Final preparations are underway ahead of tonight's presidential debate
POSTED: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 1:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 4:38pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — In less than eight hours, Mitt Romney gets his chance to tell President Obama face-to-face what he's been saying in campaign speeches and TV ads: The economy's getting worse.
The president will confront Romney on whether he's really written off "47 percent" of America so the rich can get richer.
The debate will consist of six 15-minute blocks of questions about domestic issues: Jobs, taxes and health care.
Republicans say the bar is high for the president, a skilled debater, and predict Romney's aggressiveness may throw Mr. Obama off balance.
"Going up against Mitt Romney is not a fun thing. He has the facts, he drills you, he's tenacious, and that's the difference between four years ago and this time," says former candidate Rick Santorum, who faced Romney in the Republican debates earlier this year.
The bottom line, Democrats say, is who has specifics.
"The American people sitting at home in their living rooms, they're looking for some details, and I think you'll see President Obama continue to do that," says Obama 2012 deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter.
NBC's latest poll puts the president three points ahead nationally among likely voters, with Romney gaining ground.
Even more interesting are the battleground states.
The NBC-Marist poll shows Romney closing the gap in Virginia and Florida, but not Ohio, where the president is maintaining a strong lead.