Tonight's debate offers President Obama an opportunity to pick up where the debate left off in Denver.
That is exactly what Republicans seem to be hoping for. But, as they say, be careful of what you wish for because it might come true.
The problem for Romney is that he is trapped. The rhetoric he used in the debate was completely at odds with his campaign.
As Bill Clinton said, Old Moderate Mitt showed up in Denver. Obama let Romney off the hook for the night, but don't expect that to last.
No matter the missed opportunity, Romney so misrepresented his record in Denver that it will be hard for the former Massachusetts Governor to walk it back tonight because Romney won't be lying to President Obama and Jim Lehr, the moderator of the first debate.
Tonight Mitt Romney will be lying about his record to a room full of voters. That is a recipe for a bad moment, at the very least.
The debate this evening will be a Town Hall style of debate, where audience members ask the questions. Having planned their questions in advance, they are likely to know when they are being lied to.
In the Denver debate Romney denied his tax cut existed. Since then his campaign has leaned into the massive Romney/Ryan tax cut to benefit the wealthy in campaign advertising.
Expect that discrepancy to come up tonight.
I'd also expect a reminder of Romney's trashing of 47 percent of Americans, both by the president and by at least one member of the audience.
Joe Biden opened some differences between Romney and Ryan at the Vice Presidential debate. Look for Romney to be called out, for example, on his attempt to move from the far right on choice last week and their plan to create a couponing scheme for Medicare.
Most importantly, for Obama, he needs to come out with energy and challenge Romney's vision for America.
As for Mitt Romney, he needs to avoid the mistakes that George H. W. Bush made in his town hall debate with Bill Clinton. Romney cannot afford to come off as dismissive of the middle class or unable to connect on basic economic issues.
In other words, Mitt needs to mask his belief that 47 percent of Americans are unwilling to take responsibility for their lives. He needs to refrain from reminding voters that he likes to fire people. He should avoid mentioning his accountant. All while he tries to deny that he is severely conservative.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.
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