Hoosiers seek message in tonight's debate


Tonight in Colorado, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will face off for the first time in a live public presidential debate - a debate that matters to Indiana voters. 

The reason it matters is because Indiana has a lot of undecided voters. And we're just under five weeks away from the election.  Pundits from both parties tend to agree that Indiana will vote Romney. Several polls indicate he'll take up to 52 percent of the votes, and President Obama only 40 percent.  But this is the key number 11 percent still unsure who they'll vote for next month. 

Because of those numbers, neither of the candidates has made a public appearance in Indiana during this campaign.  In the last election, Indiana was a battle ground state, but not this time.  So the campaigns have done some private fundraising here, but that's about it. 

"People who are not political junkies, not active in the parties, but care about the country, now we're in the final month," said Eyewitness News GOP analyst Peter Rusthoven. "Now, it's serious and we've got a decision to make.  And I think an awful lot of people are just now coming to that point."

Democrat analyst Robin Winston said, "Every lead story is the battle ground states, how the president is winning these states, where Romney is going; why these are battle ground and in spite of that, there's still about 8-10 percent of the people that are undecided.  So we're trying to figure out why they're still undecided and maybe these debates will matter to them."

So you can debate the number of undecided, but it's a large number, leaving the Democrats especially concerned after Obama won Indiana in the last election.

The debate is an opportunity to hear from the candidates speaking in not just sound bites, but extended answers.  We posed the question on our Facebook page:  What would you like to hear?

Some of the answers:

"I don't want to hear about what's wrong with our country," said one poster, "but details about how they intend to bring about positive change. NO DOUBLE TALK PLEASE!!"

Another post said, "I expect to hear the truth from each candidate, and why they deserve to be president the next 4 years."

As Winston points out, the race is not over with yet.  "Indiana has moved from red to pink on the scale and I still tell people, as long as there are people who are dissatisfied with Mitt Romney, there's still a potential for the president to win.    ...">

The debate airs at 9 p.m. on Channel 13.