Oct. 2 - Analysts say Republican Mitt Romney will have to perform superbly in the first presidential debate in order to close the gap with Obama who is ahead by five percentage points. Deborah Gembara reports.
They've been attacking each other for months. (Clip from campaign speeches) On Wednesday, Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney will meet at this Denver auditorium for the first presidential debate. SOUNDBITE: Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney saying: "These debates are an opportunity for each of us to describe the pathway forward for America that we would choose." SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: "No, no, Governor Romney, he is a good debater. I am just OK." Romney, who is trailing Obama by six percentage points in the latest Reuters Ipsos poll -- is under pressure to narrow that gap. Michael Tanner, Senior fellow with the Cato Institute. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CATO INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW MICHAEL TANNER SAYING : "The public wants to see if Mitt Romney is an acceptable alternative. They sort of know the president, he's the devil they know, Mitt Romney's the devil they don't and they haven't made up their mind about him, one way or the other right now. What they've seen is a lot of negative ads, their attitude is generally - he's not very likeable- they generally have a negative impression of him. If he can change that, oif he can be someone they can see as president they are much more likely to go and vote for him." Outside the White House, voters say they're hoping to hear more details. SOUNDBITE) (English) CHARLES MILLER, TOURIST, SAYING : "There's too much dancing going around in the political world and we need to know the exact plan of how each candidate will improve the economy and strenghten our country in to the future." SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID LEVITT, MARYLAND RESIDENT SAYING : "I'd like to hear each candidate's plan to limit the costs of healthcare because I think that's the biggest driver of the debt and the deficit." SOUNDBITE) (English) SHEILA SMITH, RESIDENT, SAYING : "I've already made up my mind on which way I am giong to vote but what I want to see is a good substantive conversation about our country's future, on economic policy, more than just rhetoric, I'm looking for actual plans, I want to know what hte candidates are going to do, when they are going to do it and why they are going to do it. Romney will have to convince Americans he's presidential material. Obama will be forced to defend an economy that he's acknowledged isn't where it needs to be. SOUNDBITE: Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute saying: "He (Obama) tends to be very factual oriented, he throws out a lot of numbers, he'll talk a lot of specifics in terms of - I'm going to create 5 million jobs or 600000 teachers or a million manufacturing jobs. There's going to be a lot of those type of numbers, but he can also get irritated and you can come across sometimes as a little testy and he doesnt like to be challenged and if people go after him on specifics he sometimes gets his back up a little bit . That's going to be one of his challenges, to avoid that." While it isn't clear just how much impact the debates will have, previous debates have given a chance to show off their quick thinking or in some cases, their sense of humor. SOUNDBITE: Ronald Reagan saying: "I will not let age be an issue. I have no plans to exploit my opponent's relative youth and inexperience." Wednesday's debate is the first of three.