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What Will Determine Who Wins Wednesday's Obama-Romney Debate?

What will you be looking for to decide the difference in the first presidential debate between the nominees? And don't forget to join us for a Patch debate viewing party!

The first debate between President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney is Wednesday night.

According to the plans for this first debate, at the University of Denver in Denver, CO, the focus will be on domestic policy. It is the first of three debates between Romney and Obama, all scheduled in October.

A fourth debate, set for Oct. 11, will pit Vice President Joe Biden against Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan. It's going to be at Centre College in Danville, KY, with a focus on both domestic and foreign policy.

But back to Wednesday.

Romney has been through a veritable gauntlet of debates in the year-long-plus run-up to the GOP convention, seemingly one after another, with as many as nine challengers on stage making their case for why they should be president.

Those, of course, were all against candidates seeking the Republican nomination. This is the first time Romney and Obama go mano-a-mano, presenting their conservative vs. liberal, Republican vs. Democratic vision for leading the United States going forward.

The Daily Beast compiled a list of the top seven debate gaffes at the presidential and vice presidential level following Rick Perry's "ooops" moment in one of the early GOP debates — a mistake that helped unravel his own campaign.

The Daily Beast's list included President Ford's assertion in 1976 that there is no Soviet domination in Eastern Europe; Adm. James Stockdale's overly honest statement in 1992 of "Who am I, why am I here? I’m not a politician, everybody knows that," and Gov. Michael Dukakis' stoic, emotionless response in 1988 to a question about his stance against the death penalty, even if his own wife were brutally murdered.

Will it be a gaffe or a quotable moment that changes the debate? Or will you be looking for something else to determine the winner? What will Obama have to do to win this debate? How about Romney? And will you be watching?

If you're going to watch, please consider joining us for a Patch debate viewing party at two locations in the St. Louis area: Wehrenberg's Des Peres 14 Cine or St. Charles 18 Cine theaters, where you can share your views on how the candidates' remarks addressed the issues you care about. Get more details here.

