U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will confront each other Wednesday in the first of three scheduled nationally televised debates of the 2012 presidential race.
With just five weeks remaining before the November 6 election, Obama is entering the debate with a lead over Romney in voter opinion polls both nationally and in several so-called battleground states that are expected to decide the election.
Romney, a retired multi-millionaire businessman and former governor of Massachusetts, has lost ground since a secretly recorded video surfaced earlier this month that showed him telling wealthy supporters that 47 percent of Americans, who will vote for the president "no matter what," pay no taxes and consider themselves "victims" entitled to government support.
The First 2012 Presidential Debate
The Role of Government
Source: Commission on Presidential Debates
Six, 15-minute segments
Each segment opens with a question by the moderator
Candidates have two minutes each to respond, rest of segment used for discussion
Both men spent Tuesday behind closed doors engaged in final practice sessions. Obama spent a second day with his campaign advisers at a resort in the western state of Nevada, while Romney was in nearby Denver, Colorado, the site of Wednesday's debate.
Both campaigns attempted to take advantage of inadvertent remarks and new revelations Tuesday. The Romney campaign said Vice President Joe Biden's remarks at a campaign rally in the southeastern state of North Carolina that middle-income Americans have been "buried" by the anemic U.S. economy over the last four years was an admission that the Obama administration's economic policies have failed. The Obama campaign called attention to a published report in The New York Times
that suggested that Romney's overseas financial holdings have made him a profit and allowed him to reduce his income tax rate.
Wednesday's debate at the University of Denver will be devoted to domestic issues, such as the economy and health care.
Foreign policy issues will be covered in the second and third debates, scheduled for October 16 and October 22.
Analysts say the debates could be Romney's best and last chance to revive his campaign and change the direction of the race.
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