U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will be mostly out of sight Monday, as each man prepares for the first nationally televised debate of the 2012 presidential race.
Obama will gather with his campaign advisors at a resort in Nevada, where he held a rally for 11,000 people on Sunday outside the city of Las Vegas. The president joked that he was "just OK" at debating compared to Romney, whom he described as a "good debater." But Obama said he wanted Wednesday's debate to be about more than which candidate can deliver the best "zingers" - memorable phrases aimed at mocking or embarrassing an opponent.
"But what I'm most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we need to do to keep the country growing and restore security for hard working Americans," Obama stated. "That's what people will be listening for, that's the debate that you deserve."
Romney will meet with his advisers in his home state of Massachusetts Monday before traveling to Denver, Colorado, the site of Wednesday's debate. Unlike Romney campaign insiders, one of Romney's Republican allies, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, predicted Sunday that the former Massachusetts governor will do so well the "whole race is going to turn upside down" the day after the debate.
''But what I will tell you is, this is the first moment when the American people are going to be able to see these two guys side by side, laying out their vision, unfiltered," Christie noted. "And I think that's going to be a powerful moment for Mitt Romney.''
Recent public opinion polls indicate Obama has a significant lead over Romney in many of the so-called swing states expected to decide the November 6 election.
The Republican candidate's standing has fallen since a video surfaced earlier this month showing him telling wealthy supporters that 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes and consider themselves "victims" entitled to government support. He said these Americans will vote for President Obama "no matter what."
Wednesday's debate, which will be held at the University of Denver, will be devoted to domestic issues, such as the economy and health care.
Foreign policy issues will be covered in the second and third debates, scheduled for October 16 and October 22.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.