October 16, 2012 (WABC) -- I'm spending the afternoon and early evening - reporting for Eyewitness News at 4, 5 and 6 - at Carle Place Diner in Nassau County on Long Island. It's just a few minutes down the road from Hofstra University - the site of tonight's second of three Presidential debates.
It's not often that a university is asked to host a Presidential debate two elections in a row - but the debate commission was apparently so impressed with Hofstra's hosting in 2008 that it asked for a reprise in 2012. The university's president told me it was a slam dunk decision to accept - it's good for the school and even better for the students, he said. After all, who has more at stake in this election than the people who will be entering the workforce by the time of the next Presidential election?
No shortage of food at this diner - and no shortage of political opinions. Nassau County was once a solid Republican stronghold - the most Republican county in the country is how it billed itself 30 years ago, sending a town supervisor by the name of Alphonse D'Amato to the U.S. Senate. It has gone Democratic in recent years; Obama carried it with nearly 54 percent of the vote. And oh how he hopes he gets that this time, right?
What a difference one debate makes. The pundits had been readying the political obituary for Mitt Romney before he took the stage in Denver two weeks ago. Now, the latest Gallop tracking poll shows him leading Pres. Obama 50-46. Romney, who never enjoyed hitting the 50 percent mark during any of his primary battles, suddenly has some steam.
The battleground states remain battleground, and the electoral college voting patterns still favor Mr. Obama. Which makes tonight's debate at Hofstra crucial.
You can see the debate on Ch. 7, starting at 9 tonight, or on our website, 7online, and our iPad app. You can also join the discuss on Facebook and on Twitter @eyewitnessnyc or use the hashtag #HofstraDebate. And we'll have highlights tonight on Eyewitness News at 11.
We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.
Subscribe to my page on Facebook at facebook.com/billritter.wabc.
Follow my tweets at www.twitter.com/billritter7.
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