Presidential debate preview - New York News

Presidential debate preview

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DENVER (AP) -- President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney come face to face for the first time in this presidential campaign Wednesday night for a nationally televised debate that will give millions of Americans a chance to size up two fierce competitors in a moment of high-risk theater.

You can watch the debate at 9 p.m. on Fox 5 and MyFoxNY.com

Romney, trailing in polls in a number of key states and running short on time to reverse his fortunes, is angling for a breakout performance in the three 90-minute presidential debates scheduled over the next three weeks.

Obama, well aware that the remaining five weeks of the race still offer enough time for tectonic shifts in his prospects, is determined to avoid any campaign-altering mistakes as he presses his case for a second term.

2007 Obama video surfaces

A pre-debate skirmish Tuesday over Vice President Joe Biden's passing reference to "a middle class that has been buried the last four years" demonstrated how just a few words can mushroom into something larger during a heated contest for the White House.

Wednesday's 9 p.m. EDT faceoff between Obama and Romney on domestic policy at the University of Denver is sure to offer a blend of choreography and spontaneity: Both men have spent hours rehearsing smart lines and pithy comebacks with proxy opponents -- yet know to expect the unexpected.

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Analysis: Romney looking for an edge in debate with Obama to set tone of race for next 34 days

As millions of Americans watch, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney will be chasing opposite goals in their first debate. The key for Obama is to sit on his narrow lead without mishap, while Romney's challenge is to shake up the race and connect with voters.

And while debates are seldom determinative, they can alter the direction or pause the momentum of a presidential contest. Five weeks before the election, the public's attention is becoming more focused, opinions are gelling and in some states votes are already being cast.

First debates have not been kind to incumbent presidents seeking re-election. So to the extent that history holds lessons, they can only be cautionary for Obama and encouraging for Romney when they meet Wednesday night in Denver.

Obama is vulnerable and Romney will seek to wound him. Joblessness stands above 8 percent, the economy is growing at a snail's pace and Obama's health care law remains a contentious topic with voters.

Romney's message: The country can't afford another four years of an Obama administration.

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