TAMPA - President Barack Obama and Former Governor Mitt Romney are set to square off in their second presidential debate Tuesday night and the stakes may be higher than usual.
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It's widely accepted that the challenger, Romney, trounced the President in round one, and took away his lead in some national and state polls. The question is: Can he recover that lead or will he fall further behind with just three weeks until the election?
President Barack Obama made a good enough impression at the West Tampa Sandwich shop last month to get a sandwich named after him. It's a favorite stop for mostly Democratic candidates and customers who still back Obama even after his disappointing debate performance.
Customer Mike Hardy is still in Obama's corner.
"He may have lost the debate because he was kind of shy that night, but he still hasn't lost my vote," said Hardy.
But Jack White, picking up a to-go order is betting on Mitt for debate number two. "I think Romney is going to take it."
So do many other independent voters who came away from the first debate impressed with Mitt Romney's energy and command of the format.
In ten key battleground states including Florida, the president has lost his pre-debate lead and trails Romney now by two points.
"We have not seen a debate have that much impact since I don't remember when," said USF Political Science professor Susan MacManus, who believes these debates carry even more weight with Florida voters.
"A lot of Floridians who have been subjected to so many (political) ads just like to tune in to hear the candidates in their own words for more than thirty seconds," said MacManus .
Tomorrow's town hall format is thought to favor President Obama's more relaxed personal style over Mitt Romney's stiffness, but MacManus thinks he'll have to alter his usual delivery.
"The President has a tendency to talk a little long and give long explanations. The Town Hall format is probably not the place to do that."
Both sides are trying to lock up as many early and absentee votes as they can.
Because roughly one in four Floridians will vote early, these debates take on even more importance.
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