Obama, Romney face big hurdle in town hall format: unpredictability
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney step into a more free-wheeling town-hall style debate on Tuesday night, a setting that has given the two coolly intellectual candidates some trouble in the past.
Both will have to recalibrate their approaches from their first encounter on Oct. 3, which was won by Romney.
"I think Obama assumes he will do better in town hall debates because he has an advantage on empathy," said Emory University political science professor Andra Gillespie, adding that Obama is going to have to "show a little more passion and fire in his belly."
Romney could be less aggressive, which earned him points in the first debate, and focus more on trying to narrow the likability gap.
"Because Romney is gaffe-prone he is going to do everything he can to come across as warm and empathetic, Gillespie said.
CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will moderate the second debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. She is first woman to do so in two decades.
The town hall format presents challenges and opportunities for the candidates, Crowley said. Both have held a number of town hall forums during the campaign season — exchanges that haven't exactly sizzled, political experts say.
Crowley as moderator: 'Career highlight' Second presidential debate expectations Obama, Romney to debate in town hall
Crowley on moderating town hall debate: 'It's harder to dodge'
That's because Obama tends to become professorial and Romney stiff in such settings.
"The danger of the town hall is that you're getting (questions) from the audience," said Melissa Wade, a debate professor at Emory University. "It's either because they're either not good or they are so rehearsed the responder has a hard time."
Other candidates have struggled in town halls.
Television cameras caught then-President George H.W. Bush when he looked at his watch during a town hall debate in 1992. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore got in GOP rival George W. Bush personal space which made for an awkward moment.
The unpredictable nature of the questions also has perils, she said.
In 2004, President George W. Bush struggled to answer a woman's question on three wrong decisions that he'd made. That debate was also full of testy back and forth — the types of exchanges that spell trouble for politicians, political experts say.
In the last presidential town hall debate, GOP nominee John McCain wandered across stage while Obama, then a senator, answered a question.
"I worry for Romney that this is where he gets excitable. I wish someone would tell him to count to three before he opens his mouth. Informal leads to more quips," Wade said. "Excitability is not likability."
|All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:16 AM.|
Copyright 1997 - 2013 - BlackandGold.com