Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs - now a senior Obama campaign adviser - does not believe the president has lost any real ground in what he says has always been a close race, and he is confident Obama will erase the less-than-energetic impression he left after the first debate in Denver.
"I think what you'll see tonight is a passionate, energetic president that is gonna talk about the four years that we've been through, the economic calamities that we've climbed out of," said Gibbs. "There's not been a day where I'd rather be in their shoes than in our shoes."
Illinois' Republican national committeeman, Richard Williamson, of north suburban Kenilworth, predicted Mitt Romney will continue to impress independent voters as he did in Denver.
"Their campaign has been mostly class warfare and fear," said Williamson. "They got a chance to see Mitt Romney - smart guy, experienced guy, positive programs - as an option, as an alternative."
In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama debated Senator John McCain in a formal setting at Hofstra.
Tuesday night's debate with Mitt Romney will be conducted in the town hall format with questions asked by 80 undecided voters.
"There is more of an opportunity or, I think, more of an expectation of seeing the candidates as connecting with voters, being democratic leaders and being presidential," said Prof. Meena Bose, Hofstra University.
Democratic Party leader Patrick Gaspard predicts the president will unmask Romney's extreme conservatism on women's rights, taxes and immigration.
"And he wants to do things that will just bring us back to the kinds of policies that caused our economy downtown," said Gaspard.
But Romney's surrogates call their candidate a pragmatist.
"Gov. Romney is a man who's very analytical and he's willing to take a look at the reality of the situation and realize what works and what doesn't work," said Sen. Ron Johnson, (R) Wisconsin.