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Counting down to the second presidential debate

by Amrita Tripathi
Tuesday , October 16, 2012 at 10 : 16

15/10/12, Hofstra University, New York:

The clock is ticking, the race is tight as ever, and it's going to come down to voter turn-out, we're told. The US presidential election is just 3 weeks away and it's just about time for the second presidential debate. (Cue Gong).

This one is a town-hall style debate, that made its debut back in 1992. The two rivals will be fielding questions from a group of undecided voters. The group comprises 80 voters chosen by Gallup, and about 12-15 questions submitted will make the cut - CNN's Candy Crowley is vetting and moderating. Fun fact number one - what networks have to cough up to broadcast debate proceedings live from the debate room? 6000 dollars!

US President Obama's been criticised across the board for a fairly lacklustre performance in the first presidential debate (though his supporters would argue he was presidential and also couldn't call out Romney beyond what he did, for changing his position). But while debates can be "game-changing moments", their actual importance is overstated, according to Associate Professor of Political Science at Hofstra University Richard Himmelfarb. He says the actual impact on the election is not likely to be significant...though the perception is anything but.

Scholar and expert on the American presidency Dr Meena Bose says that "with the election 21 days away, every event matters for President Obama and Gov romney, neither can afford a misstep." It'll be interesting to see of course how they connect with the voters - the undecided voters, mind you - who ask them the questions. CNN's Candy Crowley is moderating, and will be choosing - we're told - probably about 12 to 15 of the questions submitted.

Himmelfarb takes us through the battleground states and what's being seen as the Ohio phenomenon. "We have an electoral college, (so the) election is being fought not in 50 states, but in a handful, in 5, 7, 8 states. Mitt Romney to win has to win these states...He has made some progress, is ahead in Florida... The toughest task for him? He needs to win Ohio. Bit behind. Ohio is different, its economy is a little bit better than the national economy, unemployment is lower. President Obama can say my policies have led to that..."

By the way, when I ask Dr Bose the key issues for Indian Americans in the US? Here's what she says: "Education, jobs, immigration and visas for skilled professionals, top issues" as well as whether the US President has an appreciation for the rest of the world. "It's important for Indian Americans to have a president confident of conversing w the world," she tells me, referring back to an era when this was not the case.

On a completely different note, tulips! Fun fact two, Hofstra University has its own species of tulip! An enthusiastic student volunteer, well, volunteers that information when we're admiring the green of the campus.

See you with more tomorrow, from the run-up to the second presidential election.


More about Amrita Tripathi

Amrita Tripathi is a news anchor with CNN-IBN, and also doubles up as Health and Books Editor. An MA in Philosophy from St Stephen's College, Delhi University, she has also taught a few undergraduate classes at her alma mater, informally! When she is not tracking health issues, Amrita is busy chasing the literary dream. Her debut novel Broken News was published in 2010. Before joining CNN-IBN, Amrita worked with The Indian Express.

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