The stage is set, but who will steal the limelight? All day long the question has been: will the first Presidential debate be a one-man show, or a duel between Barack Obama and John McCain?
The Democratic senator always said he will be there, and in the end McCain confirmed he will turn up too.
They put aside their differences earlier this month in New York City, when they mourned the victims of 9/11. Then they went to the White House to discuss the financial crisis with President Bush.
McCain wanted to postpone the Presidential debate until the crisis was resolved. The Democrats believed he was reluctant to defend Republican policies. Political science professor Bruce Cain, from the University of California, says the debate will be crucial:
“The Democrats prefer to have a debate about issues and not about character, and vice versa, the Republicans would rather talk about character and not about issues. But the reality is they have to address both dimensions because they can swing votes.”
For some, tonight’s debate evokes memories of 1960’s face-off between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, which Kennedy was perceived to have won hands down, propelling the youthful Democratic senator to the White House.
Obama will be hoping for a similar outcome, McCain a different result.