In October 2012, Mitt Romney will have three debates with President Barack Obama as both candidates make their final pitches to the American voters. Running-mates Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will debate each other once. In 2008, the four debates averaged roughly 60 million viewers, with the VP debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin bringing in the largest audience at nearly 70 million viewers. Here's a brief overview of the four debates, and what the conservative ticket will aim to accomplish.
Presidential Debate #1 - October 3, 2012
Moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS announced there will be 6 segments in the first debate, focusing exclusively on domestic policy. The first thee rounds will focus on the economy, followed by segments on healthcare, the role of government, and governing. The first debate will give Romney the chance to clearly set a distinction between himself and President Obama as the two candidates could not be further apart from each other on these issues. Romney will have a clear line of attack at the debates
, and this will be his first real impression on millions of voters.
Vice Presidential Debate - October 11, 2012
The two VP nominees will square off against each other just one time. Martha Raddatz of ABC will moderate the debate, which will be broken apart into 9 segments. Paul Ryan
has been one of the Obama administrations chief adversaries, and he is very eager when it comes to debating and arguing his case. He will have a clear opportunity to shine against the less studious Joe Biden. The debate will cover both foreign and economic policy
Presidential Debate #2 - October 16, 2012
Mitt Romney and President Obama meet up for round two in New York in a town hall style debate hosted by CNN's Candy Crowley. The questions will come from participants in the crowd - supposedly undecided voters - who can ask questions on foreign or domestic policy. These debates are often somewhat less scripted. Here, Mitt Romney would like to come off as engaging with the audience and have direct and specific answers that can connect. This also gives Romney the chance to break the perception
that he is too stiff.
Presidential Debate #3 - October 22, 2012
Hosted by Bob Schieffer of CBS, the final debate will focus exclusively on foreign policy. Foreign policy is typically an area of low interest for voters, but recent events in the Middle East may have made the debate much more important. While Obama had enjoyed high ratings in his dealings for much of his first term - based primarily on lack of news in the region - he has seen those numbers take a hit following unrest in the region. He is also dealing with perceived slights to Israel as he has never visited the most important ally and has not made major efforts in building a strong alliance with the leadership there.
Overall Goal of Romney and Ryan
Overall, conservatives are hoping that Romney and Ryan can make a solid first impression on voters. The candidates will also need to avoid making comments that can be determined as a "gaffe" by the media and then used as a sledgehammer against them for a solid week. One perceived slip-up from Romney or Ryan will be the only clip played by the media. The debates give the duo a chance to show that they are ready to lead, have a better vision for the country, and are serious about solving problems instead of ignoring them.