Editor's note: Anderson Cooper reports on the impact of the presidential debate and the state of the race going into the last few weeks of campaigning. Watch AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
A forceful President Barack Obama put Republican challenger Mitt Romney on the defensive on foreign policy on Monday night, with analysts and an immediate poll giving him the victory in their final debate just 15 days before the November 6 vote.
Obama displayed the experience of a commander-in-chief in explaining U.S. policy under his leadership and attacking the views and proposals of Romney, a former Massachusetts governor with less experience on international issues.
Romney ended up supporting most of the Obama administration's steps involving hotspots, such as the civil war in Syria, and preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, giving the president the advantage in a debate in which his GOP rival needed to question foreign policy of the past four years.
Editor's note: Watch Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer and Fareed Zakaria's special coverage of the presidential debate at 7 p.m. ET on CNN.
Unlike last week's contentious town hall-style debate in which the candidates ambled around the stage and parried with each other, Obama and Romney will be seated at a table with moderator Bob Schieffer, who told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram what he hopes comes out of the debate:
"People are watching to judge character. I don't think it matters what the questions are about - what matters is how candidates answer. Do they seem in control? ... I'm just there to help the viewers get a better understanding of who these people are."
Here are five things to watch tonight:
1. How much does Romney know about Libya?
Romney will undoubtedly raise a lot questions about Obama's handling of the terror attack in Libya, but there's a good chance he already has some answers.
Don't forget: Romney has been receiving briefings from the U.S. intelligence community since September 17, as is customary for a presidential challenger in the final stages of a campaign.
His first briefing came a week after the breach of the Benghazi mission left four Americans dead. His second briefing took place at the CIA, on September 27.
Ari Fleischer and Paul Begala discuss the likely topics for the upcoming presidential debate focusing on foreign policy.
Anderson Cooper talks to an expert who interprets the candidates' body language during the second presidential debate, and a former Romney debate strategist points out the highs and lows of the night.
Finger-pointing. Heated confrontations. Tense eye contact. It was all there during last night’s presidential debate. The town hall format gave President Obama and Mitt Romney the ability to move around the stage, like boxers, on the attack.
Tonight, we’ll give you an up close look at the non-verbal messages from both candidates during the more than 90-minute face off. Anderson talks with body language expert Janine Driver and Brett O’Donnell, a former debate strategist for Mitt Romney.
“They were in each other’s space,” said Driver about the first minutes of the debate during the exchange over oil production.
Compared to the first presidential debate, round two introduced a new arena, a different moderator, the voters asked the questions directly, and there was a series of intense exchanges between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The topics ranged from immigration to the job market, equal pay, gun violence, China, tax plans, the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, and the character of the candidates. We asked on Facebook what you would have brought up and got: Medicaid, abortion, LGBT rights, Pell grants, health care, and DOMA. Have an issue to add to the list? Post it in a comment.
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Editor's note: CNN's special presidential debate coverage with Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer and the political team starts at 7 p.m. ET. Watch and join the conversation.
1) Candy... Candy... Candy
Sure, you'll be able to see her on some other channels/websites, but only CNN will have exclusive access to moderator Candy Crowley’s as she prepares for the debate. Dig into this insightful profile about the network’s chief political correspondent and host of Sunday morning’s “State of the Union,” check outadvice she’s getting from the CNN’s top reporters and anchors and listen to suggested questions posted by CNN iReporters.
2. Clip-and-Share Video on CNN.com
Want to hear that quote again? With this tool, you can be your own producer and pause, rewind, and cut your own video clips using our new “clip and share technology” on CNN.com and on the iPad tablet. You can also post key video moments to Facebook and Twitter. Check it out at CNN.com/debates.
Brett O'Donnell, a seasoned debate coach, offers tips to President Obama and Mitt Romney going into the next debate.
Post-debate analysis reaches a new level of absurdity... literally.