President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take the stage Wednesday night for their first debate. Here are five things to know.

1. When is the first debate?

The first debate will take place Wednesday from 9-10:30 p.m. EDT. The debate will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other cable channels, as well as online.

2. What are they debating?

Wednesday’s debate will be on the topic of domestic policy, and the economy is expected to dominate the discussions. There will be six segments of about 15 minutes each, and in each segment, moderator Jim Lehrer will open with a prearranged question. Obama and Romney have two minutes to respond, and Lehrer will direct the remainder of the discussion from there.

3. What can we expect from Obama and Romney?

CNN reported Monday that Romney has been “working on zingers” and “attack lines,” while Obama plans to speak “directly to the American people.” Obama has been known to engage his opponent, though, so if Romney is landing some punches, expect Obama to respond in kind. More than a few pundits and politicians believe Romney is the more experienced debater and will come out on top.

4. Who stands to gain/lose the most?

That depends what poll you are looking at. But generally speaking, Obama has the lead in polls (albeit a very slim lead, according to a CNN poll released this week) and needs to do well to retain his lead. If he sweats like Richard Nixon infamously did, he’s in trouble. A big debate would be huge for Romney and might even put him ahead in the polls.

5. Are there more debates?

There will be two other presidential debates. On Oct. 16, Obama and Romney will square off for a town hall meeting-style debate on the topics of domestic and foreign policy (moderated by Candy Crowley), and on Oct. 22, the candidates will debate foreign policy (moderated by Bob Schieffer). The vice presidential nominees – Joe Biden and Paul Ryan – also will have a debate. That will take place on Oct. 11.

GateHouse News Service