Obama preps in Va. for 2nd debate showdown

(CBS News) WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - In 24 days, Americans will elect a president. According to the latest national Gallup poll, Mitt Romney now leads Barack Obama by two points -- 49 percent to 47 percent-- a statistical dead heat

The state of the race has been shaken up in the last 10 days since the first presidential debate. Look at Florida, a crucial state for both men: A poll by two of the state's largest newspapers has Gov. Romney up by seven points, 51 percent to 44 percent. That's an eight-point swing since September when the president led by one. This creates more pressure for both candidates heading into their second debate on Tuesday in Hempstead, New York.

Polls taken this week also show Gov. Romney pulling even in Colorado and in Virginia, so the campaign has cleared the president's schedule the next three days. He is in Virginia doing debate prep and that's about it -- a shift from the way he spent his time before the first debate.

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After a short 20-minute flight from Andrews Air Force Base, the president headed to this upscale golf resort along the James River, though aides say he likely won't be hitting the links.

Unlike in Nevada, where the president did debate prep, there will be no rallies either, leaving more time for mock debates after an uneven performance in Denver.

Meanwhile, Gov. Romney and his top aides held a practice session Saturday morning at a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, before heading to a rally with 3,500 supporters who cheered when Romney brought up the first debate.

"I had a debate about a week ago," he told the crowd. "I enjoyed that a great deal. I got to be honest."

How is the president's performance in the first debate shaping up his preparation for the second debate? The president is simply spending more time preparing. There is really no substitute from standing there at a podium, taking questions from the left and the right, questions that you might not be prepared to answer otherwise. Before the first debate, his campaign was really lowering expectations, saying the president's pretty rusty. They're not saying it this time. They're saying he's taking preparation very seriously.

They also have to contend with a new debate format. This debate Tuesday night will be a town hall format, so both he and Gov. Romney will be taking questions from the moderator, but also from members of the audience. And that creates a challenge for the Obama campaign because Gov. Romney is very comfortable in a town hall format. For a long time, he was doing more town halls out on the campaign trail than rallies.

But also because if the Obama campaign is looking for a comeback, a way to turn around his performance from the first debate, it's challenging. He can't go after Gov. Romney as much as he would in a normal debate format because he's also is going to have to be working on connecting with the members of the audience and dealing with the questions they are asking.

  • Nancy Cordes On Twitter»

    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.

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