froze September 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM
I'll tell you will determine which person wins the debate...the news people. The press already knows who they want to win and no matter how bad a candidate will do, that candidate will be a superstar, hit all the points, looked the best dressed, acted more relax, blah blah blah. That's all these debates are, blah blah blah.
Jim September 30, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Yeah, but here is a chance for the voters to look and hear on there own. Voters who are interested enough to watch are usually able to see thru the biases from the spin misters. Of course our own personal biases are harder to suppress. Go Romney.
Jo Beck September 30, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Froze and Jim are both right- the media will spin the debate to benefit Obama's campaign. The media are like the Great Wizard of Oz, the mighty puppeteers controlling public opinion behind the curtain, and the voters just dance around at their whim instead of using our own brains to figure things out! Wake up, people! The newspapers and television networks will choose a chance remark or an unflattering clip to make Romney look bad in the debate while they'll be shooting Obama from his good side. I would like to hear some debate about the real economic issues that voters should be thinking about when they go to the polls. The fact is that Americans are much worse off than we were 4 years ago. Obama got his chance and failed. It's time to kick him out of the White House.
Caffeinated September 30, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Boo-hoo. All of you just need to watch the post-debate discussion on Fox and you'll get the "news" that fits your political views. CNN attempts to be impartial and has a panel consisting of representatives of both parties who at least are more substantive than the tokens MSNBC and Fox have. Looking forward to the debate, should be fun. Who will "win?" Debates have historically done very little to move the needle -with some exceptions, Kennedy-Nixon comes to mind. The Romney campaign is desperate right now and they need a game changer. I expect some fireworks, but I doubt it'll amount to much at all.
Jeanbean September 30, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Blaming the media is one way of avoiding a citizen's responsibility to listen and learn from the candidate's own words. If you don't want to hear the media response to debates, just turn off the TV and make your decision based on what you heard from the debaters themselves. I agree about CNN presenting a broader view than the liberals on MSNBC or the conservatives on Fox News. I also watch PBS news. But I suggest that those out there who blame the media for everything need to do more of their own homework. (I am not a member of the media, by the way.)
RDBet September 30, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Fox News finished their post-debate script about a month ago. Jo Beck has a copy.
Tom September 30, 2012 at 03:06 PM
The narrative that the media will take away from the debates will be a Romney "bounce". The next news cycle will be all about a Romney comeback because that makes a better story. There are two types of media bias - conservative and sensationalism. There's no such thing in liberal bias in the media. But complaining about one actually adds to the conservative bias and provides cover for where the liberal bias really is - the facts.
iris September 30, 2012 at 03:15 PM
i want obama to win Romney will losse :P obama has what it takes we can do it
Jacqueline Harrison September 30, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Fox news is the worst of the opinionated journalist, the worst! Obama all the way...he leaves no one behind like the rich sucks do. Hannity makes more money than all of them while spreading lies, twisting the truth....Romney doesn't have a comeback by the way...
mike reilly September 30, 2012 at 03:50 PM
My biggest concern is the inability or willingness to answer the specific question asked. Both candidates utilize prepared answers regardless of the question. People really need to listen.
Jacqueline Harrison September 30, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Some people hear what they want to hear and ignore what they don't want to hear, plain and simple...
PaulRevere September 30, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Who has won the debate about whether our Libya Embassey was 1) A Pre-Planned Attack on 9-11-12? 2) A video outrage? I asked my relatives what they knew. Not a one knew our Ambassador and three others were murdered and dragged throught the streets, at an "Unprotected" embassy. Not a one even knew that there is a serious question about the Inteligence reports warning of an attack. Not a one knew that Our U.N. Rep "Rice" stated consistenly , the attack was because of a Video--As she only referenced the Egypt violence in the streets only. Our President only says "It's still under investigation". What is ? Now Folks, Live TV will give Romney a chance to Talk to the people directly. No TV sound bites for 90 minutes. It is his job to Tell what is happening. No more, No less. But, many Americans will hear some things for the first time. And that is a shame. All facts should be known, not suppressed. That is a media failure. Most of the American voters are very "uninformed". It is NOT their Fault. That is different than being "ignorant". You simply cannot have a debate with selective information. That is NOT Romney's job, so he'll have to spend much of his time talking about things the Public never heard. (Like "Solyndra") I estimate 50% of America still do not know about it. GM? -Many people think GM paid back all the US money. "America Burning"!!!!
The Missourian September 30, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Obama: "Before we start, I'd like to thank my opponent, Mitt Romney, for laying the groundwork for the Affordable Healthcare Act. As governor of Massachussetts, he proved that an individual mandate and greater oversight of insurers could help to rein in health care spending and reduce costs. Thank you, Mr. Romney." If he can start with that, Obama is golden.
Watts September 30, 2012 at 06:09 PM
The bar has been set so low for Romney, that if he doesn't melt into a puddle, some analysts will call that a win.
Tom Maher September 30, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Anonymous "Paul Revere" - I presume your neighbors live in a cave; are you there as well?
Sensible? I think so October 01, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Just today, Paul Ryan told Chris Wallace (of Fox News!) this in response to specific questions about Romney's tax plan: "It would take me too long to go through all of the math." No rush, go through the math! Or if he doesn't want to risk making a mess of it on the spot, put it up on a website somewhere! How is that the fault of the media, any media? Really, a serious question for you, Mr. Revere. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/09/30/ryan-on-romneys-tax-plan-it-would-take-me-too-long-to-explain/
Sonny Pondrom October 01, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Tom Maher - You must give all people like Paul Revere the right to give their opinion. If you find fault with his facts or interpretations, then you should to point out the error(s) he has made.
Larry Lazar October 01, 2012 at 01:16 AM
While Romney has more recent "debate" experience, you have to consider the caliber of his competition for those debates. I'm pretty sure my golden retriever could have come up with more intelligent responses than Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain. Nonetheless, I doubt there will be any significant news coming out of the debates
Rich Pope October 01, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Do the candidates get a copy of the questions ahead of time?
Sonny Pondrom October 01, 2012 at 01:04 PM
No, but they do get to know the topics and for the first time get the opportunity to say what questions can not be asked.
Watts October 01, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Obama is a great public speaker, but not the strongest debater. Romney is a terrible public speaker, but a fairly strong debater. I'd like to say that this is going to come down to substance, but the reality is that the low-information voters that are left out there aren't likely to suddenly become seekers of substance. This is going to be more about appearances. And the one negative that both candidates have when debating is that they can cross over into a level of condescension that is not becoming of either of them. The goal of each will be to walk the fine line of beating up the other, without looking like a bully. I don't expect to see any "substance" (as in hearing anything new) from either candidate. The only thing that I might expect is a swing toward the center from Romney. But for every step that he takes toward the center, Obama will be able to lay him out by reminding everybody how the center is quite different from what Romney has been providing so far in the campaign.
John Ridenhower October 01, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Ryan was smart to dodge budget questions in advance of the debates; lest he either steal Romneys thunder, or give several days to Obama to prepair his rebuttals in advance.
Larry Lazar October 01, 2012 at 08:41 PM
that's an excellent analysis Watts and I agree. Well done.
News Flash October 01, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Trolls like Watts should be rejected.
Watts October 01, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Thanks Larry, but let's give credit where credit is due. How about that brilliant contribution from News Fish? I am humbled by the brilliance of this person who has attained such great knowledge and rhetorical skills, all without ever having left his mother's basement.
Watts October 01, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Actually, if it is like most issues, Ryan and Romney are probably worlds apart on it and if Ryan had given details, then that would present an issue if Romney were to state completely different details during the debate. It is obvious that Romney and Ryan are like oil and water, so I think that we probably won't be hearing a lot of details from Ryan, even in the vice presidential debate. Romney has had to say it over and over again that he would be the president, as if to totally disregard Ryan's policy beliefs. So I think that now, Ryan has taken the hint to keep his mouth shut until after the election.
Sensible? I think so October 02, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I don't see how Mr. Maher didn't give Mr. Revere the right to his opinion. Are you familiar with these statements of Mr. Revere? Telling someone that they can't have an opinion in this state or country is NOT giving them the right to their opinion, if you ask me. "You should go live in another country and stop trying to ruin this country." "Why don't you go live in MASS-Chus." It would be more than a full time job to point out Mr. Revere's errors. (Definitely plural, not singular!) Google now shows some of them, just search for "wrong again, mr revere".

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