Obama's make or break
Losing ground to Republican Mitt Romney on a host of issues, President Barack Obama will face a serious challenge to put his re-election bid back on track when the two men face off today in their second debate.
Obama's passive performance in their first debate two weeks ago, and Romney's subsequent surge in the polls, have raised expectations for a more fiery encounter at New York's Hofstra University.
Obama's team has been encouraged by the feisty performance of Vice-President Joe Biden last week in his debate against Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
With Romney having virtually erased Obama's lead in national polls three weeks before the November 6 election, Obama is hoping to take advantage of the town hall-style format of today's debate to make a direct pitch to the voters. He is likely to propound his economic vision, which focuses on a tax breaks for the middle class and tax increases for the wealthy.
Romney has called for across-the-board tax cuts. He sparred with Obama over whether his plan would add to the US's debt problems.
On Sunday, Reuters/Ipsos surveys of likely voters indicated that Romney had closed the gap, or overtaken Obama, in the past two weeks on a range of issues, including creating jobs, taxes and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Though the US unemployment rate dipped below 8% last month for the first time since Obama took office in January 2009, Romney now leads the incumbent by 42.5% to 39.2% among likely voters on the question of who would be better at creating jobs.