Just 21 days to go. The pressure on the president this time. Jake tapper is at hofstra where the candidates are square off. Good morning, jake. Reporter: Good morning, george. President obama referred... See More
Just 21 days to go. The pressure on the president this time. Jake tapper is at hofstra where the candidates are square off. Good morning, jake. Reporter: Good morning, george. President obama referred to the race as tied. But in some polls, mitt romney has a slight lead. It makes the second debate far more important than president obama could have anticipated. President obama is hunkered down at this luxurious golf resort, taking an occasional break from his debate prep, with a stroll around the rolling greens. This is how serious the president is about his debate prep. He left his golf clubs at the white house. Mitt romney's mock debate is played by ohio rob senator rob portman. How did it go, senator? Great. Reporter: Tonight is the one and only town hall style debate. It's a performance that can bring curve balls. I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted at defending you, defending your administration. Reporter: Mitt romney will look for momentum following his first debate performance. But he has to knock down the idea that he cannot relate to the average american. Candy crowley agitated both campaigns ahead of the debate by suggesting, heaven forbid, that she might ask follow-up questions. If something comes up that could use a little further explanation, it might be that the question said oranges and you answer ed apples. Reporter: In past town halls, it was the candidates themselves, and not the way they wanted. Like the 2008 debate, where john McCAIN SEEMED TO BE WANDERING Aimlessly around the stage. Or in 2000, when al gore walked up to governor george w. Bush. In a way that governor bush later referred to as getting in his chili. And this classic move from george h.W. Bush, where he checked the time. He would soon have plenty of it. This town hall debate provides candidates an opportunity to have an exchange with voters about their concerns. But it also provides them with an opportunity to mess up that interaction and appear out of touch and clueless. It really is high-takes. Let's bring in matthew dowd with more.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.