5 Things Mitt Romney Needs To Do In Tuesday Night's Presidential Debate

They say you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression. But after his abysmal performance at the first presidential tilt in Denver, President Barack Obama hopes he can do exactly that in the town-hall-style debate Tuesday night in Hempstead, N.Y.

But he's not the only candidate who needs a strong performance. Mitt Romney may have received "his best set of polls all year" last Friday, according to polling analyst Nate Silver of The New York Times. Still, if Romney is to win the White House—if he is to overcome the 15- to 20-point disadvantage he still faces in the Electoral College vote—he can't rest on his first debate success.

And he can't do it by attacking President Obama. The president and his record are not the focal points of this debate—the dozen or so undecided voters who will ask questions of the candidates are. Moderator Candy Crowley can inject herself as well, although neither candidate wants her to play a major role. But for the most part, both are at the mercy of the studio audience.

It is important for Romney to remember that style matters more than substance, that this isn't the place to explain in any extensive detail his economic plans and he should avoid trading barbs. This is not Denver. This is Oprah or The View. Listen. Understand. Exchange ideas.

To be successful Romney needs to focus on five items:

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Analysis & Political Strategy