David Usborne: Presidential debate round 2 - can Obama land a punch?
THE candidates for the White House hunkered down last night cramming for tonight's second of three debates in Hempstead, New York, while both campaigns continued to look for ways to bolster their numbers in Ohio, a state that both regard as critical to their chances of victory.
For President Barack Obama, who prepared at a golf resort in Virginia, tonight's debate is a crucial moment in which he will need to show that his listless performance at the first debate in Denver was just a blip. He is "calm and energised", an aide said. But because tonight's face-off will be in a town hall setting with audience members asking questions, he may not want to seem overly aggressive in ripping into his rival, Mitt Romney.
"To do well, you have to be ultra-responsive to the audience," warned Larry Sabato, director of political studies at the University of Virginia. "They almost never ask anything negative, and they almost always bristle when a candidate goes negative." Of the President, he added: "He can't conduct the second debate as a make-up session for his disastrous first debate, or he'll lose the second one, too."