Debates: Round Two

Barack Obama and John McCain will convene tonight at Belmont University in Nashville for their second round of debates starting at 9pm Eastern. The debate will be in a town hall format in which candidates respond to questions by an audience of undecided voters.

McCain has a reputation for thriving in these town hall-style events in which the interactive audience tends to feed McCain with energy. Obama’s strength, on the other is his ability to stay cool and even no matter what the format.

Expect, however, for both candidates to go more on the offensive and to utilize the attacks against one another that both campaigns have been developing in the last few weeks.

Although Obama has missed several opportunities to push back against McCain’s charges in these debates, some polls find that viewers prefer to see a candidate stay composed and stay above that kind of debating style.

Tonight Obama will have maintain his lead over McCain on policies such as the economy, health care, and education. McCain will have to continue to convince voters that Obama is inexperienced and has bad foreign policy.

Obama will probably link McCain to Keating, Bush and the failings of the war in Iraq while McCain links Obama to Ayers, Ahmadinejad and big government.

We’ve heard the talking points, we’ve heard the attacks and we know where each candidate stands. What we haven’t yet seen much of, and what we may get some glimpses of tonight, is the personal sides of each candidate as emotions rev up in these last 28 days before the election.

–Jamie Wong