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Campaign 2012: Debates and polls

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Photo: Pete Souza/White House -- President Obama and staff watched the 2012 Vice-Presidential Debate aboard Air Force One October 11, 2012

Photo: Pete Souza/White House -- President Obama and staff watched the 2012 Vice-Presidential Debate aboard Air Force One October 11, 2012

The 2012 presidential race is now a neck and neck horse race according to most polls — with some showing President Barack Obama with a slim lead. A Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll yesterday suggested 47 per cent of likely voters would cast their ballots for Obama for president and 45 per cent of those voters would pick GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- GOP challenger Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shook hands at the start of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, after PBS' Jim Lehrer, the moderator, introduced them October 3, 2012

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- GOP challenger Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shook hands at the start of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, after PBS' Jim Lehrer, the moderator, introduced them October 3, 2012

Romney got a bump in the polls for his aggressive and glib performance at the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Colorado, earlier this month on October 3. Obama was strongly criticized for his low key style — which many political pundits, and even some top players in the Democratic party, have said was uninspired and lacked passion.

The way I saw it, Romney gave well rehearsed answers where he painted himself, for the first time, as a champion of the middle class. The former governor of Massachusetts did better than I expected — still he continued to offer very few specifics of his grandeur plans for the country. Romney had this plastic little smile on his face most of the time. The president, whose demeanor was very serious,  rarely cracked a smile. Both candidates were long winded, but I will blame that on the moderator,  PBS’ Jim Lehrer, who should have reined in the debaters when they drifted from the questions asked.

Meanwhile, the vice-presidential debate last Thursday in Kentucky had some interesting moments. Vice-President Joe Biden clearly enjoyed himself in the debate and unlike the president, had no problems showing his pearly whites. Republican veepee contender, Congressman Paul Ryan, came out fighting with attacks on the Obama administration, but like Romney, when asked had a difficult time coming up with the specifics of the plan to change the course of America. I thought, ABC’s Martha Raddatz did an exceptional job as moderator. She maintained control and at times pressed both candidates for details. Some claimed Biden won this showdown — others say it was a draw.

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Vice-President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan squared off in the only vice-presidential debate of 2012 at Centre College in Kentucky October 11, 2012

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Vice-President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan squared off in the only vice-presidential debate of 2012 at Centre College in Kentucky October 11, 2012

I think Vice-President Biden came out the victor in that rumble and he did it his way: big grins and big gestures. Oh, and he re-introduced us to the word “malarkey,” which means a bunch of crap in today’s terms. Like I said it was an interesting confrontation, but neither candidate hit an out of the park home run — leaving it up to their respective running mates to attempt that in the next presidential debate, which is today, at Hofstra University in New York, 6 p.m. our time.

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The second presidential debate will be in a town hall type format with both candidates taking questions from the audience about various domestic and foreign policy issues. CNN’s Candy Crowley will moderate.

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