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SPOTLIGHT
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Ready for debate

Published on -10/2/2012, 9:28 AM

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With the general election just more than a month away, most people who plan to vote know for whom they'll be casting a ballot. The percentage of undecided voters is in single digits, which is lower at this point of the campaign compared to other years.

As President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney prepare for their first debate of three, their attention will be focused not only on the undecideds, but a different segment of the electorate as well. Pollsters show approximately 10 percent of each candidates' supporters is not locked in. The so-called leaners still could change their minds between now and Nov. 6.

Accordingly, both Romney and Obama will be making strong pitches to their base in hopes of keeping the leaners connected. They also will make every attempt to avoid gaffes or appearing less than professional while fielding questions. Not many presidential races are won on the basis of debates, but a few have been lost due to sub-par performances.

Round 1 of the debates will be from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in Denver. If the television set in your home can pick up even one channel, chances are good it will be the debate. All the networks and cable news channels plan to broadcast it live -- and then offer their own instant analysis afterward. We would encourage everybody to schedule a 90-minute block of time to watch the back-and-forth onstage as one of these two gentlemen will be leading the world's greatest country for the next four years.

Both candidates are well-rehearsed for the litany of domestic policy questions Wednesday's event will focus on. The Oct. 16 debate will be a mix of domestic and foreign policy; the Oct. 22 debate is slated for foreign policy only. There also is a second-in-command debate scheduled for Oct. 11 between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan.

For now, the spotlight is shining strictly on Obama and Romney. Other candidates who might appear on a ballot, such as Libertarian Gary Johnson, the Green Party's Jill Stein and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party were not invited to participate in the debates. Whether they should have been is a debate in and of itself. As none of the three have a legitimate chance of winning the election, debate organizers opted for the dominant parties' representatives.

Even if you're firm about your election day decision, the debates are must-see TV. Eat dinner early or reschedule other activities Wednesday. Do what you need to do to be an informed voter. As you can relax on your own couch, there doesn't appear to be an easier way than watching Romney and Obama square off.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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