Obama, Romney gear up for town hall showdown

October 15, 2012 (CHICAGO)

With 22 days left until Election Day, both candidates know Tuesday's debate is critical.

As the president delivered pizzas to campaign workers in Virginia Sunday, he did not appear to be under any new pressure. Even Mr. Obama has agreed that he performed poorly during the first debate in Denver.

Republican nominee Romney also spent Monday in preparation for Tuesday night. His vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan carried the campaign's message in nearby Wisconsin -- one of the battleground states -- expected to determine the election's outcome.

"If we get ahead of our problems, if we tackle our problems before they tackle us we can get America back on the right track and these young kids coming out of school can come into an economy of opportunity, can come to an economy where they can make the most of their lives because that's the American Dream," Ryan told the crowd.

The latest ABC News\Washington Post poll shows the president holding a narrow, but within the margin of error, lead over Gov. Romney. Another survey suggests Romney has a similarly fragile lead in 10 battleground states.

Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel says the president must make an issue of what Emanuel described as Romney's anti-middle class record and the Obama administration's efforts to repair the economy.

"He believes fundamentally in the middle class as a bastion for that economic growth versus another person who either when it come to the auto industry said let it go bankrupt or when it came to what he considers the unwanted 47 percent," Emanuel said.

Tuesday night's debate will be conducted in the town hall style with the candidates answering questions from voters. Debate experts agree it is the most difficult kind of format for which a presidential candidate can prepare.

ABC 7'S political reporter Charles Thomas will be at New York's Hofstra University for tomorrow night's presidential debate. He'll have live reports Tuesday afternoon beginning on our news at 4 p.m.

You can watch the debate live at 8 p.m on ABC7 or online at www.ABC7Chicago.com.

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