posed by undecided voters.

The town hall-style debate will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Moderator Candy Crowley of CNN will select the questions from the 80-member audience, who were picked in advance by Gallup.

USA TODAY will have full coverage on all of its platforms. Check your local listings on where to catch the action, starting at 9 p.m. ET. Our guide to the five things to watch:

A second chance for Obama: The president said he was too polite in his first face-to-face meeting with Romney, who got a boost in public opinion polls because of his strong debate performance two weeks ago. Obama's advisers promise he will be "aggressive" and "energetic." But if Obama swings too hard in challenging Romney's assertions, will he come off like a bully?

The wind at Romney's back: The Republican's team says the momentum belongs to Romney after the Oct. 3 debate in Denver. Romney has been practicing the same way he did for the Denver debate, by focusing on what he wants to do if elected and why the time is right for America to change course. Can he build on the gains he has already made?

The challenge of speaking directly to voters: The people posing the questions want to be persuaded, which means Obama and Romney have to be engaging, empathetic, believable, likable and presidential -- sometimes all at the same time. It's a danger to appear disengaged, as George H.W. Bush did when he looked at his watch in the 1992 town hall debate. Or to get in your opponent's face, as Al Gore did in 2000 when he walked right up to George W. Bush. keyless entry remote

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