The Oct. 3 presidential debate, the first between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, provided a bump in the polls for the GOP challenger. The second debate, last Tuesday, was largely a wash, at least according to initial polling.
Now comes the third and final debate, Oct. 22, in the battleground state of Florida, just 15 days before Election Day. For the president and Romney, the stakes could not be higher.
Here are some questions and answers about what to expect in the pivotal matchup:
Q. How will the last debate differ from the previous two?
A. These are the campaigns’ closing arguments and the last time the two men are likely to meet until after the Nov. 6 election. The 90-minute format will be similar to the first debate in Denver, but the subjects chosen by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer this time will be limited to foreign policy.
The Commission on Presidential Debates said that the six segments will cover “the changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism;” America’s role in the world; “Red Lines: Israel and Iran;” “Our Longest War- Afghanistan and Pakistan;” and the rise of China and “tomorrow’s world.”
The hot spots of Libya, Afghanistan, Iran, China and Israel are likely to dominate both the news of the day and questions at the debate. Since the policy positions of the two candidates are more similar than campaign rhetoric portrays them, experts say listen for nuance in what they say.
Q. Where can I watch the debate on television?
A. The debate from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., can be seen live at 9 p.m. EDT on all the major networks and cable news channels, including C-Span and PBS.
Q. Is it significant that the debate is being held in a crucial swing state for both candidates?
A. The debate venue “is always significant” because the state’s media give a lot more attention to it when it’s also a local story, said Lynn University American Studies professor Robert P. Watson.
Watson, who briefly ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2005, has designed a curriculum for Palm Beach County’s public schools centering on the debate, and has organized mock debates on campus, stimulating interest and news media attention.
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