By Yu Runze, Sina English
U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Tuesday night kicked off their second presidential debate.
The town-hall-meeting-style face-off, with high stakes for both candidates, took place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, featuring questions from an audience composed of 82 uncommitted voters selected by Gallup.
The first question was from a 20-year-old college student who asked if he can support himself after graduation. Both Romney and Obama touted their plans to put Americans back to work.
Romney came into the debate with clear momentum behind his back and rising polling numbers, following his commanding performance in the first debate in Denver on Oct. 3.
Commentators say Obama needs to do well in the second debate in order to stop Romney's surge, or the incumbent could see the election slip away.
Obama extends slim lead over Romney in White House race
U.S. President Barack Obama gained ground on Republican rival Mitt Romney for the third straight day, leading 46 percent to 43 percent, according to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released on Tuesday.
Released hours before the presidential contenders face off for their second debate, the poll showed the number of undecided voters had increased, indicating a drop of support for Romney among the coveted voting bloc.
The poll showed that Obama has recovered some ground after a poor showing in his first presidential debate. After dropping below Romney in the wake of the October 3 debate, Obama regained the lead on Sunday and has increased that by 1 percentage point each day this week.
"I think what we're seeing is after the first debate Romney definitely saw a surge. A lot of his surge wasn't coming from Obama voters, it was coming from undecided voters, which is exactly where both candidates are seeking support," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said.
"Now, we've actually seen the Romney bump decrease again a little bit," Clark said.
She said the number of people who have changed their minds and moved back to the undecided column took 2 percentage points off Romney's support and one point from Obama.
Undecided voters now account for about 13 percent of likely voters, compared to 10 percent on Monday.