TODAY   |  October 16, 2012

Round two: Obama and Romney prep for debate

With Tuesday’s second presidential debate looming, both candidates spent Monday hidden from the media. President Obama geared up in Virginia while Mitt Romney stayed near his home in Massachusetts. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the all-important presidential debate . chuck todd is here, the chief white house political correspondent. he's here with us this morning.

>> you're a pretty good eater. good at that part of it. a decisive victory for either candidate could create a sense of momentum tough to stop before election day . for mitt romney a second debate win could mean he's finally able to break the president eats strangle hold on state like ohio and wisconsin making the path to 270 electoral vote and for the president a big win could reset the race back to where it was before the first debate when it looked like he was the heavy favorite. it's round two for president obama and mitt romney squaring off in the presidential debate . both spent the day hidden as they finish up for debate appropriations, president obama in virginia and romney here his home in massachusetts. campaigning in pennsylvania ann romney said her husband is ready. mitt's prepared, mitt's confident, mitt's got a good presence about him, and mitt's running because he believes in america.

>> reporter: in a debate that will tackle both domestic and foreign policy issues, the president's handling of libya and the security lapses are sure to come up. traveling in peru monday secretary clinton did a series of interviews claiming what she called full responsibility for the security lapses in benghazi, but to nbc news she made a plea to take politics out of the discussion.

>> i don't think we want to get into any blame game. i think what we want to do is get to the bottom of what happened.

>> reporter: clinton also weighed in on the stakes for her boss in tonight's debate.

>> i think he'll do fine. i think he just has to get out there and talk about what he's done for the country and what he wants to do for the next four years.

>> reporter: tonight's town hall format comes with risks and rewards for both candidate. for mr. obama it's a chance to bolster his likability over romney and make up for widely panned performance in the first debate.

>> you know, four years ago --

>> reporter: for romney , who has done more town halls than the president this year, it's an opportunity to break the stereotype created by the obama campaign that romney 's privilege and out of touch. in fact, town hall debates have proven in the past it's not always what the candidates say that matters but how they say it. you don't want to sound too cranky.

>> you know who voted for for it, might never know, that one or look disengaged or body language can trump all of it.

>> but can he get things done? and i believe i can.

>> very first town hall presidential debate actually featured three candidates. that third candidate was a guy named h. ross perot . ross perot has done something he did in a decade, endorsed for president. he endorsed mitt romney in "the des moines register " and paul ryan is dealing with fallout from the weekend photo-op. he visited a soup kitchen and now according to the " washington post " the president's charity said the dishes were already clean. matt, it's something that the campaign is a little nervous about because they are trying to get through this idea of whether they are in touch or out of touch.

>> right. chuck todd , thanks very