1. ROMNEY ON OFFENSE, OBAMA ON DEFENSE
Romney is under pressure to deliver a performance that shifts the momentum in his direction. Obama, on the other hand, merely needs to avoid a catastrophic performance that could cause independent voters to reassess their support.For each candidate, the challenge will be to rattle their opponent enough to prompt an off-script outburst.
2. EYES NEVER LIE
Television is a visual medium, and the body language of the candidates can have a bigger impact than their words. Obama and Romney want to avoid obvious missteps (scowling, sighing, looking at your watch, etc.), but more subtle signals can also signal to viewers that candidates aren’t on the level.
Shoulder shrugs indicate uncertainty, a wrinkled upper lip signals disgust, and eye blinking, either too much or too little, can convey stress, said body-language expert Janine Driver, author of “You Can’t Lie to Me.” On the other hand, a candidate conveys confidence when he turns his body to face his opponent.” We’ll see them face each other when they think they’re going to knock it out of the park.”
3. WHO WINS THE FIRST ROUND?
Alert viewers will be able to get a sense of how the debate will play in the news media by watching the first 30 minutes closely, although the impact of the debate probably won’t register in opinion polls until several days after the event. Gore adviser, Ron Klain, spelled it out in a memo to the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, “While you can lose a debate at any time, you can only win it in the first 30 minutes.”
4. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
Both candidates have charged each other with playing fast and loose with the facts, and each will try to pin their opponent down on areas where they think they are vulnerable. Expect Obama to challenge Romney to explain which tax loopholes he would close in order to lower income tax rates without adding to budget deficits. Romney, meanwhile, has indicated that he plans to press Obama when the president strays from the truth.