Nightly News | October 03, 2012
>>> good evening. before too long now, before the end of the evening, we will know how each man did, we will know if anything happens tonight that will fundamentally change the course of this race. we already know that all this debate expectations management you've been hearing is just that. these two men, president barack obama and governor mitt romney have four ivy league degrees between them and 50 debates between them, though none together and none like this. the incumbent president and the challenger on stage tonight in denver. and to set the stage for that, our political team beginning with peter alexander who covers the romney campaign for nbc news. peter, good evening.
>> reporter: brian, good evening to you. after all the hype and spin, this is where the debate will finally take place. let's give you a quick show around. they'll shake hands in the middle. the president will stand at the podium on the right, mitt romney at the podium on the left. this debate is separated into six 15-minute segments focusing heavily on the economy. touching down in denver this afternoon, president obama has prepared more for these debates than any sitting president in the modern era . while anticipation builds at the tightly controlled debate site mitt romney reviewed in private relaxing with his sons and fueling up on a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
>> i believe that the 21st century can be better than the 20th century .
>> you can do that. it's your future. go claim it.
>> reporter: a brief glimpse of the motorcade.
>> two, three, four, five.
>> reporter: for days advisers from both sides have been negotiating details from lighting to the angle of the podiums. the rules even address which spouse will be introduced first. mrs. romney , then mrs. obama. and a coin toss determined the president will speak first with romney getting the last word.
>> i'd ask the wealthy to pay a little more.
>> more americans are living in poverty.
>> reporter: after a relentless blitz of campaign ads and months hammering home familiar themes --
>> this is a country where everybody should get a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share .
>> we can't afford four more years like the last four years.
>> reporter: -- advisers on both sides agree tonight's debate presents a critical opportunity to break through to the american voter.
>> this is an opportunity really to reach the voters that haven't yet made up their mind in an unfiltered way.
>> they want to hear plans forward. they want to know what the president will do over the course of the next four years.
>> reporter: with polls showing mr. obama leading in the swing states top aides encouraged the president to be himself, don't change what's working one senior adviser said. for his part romney 's advisers say he's prepared, that he just needs to convey his message clearly on the biggest stage of his political career. and throughout the primary debates, brian, mitt romney would write his father's name, george romney on the top of his notepad, his father being his inspiration. he'd write "o" to remind him to focus on plb president obama . but tonight he probably won't need any reminders.