Washington: US President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney are running neck and neck in a series of national polls ahead of the first of the three presidential debates to be held in Denver on Wednesday with economy and domestic policy to be on top of the agenda.
Ahead of the Denver clash, the two leaders yesterday started making last minute preparations for what is the make or break moment for both Obama and Romney; who aspire to lead the country for the next four years.
51-year-old Obama was huddling with his top advisers at a desert resort in Nevada, while 65-year-old Romney was practicing with his close aides in Massachusetts where he also spent most of the weekend working with his debate team.
The debates, a regular feature of American presidential campaigns since 1960, allow a chance to measure up the leaders who would be president as they stand side-by-side.
Being organised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, Obama and Romney over the course of this month would meet each other for three presidential debates.
Besides the one at Denver on October 3, the two leaders would debate again on October 16 in New York and October 22 in Florida.
The two vice presidential candidates, incumbent Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan of the Republican party, would debate each other in Kentucky.
To be moderated by Lim Lehrer, host of the News Hour on PBS, the focus of the Denver debate would be on domestic policy and be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each.
The New York debate would be moderated by candy Crowley and would take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues.
Hosted by Bob Schieffer of the Face the Nation on CBS news, the third and final debate in Florida will focus on foreign policy.
Over the weekend, Obama at a campaign speech said that Romney is a good debater.
"Governor Romney, he`s a good debater. I`m just okay," Obama said during a campaign event in Nevada.
"But what I`m most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we need to do to keep the country growing and restore security for hardworking Americans. That`s what people are going to be listening for. That`s the debate that you deserve," Obama said.
"It is not just a choice between two candidates or two political parties. It`s a choice between two different paths for this country. It`s a choice between two fundamentally different visions for our nation," he said.