90 minutes and nothing new?


October 3rd, 2012

Omaha, NE – Tonight is the first debate between the two presidential candidates: Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Over 50 million people are expected to tune in. Robyn Wisch checked in with political analyst Paul Landow for a preview of what Nebraskans will be looking for.

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Robyn Wisch: Paul, thanks so much for joining us today.

Paul Landow: Happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

President Obama and Mitt Romney have both made campaign stops in nearby Council Bluffs, vying for Iowa’s swing vote and possibly Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District’s. (Photos by Robyn Wisch)

RW: Presidential debates are a unique opportunity for voters to kind of get a sense of the candidates. There are these “unscripted” moments that people hope for where they can get an idea of who these candidates really are. But even in this format, the candidates are so practiced and rehearsed. What kind of opportunity do you think we’ll have tonight to really get to see something new from them?

PL: Well, it’s interesting the way you put that. These debates are very exciting for people and particularly for the candidates because they don’t want to make a mistake. But in terms of what really comes out of them, it’s really hard to say. Sometimes you get a little bit of insight that you didn’t have already. But in the electronic age, when most people know the candidates pretty well by now, particularly a sitting president, you can wind up with an hour and a half debate and walk away saying ‘Well, that didn’t say much at all. That didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.’”

Paul Landow is a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska Omaha. (Courtesy photo)

RW: Polls in Nebraska show Mitt Romney has a comfortable lead over President Obama across the state. But the numbers are much narrower in the 2nd Congressional District, which did send a vote to President Obama in 2008. That was the first time the state had ever split that way. So what do you think Nebraskans will be looking for tonight as they make their final decisions and will look to swing those numbers in either direction?

PL: Well, I think to a large extent Nebraskans are concerned about the exact same things that the rest of the country are concerned about. That is to a very large extent the economy. People want to know where we’re headed, and when things are going to get better. They want to know what the situation is with jobs, particularly their jobs. And in that sense, Nebraskans and the rest of the country are pretty well in tune.

RW: Paul Landow is a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Paul, thanks so much for your time today.

PL: Thanks for having me on. Nice talking to you.

The University of Nebraska Omaha is hosting a debate watch party tonight at the College of Public Affairs and Community Service. The event begins at 7:30pm. And the debate is scheduled to begin at 8pm.

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