Countdown to the Showdown

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Countdown to the Showdown
By Iris Mansour


The second Presidential debate takes place tonight at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. and the stakes – and tension – could not be higher.

President Obama has seen his polling advantages decline in the wake of a lackluster performance in the first debate at Denver, and Mitt Romney, whose campaign appeared to be heading toward defeat, has been surging. National polls have the race as a virtual tie.

Last week we covered the Vice Presidential debate from several Brooklyn viewing venues, with live dispatches as Vice President Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan fought it out in a far more spirited encounter.

But that was, in boxing parlance, the undercard. The main event, Round 2, begins at 9pm tonight. We´ll be there, live. But we´ll also be monitoring the mood across the borough and on what is shaping up to the biggest night of political theater in years.

We began by capturing the mood in two very different neighborhoods last night, first asking people who they were backing and what advice they might want to offer their candidate.

First stop: the Park Slope Co-op, home of all things organic and liberal.

Eva Bogaisky, who was shopping with her son, didn’t think that the president’s performance in Denver was terrible, but, she added,  “it seemed like it was a drag and he didn’t want to be there.”

She’d prescribe the President a dose of “vigor” and would suggest he acts more like a leader than an intellectual.

Jolene Collins was more direct. She’d tell Obama to “say what he needs to say like Joe Biden did.” The President, she said, needs some “oomph” and “energy,” adding that  “he just seemed really sleepy”.

There were a surprising number of people, like Mike Belcher, who weren’t quite ready to pass judgment before hearing the debate. Although he’s leaning towards Obama,  Belcher didn’t come down strongly for either candidate, preferring to hear their answers before making a choice.

“I don’t feel totally in line with one or the other,” he said “I can’t relate to them at all. It’s hard, they’re not real people. Their lives aren’t really real.

Still, he advised both candidates to “just try to take a chance, have your own identity and be a real person.”

Next stop was Bay Ridge, represented in Congress by Mike Grimm, a Republican and Tea Party favorite. There we met Joe Ritter, another undecided voter. “It’s open,” he said, “like both candidates have their ups and their downs. On some issues I like both sides.”

Jonathan Dennehy, meanwhile, seemed a political outlier in this Republican corner of what is a very Democratic borough.

“Mitt Romney is kind of the devil incarnate, so I don’t really see many options,” he said. He’d ask the President Obama to tax the rich and “to equalize things in this horrible, horrible world we live in.”

Game on.

We´ll be back throughout the day with updates from the field by our reporters, while keeping an eye and ear out, too, for your comments.

Follow us here, or on twitter at #DebateBK.

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