WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - For once in his life, President Obama will seek to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
That is: Recovering from a bad first debate.
When they sought re-election in 1984 and 2004, presidents Reagan and Bush both had less-than-stellar first debate performances -- and both recovered and went on to win re-election.
Reagan in particular had a good second debate against Democratic challenger Walter Mondale.
After a stumbling, halting performance had led to questions about his age, the 73-year-old Reagan said early during the re-match: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."
As we've noted, incumbent presidents often struggle in their first debates -- and some have not recovered.
President Jimmy Carter never got a second debate against Reagan in 1980, and many attribute much of his loss to that single showdown between the candidates.
Debates also did not help President George H.W. Bush when he lost to Bill Clinton in 1992.
Which presidents will Obama emulate on the debate stage? We begin finding out tonight.
By David Jackson