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Presidential debates: Obama and Romney prepare

The candidates will meet in Denver on Oct. 3 for the first of three presidential debates.

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US presidential candidates Barack Obama (L) and Mitt Romney on the campaign trial. (Marc Serota/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama and the Republican challenger for his job, Mitt Romney, are spending the next few days cramming for the presidential debates, Voice of America reported.

The two candidates for US president are scheduled to meet in Denver on Oct. 3 for the first of three debates, according to VOA. Wednesday’s debate will focus on the economy, healthcare and the role of government. The two will face off on foreign policy issues in debates scheduled for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.

Mitt Romney has been practicing with Ohio Republican US Senator Rob Portman, who’s taken on the role of Obama in mock debate sessions, Reuters reported. According to Reuters:

Expecting Obama to get personal with attacks on Romney's wealth, the mock sessions have covered how Romney should handle such criticism.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is playing Romney in mock debate sessions with Obama, according to the Hill.

Meanwhile, both the Democratic and Republican campaigns are attempting to portray their candidate as the underdog going into the debates. Romney advisers noted that while this will be Obama's eighth one-on-one presidential debate, it’s Romney’s first time, Reuters reported. "President Obama is a very gifted speaker with substantial debate experience," Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told Reuters.

First debates "generally favor challengers,” Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod wrote in a memo released Friday, the Hill reported. "The challenger, unencumbered by the responsibilities of being the President, has more time to prepare — a benefit of which Gov. Romney has taken full advantage," he wrote.

What the candidates say may ultimately not be the deciding factor for voters. Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for former President George W. Bush's 2004 campaign, told Voice of America that a candidate’s style tends to make more of an impression on voters than their platform during a presidential debate.

"If you take a look at the history of debates, it's not really about policy specifics, it's not really about facts. People have heard a lot about that,” he said. “It's more about what are the cues that indicate the kind of person or personality or how they're [the candidates are] going to be, their mannerisms.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120929/presidential-debates-obama-romney-denver