I think Bush will be challenged to do well in the town hall format even though he has held many town hall meetings in his campaign. The difference will be that tonight's meeting will not have strong supporters, it will have undecided voters.
I expect Bush's facial expressions will improve, but he's going to have a hard time sticking to his scripted remarks, especially for 90 minutes. Last time he had about 30 minutes of material for a 90 minute debate.
I hope that we can hear some discussion of policy proposals on the domestic front. I think those issues are going to sway more undecideds than the war which is mostly viewed as a quagmire for both sides.
If Bush continues to link job creation to education then Kerry will win, because he has more specific ideas. Bush will claim to have created jobs in the last year, but Kerry will call him on that as the first President to lose jobs during his administration. He's also the first President to have a stock market decline during his administration.
Lastly, I suggest that Kerry make three specific points:
- Draw the comparison between the need and Bush's supprt for accountability for teachers that is provided through the Leave No Child Behind Act so that parents have the opportunity for change if the results are unsatisfactory. This opens the door for the obvious comparison to the unsatisfactory results of the Bush administration and the complete lack of accountability that they have had for their performance.
- Emphasize the increasing budget deficit, and Kerry's commitment to a "pay as you go" policy versus Bush's "tax-cut and spend" policy.
and most importantly...
- GIVE A CONCISE 30 SECOND ANSWER TO EXPLAIN HIS POSITION ON IRAQ!