News Analysis: Tuesday’s Presidential Debate All About Style, Giving Obama Advantage

Both U.S. presidential candidates’ ability to connect with viewers will be the most important aspect of Tuesday night’s presidential debate, which could give President Barack Obama an advantage over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, experts said.

Indeed, the debate’s town-hall forum is all about being folksy and portraying oneself as attuned to the needs of the average Americans, rather than paying attention to the finer points of policy.

As such, Obama has a natural advantage, as he apparently has always been able to connect better with his audience than Romney, who has at times come off as stiff and awkward in public, experts said.

“It’s a real dog and pony show,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Town hall debates tend to favor style over substance.”

But it remains to be seen whether Romney has gotten over his public awkwardness, as Tuesday’s discussion will be much less about policy and mostly about each candidate presenting himself as someone who can relate to average voters. That means that Romney must avoid getting bogged down in tedious policy minutia, as he is known to do, noted O’Connell.


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Analysis & Political Strategy