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Tonight in Denver, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will engage in the first of their three scheduled presidential debates. Obama leads in most national polls, defying some gloomy economic indicators in part because of Romney’s self-inflicted wounds. But tonight, everything can change with a quip or a gaffe, as approximately 60 million voters will tune in to compare the two candidates who want to be our next president. Ideally, their conversation will dig deep in to the substantial issues and formidable challenges that confront our country. But if televised debate history has taught us anything, it’s that even the most insignificant gesture or gleam of sweat — to say nothing of the crippling brain fart — can make all the difference.
Presidential debates probably play a disproportionately important role in electing our leaders — why should rhetoric count more than resume? — but this is their job interview, and the American people get the final say in who gets hired. One false move, and the race could be over. Romney enters October in need of a “game-changer,” and his time is running out.
“Romney has been running for president for like 11 years, and it all comes down to this one night,” Jon Stewart says. “Imagine how tight you’re going to squeeze that thing… I’m talking about his sphincter, not the debate.”
According to the New York Times, the Republican has been practicing debate zingers since August and is hoping to lure Obama into a trap where he can deliver a masterstroke that will redefine his campaign and the election dynamic. He has that chance tonight. It’s happened before. Over and over, actually. Ever since Richard Nixon’s not-ready-for-primetime performance at the first televised presidential debate in 1960, the medium has been cruel to the imperfect. Obama (“You’re likable enough”) and Romney (His Judge Smails bet with Rick Perry) have survived some near-gaffes in the past; they’re certainly to be on their toes tonight.
Click below for a few of the biggest winners and losers in presidential debate history. READ FULL STORY »