First debate called critical for Mitt Romney
Higher stakes than for Obama
After months of sniping from a distance, President Obama and Mitt Romney are nearing the unsparing crucible of one-on-one debates that could alter the dynamics of the presidential campaign. For Romney, particularly, the stakes are enormous. After a month of missteps and missed opportunities — from his convention speech, to his reaction after the US ambassador’s death in Libya, to a video in which he described nearly half the country as government-dependent “victims” — Romney faces three tests in the national spotlight, beginning Oct. 3 in Denver, that could bolster or bury his chances.