Republican Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic Senator John Edwards are preparing for their only debate in this year's race for the White House.

Political analysts say the 90 minute debate between Vice President Cheney and Senator Edwards has taken on new meaning, now that some polls show the presidential race is tightening with less than a month to go till the November 2 election.

The vice presidential candidates are expected to discuss the major issues in the campaign including the war on terrorism, the continuing conflict in Iraq and the U.S. economy.

Mr. Edwards, who was a successful trial lawyer before entering politics, is known for his charismatic personality and ability to connect with voters on the campaign trail.

Mr. Cheney has been a Washington insider for decades, serving in Congress and as Secretary of Defense before being picked by President Bush to be his second in command four years ago.

The debate is being held in a gymnasium on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, an important state for both campaigns in this year's elections.

The candidates will be seated at a rounded desk on a red, white, and blue stage across from a moderator who will ask questions.

Sixty students have been selected to join about 700 people who will make up the audience.

University spokesman Michael Ruffner says he expects a large number of Americans will watch the debate on television.

"We originally anticipated between 30 and 35 million viewers with the national television audience," he said. "We suspect it may be as high as 50 million now given the tightening of the race, and we feel that the vice presidential debate will probably establish the whole package. While it may not swing the election, it is a very intriguing match up and we are just delighted to have the only vice presidential debate here at Case."

Vice presidential debates historically have not been extraordinarily important in determining the outcome of a presidential election.

But strategists from Mr. Cheney's Republican Party and Mr. Edward's Democratic Party say because of the timing and personalities of the two candidates this debate could be an exception.