As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney prepare for their first U.S. presidential debate this Wednesday, analysts are already expecting the debate to yield shifts in voter opinion.
In an exclusive interview with Benny Toker of Arutz 7, Marc Zell, the Chair of the Republican Party in Israel, Zell expressed hope that the debates would shift voter opinion to the Republican campaign, as Obama's foreign policy missteps will overshadow domestic promises.
"Up until a month ago the American public still thought Obama was excelling in his dealings with foreign policy. But after the attacks on the U.S. Embassy (in Benghazi) and everything that followed in the Middle East, there is a shift and the public believes more in Romney," said Zell.
"Specifically, after Netanyahu's speech (at the UN General Assembly) the topic of foreign policy has become a very important and central subject. I'm not saying the economy is not the most important topic in these elections, but more and more Americans are taking an interest in international relations," Zell continued.
According to Zell, Obama's race is his biggest trump card, saying, "An important pundit in the U.S. wrote that the reason that the race is still very close, regardless of Obama's recent failures, is that the public doesn't want to get rid of its first black president."
Zell predicts the debates will play in Romney's favor, saying, "The U.S. elections of 1980 were also greatly affected by the debates and this will be the case again. Obama has already said he's not a good debater. Maybe he's afraid of the debate with Romney and because of that he's lowering expectations."
Obama spoke on Sunday of the upcoming debate at a rally in a Hispanic suburb of Las Vegas, saying, "The media is speculating already on who is going to have the best zingers ... who's going to put the most points on the board…Governor Romney, he's a good debater ... I'm just okay."
Whether he was being serious, sarcastic, or using humor to play to the crowd, Obama knows how much is riding on this debate, no matter what the current polls say. Analysts, pundits, reporters and the American people will be watching with great interest tomorrow to see how each candidate handles the questions thrown at them and whether or not it causes a real shift in polls.