The first presidential debate, set for Wednesday in Denver, will be aimed squarely at the economy, with the second half of the 90-minute session devoted to healthcare, the role of government and governing.
It would have been hard to imagine even a month ago that either the candidates, political operatives or the public would have any objection to that focus. But now changes in the news may have at least Republican Mitt Romney hoping to expand the conversation to other topics, including the recent unrest in Libya and the rest of the Mideast.
After the Oct. 3 debate opener, the candidates will have to wait almost two weeks for the Oct. 16 followup—a town hall-style contest in which foreign and domestic topics will be welcome. The final debate on Oct. 22 is slated to center exclusively on foreign affairs. Then there will be just over two weeks to go until election day.
With questions continuing to swirl about the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis in Libya, where U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed Sept. 11, there is sentiment in at least some Republican circles for raising the topic in debate No. 1.
Fox News personality Megyn Kelly wondered aloud on her show Friday whether Romney would be able to go after President Obama on Libya during the first debate. She asked her colleague Bret Baier. Baier opined that the Commission on Presidential Debates draws its guidelines too tightly to allow such freelancing.