Western Herald – Three days, three national debates: what Michigan voters should know
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Three days, three national debates: what Michigan voters should know

Ted Yoakum
Staff Reporter

While the days and hours remaining before Nov. 6 are slowly ticking down, the candidates for the US Presidency and Congress are looking to land a decisive knockout blow against their opponents before Election Day.

For local voters, tonight’s Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and Tuesday’s Congressional debate between Fred Upton and Mike O’Brien may play a pivotal role in defining the terms of their contests in the waning days of this year’s election cycle. Conversely, the story behind Thursday’s Senatorial “debate” will be defined not by the presence of challenger Pete Hoekstra, but by the absence of his opponent, incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Here’s a little background on each of this week’s debates:

Obama and Romney: Round Three

Tonight at 9 p.m., President Obama and former Massachusetts governor will face-off in the last of their three debates. The contest will take place at Lynn University, in Boco Raton, Fla.

The format will be similar to that used in the first debate between the two, with the event broken up into six 15 minute segments, with questions chosen in advance by the moderator. The man who will hold that responsibility this evening will be CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer.

Unlike the first debate, though, the questions posed to the candidates will focus on foreign policy issues. The American public already got a taste of Obama’s and Romney’s perspectives in this department, as audience members asked both candidates similar questions during last week’s town meeting debate.

The questions should range throughout the foreign policy spectrum, from their thoughts on the planned 2014 military withdrawal from Afghanistan to their views on trade policy with China. However, two issues are expected to stand above all others: the continuing intelligence fall-out from the Benghazi embassy attacks, and the upcoming negotiations with the Iranian government over their nuclear weapon development.

The fact that tonight’s venue takes place in a crucial swing state adds to the intrigue of their clash. A recent aggregate poll, compiled by Real Clear Politics, shows that Romney holds a two point lead over Obama in Florida.

The one remaining question will be what side of President Obama we will see tonight. Although sluggish performance during the first confrontation with the Republican worried many of his supporters, the Democrat was fired up during last week’s debate, with both candidates frequently confronting one another throughout the evening.

Upton and O’Brien meet again

Meanwhile, the race for the Congressional seat in Michigan’s Sixth District rages on.

Tomorrow night, Republican incumbent Fred Upton and Democratic challenger Mike O’Brien will face off in their second and final debate before the election, held at the D.C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan. The event, which will run from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., will be moderated by Susan Smith, the president of the Michigan League of Women Voters.

The format will be similar to their first debate, in that the candidates will be given questions by the moderator, with each getting two-minutes to answer followed by an additional minute for rebuttal.

Eariler in the month, the two went head-to-head for the first time at WMU’s Knauss Hall. During that debate, which was moderated by MLive.com and WMUK, the St. Joseph Congressman and the Douglas businessman spared on a number of domestic and foreign issues, including unemployment, Afghanistan and healthcare.

This contest may again be crucial in deciding the winner of next month’s election. A recent poll conducted by Myers Research | Strategic Services on behalf the O’Brien campaign shows the former Marine trailing his opponent by five points. Upton has served as the Sixth District in the US House of Representatives for nearly three decades, and currently serves as the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Pete Hoekstra to hold “one man debate” on Thursday

In a race already marred in controversy, the contest for one of Michigan’s two US Senate seats took a step toward the bizarre last week, as candidate Hoekstra announced he would attend Thursday’s Senatorial debate on Thursday, despite the fact Senator Stabenow said she would not.

According to a statement released by her campaign two weeks ago, Stabenow refused to participate in the upcoming event held in Midland. The two had failed to agree on prior dates for debates in recent weeks, leaving this year election cycle without any formal Senate debate.

Both campaigns have done their fair share of finger pointing as to who’s responsible for their current situation.

According to Real Clear Politics, the Democratic incumbent holds a 13 point advantage in the polls over her Republican counterpart.

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