Mitt Romney's moment: Can the turnaround man turn his campaign around in high stakes Denver debate?
By Toby Harnden In Denver
PUBLISHED: 11:09 EST, 3 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:42 EST, 3 October 2012
After running continuously for president for close to seven years, Mitt Romney faces his moment of truth tonight in a presidential debate clash with Barack Obama that could lift him towards the White House or dash the hopes he has long nurtured.
Romney is trailing narrowly but consistently in virtually all national polls and is is 3.6 points behind in the RealClearPolitics poll average. Many polls in swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida - two of which he has to win - show him even further behind.
As many as 60 million people could be watching the event, which will be televised in prime time from the University of Denver. Some 3,000 journalists are in the Colorado state capital for the event with every gaffe, zinger or awkward moment liable to be winging around the world within seconds via Twitter.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that voters, by a 56-29 percent margin, expect Obama to 'win' the debates. This gives Romney a chance to exceed expectations - something that it will be hard for Obama to do.
Against this backdrop, the Denver debate marks the moment at which the man who made millions as a turnaround consultant had perhaps his last big opportunity to alter the trajectory of a race that many Republicans is slipping away from him.
During a break for lunch at Chipotle in Denver in Tuesday, Romney was asked by reporters if he was ready. 'I’m getting there,', he said. In Nevada, where he was practicing, Obama went on a tour of the Hoover Dam and described the preparation as 'a drag'.
The debate, the first between will begin at 9pm Eastern Time and run for 90 minutes. The two men will be behind podiums but there will be no bells, buzzers or strict time limits. Cheering, which became a feature of the sometimes raucous Republican primary debates, is prohibited.