With Election Day on the horizon, issues take center stage

Barack Obama Mitt Romney Generic White House election campaign politics 2012 vote debate CBS News/AP

The election of 2012 is coming into its final stage. President Obama and Mitt Romney will participate in three debates and their running mates will meet for one. Prepare yourself for a blizzard of claims, counter-claims, jargon, fact-checking and debates about the fact-checkers. If you've felt lost in this presidential campaign so far, you will find the thicket to come even more confusing.

To help you navigate through this period, CBS News has created Issues 2012: In Depth, a series of briefings on the issues that are likely to come up in the debates -- or that should. 

Full coverage: Issues 2012: In Depth

These briefings are a little different than what you may have seen before. They will not simply list the candidate positions. Instead the goal is to try to give some context about the challenges surrounding any given issue. The sounds bites you will hear from the candidates and the issue positions found on their web pages are limited and frustrating to voters. They make intractable problems seem easily solvable.

The goal of this series is to help us all-- the press, the politicians and the public-- move the conversation a little further, past the past the rote responses and into the heart of the challenges facing the country.

The goal is not to be exhaustive. You could write a book on each topic -- or a shelf of them. It's a start. The hope is that with your help these briefings will grow between now and the final debate and Election Day.

Unlike the candidates who are prepared to say a limited amount on a given topic, we will be updating and modifying these briefings as we hear from readers who pose questions we think are worth answering or who offer new material that can be added to make the topics richer. We will also be adding stories from CBS News journalists that touch on each issue area.

It is a common complaint of press coverage of the presidential campaign that it is focused too much with the horse-race. Issues 2012: In Depth is an effort to compliment that coverage of the battle between the candidates with a look at the issues they should be discussing so that you can make an informed decision as a voter.

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