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Debate preview: What Obama must do

The poll numbers have stabilized and it looks like a dead heat in the race for president of the United States.  Now all the attention turns to the town

The poll numbers have stabilized and it looks like a dead heat in the race for president of the United States.  Now all the attention turns to the town hall-style presidential debate Tuesday night at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York.

President Obama has a shot to close the door on Mitt Romney. It’s a shot he didn't take in the last debate and needs to take this time.

Tuesday night’s town hall debate will not be the same affair as it was October 3. The podiums are gone. The candidates are going to have to look comfortable and welcoming to a room full of undecided voters.

The president needs to go after Romney but at the same time, he cannot look like a pit bull on stage. He needs to communicate on a different level. That’s a tough order. It’s a fine line to walk.

“[Obama] needs to be forceful not just about Mitt Romney, but about how far this country has traveled in four years,” says Richard Wolffe, msnbc Political Analyst, and Vice President and Executive Editor of

“The key [to these town hall debates] is to subtly and as well as you can, to try to get the audience behind you in demanding asking questions or demanding answers of the other person,” said Howard Fineman, NBC News political analyst and the editorial director of the Huffington Post Media Group.  “It’s a tricky bank shot. But if it works, it can work very well.

According to NBC's Kristen Welker, sources close to the Obama campaign say the president will probably bring up Mitt Romney’s infamous 47 percent comments during Tuesday's debate. The comments from the secretly recorded fundraiser video are still really the soft underbelly of the Romney campaign.

It’s the best attack to show the American people Mitt Romney is not acceptable as the choice for president because he says one thing behind closed doors and something else on numerous occasions other places.

The stakes are high for the president because the road is not going to get any easier after the debate. Romney raised $170 million in September before the first debate. There's also untold millions of dark money to funnel into super PAC ad campaigns.

The cash onslaught will hit President Obama hard. He can’t afford to be playing catch up after another lackluster debate performance. He needs to get it done Tuesday night.

Obama needs to done one basic thing Tuesday night: inspire his supporters.  People who watch these debates want to know that their guy is on the same page with them. People don`t want to be screaming at their television sets (like the first debate) saying, “say this, say this, don`t let him get away with that.”

The president needs to erase the memory of two weeks ago and show that he will fight to the very end for this country and for the middle class.

Every night on this show, Ed says four words: “Let’s get to work.”  Tuesday night, President Obama will be on the clock and he has his work cut out for him.