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Boy, is it ever the economy! Obama and Romney kick off debate season tonight

President Obama and Mitt Romney in Ohio, June 14, 2012.
President Obama and Mitt Romney in Ohio, June 14, 2012.
Obama-J. Samad/Romney-E. Vucci/Obama-Getty/Romney-AP

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“It’s the economy, stupid” is a phrase coined by political strategist James Carville during Bill Clinton’s first successful presidential campaign in 1992, but those words couldn’t be truer than they are in the 2012 presidential race. In fact, the economy is so significant that it will be the focus of over half of tonight’s first debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

While the economy is certainly a primary concern to many if not most voters, not everyone is pleased with how much airtime will be spent talking about financial security. Some relatives of victims in the Aurora shooting massacre, which happened near the Denver debate location, sent a letter to moderator Jim Lehrer asking for gun control issues to be addressed. Another issue that may not see the light of day in the debate is the overpopulation of the U.S. prison system.

Is the economy important enough to warrant over half the focus of tonight’s debate? What other important issues are not being given enough attention throughout this year’s presidential race?


John McCormick, politics reporter for Bloomberg News

William Beach, director, The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis

Dean Baker, economist & co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research