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Debate viewers learn that Romney can be wonky, too

By CONNIE CASS

WASHINGTON (AP) — Debate watchers got a look at the two presidential candidates' style and moxie as well as their policies. Mitt Romney showed that when the pressure's on, he can rise to the occasion and stand up for his ideas. With a thin lead in the polls, Obama prefers to play it safe.

Romney sounds smooth and in command, like a business executive making a sales pitch. Obama's style is professorial and halting, as if pausing to reflect mid-sentence.

Jennifer Mercieca, a Texas A&M associate professor who studies political discourse, says both men dove into complicated policy issues that are hard for viewers to follow. That works to Romney's advantage as the challenger. Mercieca says Romney benefits because he was able to look just as knowledgeable and presidential as Obama.

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