President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney step into a more free-wheeling town-hall style debate on Tuesday night, a setting that has given the two coolly intellectual candidates some trouble in the past.
Both will have to recalibrate their approaches from their first encounter on Oct. 3, which was won by Romney.
"I think Obama assumes he will do better in town hall debates because he has an advantage on empathy," said Emory University political science professor Andra Gillespie, adding that Obama is going to have to "show a little more passion and fire in his belly."
Romney could be less aggressive, which earned him points in the first debate, and focus more on trying to narrow the likability gap.
"Because Romney is gaffe-prone he is going to do everything he can to come across as warm and empathetic, Gillespie said.
CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will moderate the second debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. She is first woman to do so in two decades.
The town hall format presents challenges and opportunities for the candidates, Crowley said. Both have held a number of town hall forums during the campaign season --- exchanges that haven't exactly sizzled, political experts say.
That's because Obama tends to become professorial and Romney stiff in such settings.
"The danger of the town hall is that you're getting (questions) from the audience," said Melissa Wade, a debate professor at Emory University. "It's either because they're either not good or they are so rehearsed the responder has a hard time."
Other candidates have struggled in town halls.