As Presidential Debate looms, town hall format poses risks, rewards

Posted at 8:36 AM, Oct 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-16 08:36:20-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney face a different environment in tonight's debate at Hofstra University in New York.

Preparing for every possible questions becomes impossible, the format for Tuesday night's showdown is a town hall-style debate, which means that the questions come from uncommitted voters. Without a podium and with audience interaction the candidates' style and body language can take on added weight.

CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth says both candidates have to walk a fine line, they will be eyed closely not only while they're speaking but also while they're listening. Harking back to the first ever presidential town hall debate held at the University of Richmond back in 1992,

"George Bush decides to look at his watch, and I don't think anyone recalls almost anything anyone said in that debate twenty years ago, but I think anybody who saw that debate or saw the media coverage of that debate remembers Bush looking at his watch."

Many say the debate proved a turning point in the '92 election, giving Bill Clinton an edge over George H. W. Bush.

Mitt Romney is coming off of his widely praised performance in the first debate, while President Obama acknowledges he didn't fare well and has promised he will not be so lax tonight.