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Debates key in decision process
Race for president enters October
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Forsyth County News

The first in a series of three presidential debates is coming up Wednesday.

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will face off on domestic policy in a Colorado session moderated by Jim Lehrer, longtime PBS news anchor.

The second presidential debate will be held Oct. 16, focusing on both foreign and domestic policy, while the final debate Oct. 22 will address foreign policy.

A debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, is scheduled for Oct. 11.

The election season so far has been divisive, with a majority of Americans saying they have already decided which candidate they will support in the Nov. 6 election.

That’s why both the Republican and Democratic parties of Forsyth County agree the upcoming debates are so important — to woo the undecided.

“They’re extremely important because this election has been predicated to be determined by the undecided 10 or 20 million people that are just sitting on the sidelines,” said Sharon Gunter, chairwoman of the Forsyth County Democratic Party.

“I don’t know what’s taking them so long to decide on a position when all the facts have been out there for such a long time … so they’re probably waiting on watching the debates … they will be what moves the election one way or another.”

Local Republican Party Chairman Ethan Underwood agreed, saying the debates are unlikely to sway voters who have committed to one candidate.

For his candidate, Underwood said Romney needs to differentiate himself from the incumbent president, who “hasn’t delivered on his campaign promises and has been inept in handling the economy.”

Underwood said Romney’s biggest challenge in the debate series will be “making sure folks will believe what he’s said.”

“I think that we’re dealing with an electorate who have become callused to politicians promising something and not delivering,” Underwood said. “I think he needs to be very sensitive to that and get people to trust him that he’s going to provide and perform how he says he will.”

Both Underwood and Gunter were confident in their candidates, saying if they both just stick with the truth, they will prevail.

“If they stick to the facts so that the voters will be totally aware of their positions and the state of the nation … that’s what they need to focus on, so that the voters will be educated and will know which way to vote,” Gunter said.

Underwood said trying to be polite about the issues may not be a good strategy.

“I think the candidate who is honest and upfront with the American people will do the best,” he said. “We’re not stupid. We can take bad news. We just need to know what we need to do.

“I think there are lots of folks out in the country … that are struggling and they really want to know who’s going to manage the government better.”