Last updated: September 10, 2012 - 8:55am
Finally, the fall season offers the matchup sure to attract the biggest audience of the campaign: President Barack Obama going one-on-one with Republican Mitt Romney in three prime-time debates.
Typically the top political draw in the final sprint to Election Day, the debates assume outsized importance this year with the race a dead heat. The candidates will have their sound bites and rhetoric down cold so any slip or inadvertent move — remember President George H.W. Bush's exasperated glance at his watch or Democrat Al Gore's repeated sighing? — could roil the campaign for days and linger in voters' mind until Nov. 6. No wonder Romney spent days this past week at the Vermont estate of former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey for debate practice sessions; Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, played the role of Obama. The president has had one practice session with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democrats' stand-in for Romney, and is certain to have several more before the first debate Oct. 3 in Denver.
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