By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA - In two days, President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney will square off in Denver for the first presidential election debate.
Four years ago, President Obama was declared the winner of all three presidential debates. But political science professor Dr. David Lanoue says this year, it's going to be a close one.
"Both candidates have their strengths and both have their weaknesses and neither of them is an exceptionally polished debate performer," Lanoue, the college's Dean of Arts and Sciences, says.
The President is gripping onto a small lead in the swing states including Iowa, where a new poll shows Romney four points behind.
That's why wednesday's debate is critical.
"We know debates can change opinion about 3-5 points for the candidate that wins and in this case the debates can even be a stronger factor than the conventions were," Lanoue says.
The dress rehearsals are on--President Obama rallied supporters in Las Vegas Sunday night, "I believe in you and i ask you to keep on believing in me. I'm asking for your vote. I'm asking you to stand with me."
And Romney participating in a mock debate Monday night in Boston.
"I expect to be able to describe that in a way people will understand, and if they do, I'll get elected," Romney says.
"If Romney wins the debate it could get him back in the race and really tie things up going into the last few weeks. If he loses, then the President's lead will really start to solidify," Lanoue says.
During the debate, moderator Jim Lehrer will ask a broad question and then lead the debate until going on to a new topic.
"It gives the candidates a lot more time to talk and sometimes interact," Lanoue says.
Lenoue says the big debate topics will be jobs and the economy, but no matter what the question, both candidates need to bring their a game.
"It's really the last time the can be sure that everyone in America or at least everyone in America that's interested will be watching and listening and hanging on to every word," Lanoue says.
You can catch the debate on NBC at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, 8:30 p.m. Central.
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