1. ITV Report

Pressure is on as presidential debate takes centre stage

President Obama holds a narrow leads in the polls Photo: PA

It's the eve of the first moment in this campaign when all the political focus will be on the same stage. The presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama overshadows everything today, as both candidates lock themselves away preparing for the most watched event so far of the political year.

A minute lost not selling your message is a minute lost trying to harness votes, so the invisible candidates are an illustration of the importance placed on the sparring to come on Wednesday.

President Obama is staying at a golf resort in Nevada, a short tee shot from Las Vegas, where he’ll be locked in preparations all day, with perhaps a brief appearance for the cameras at some point.

The “Silver State” is in play in November, and it’s not like the President to miss a chance to try and eek out some more votes.

Mitt Romney's already in Denver and held a final pre-debate rally last night. His message for the closing weeks is simple: "we can't afford another four years like the last four years".

That's not to say there won't be people talking on behalf of the party leaders on Tuesday. Vice President Biden has a series of rallies in North Carolina, which is on a knife edge, having fallen to Obama by just 14,000 votes four years ago.

Meanwhile Paul Ryan, who wants Biden’s job, is out on the stump in Iowa, one of a number of states where voting has already begun.

First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Ohio, where she will speak to grassroots supporters in Cincinnati on the first day of early voting in the state. About 30 per cent of Ohio's total vote — that's about 1.7 million ballots — came in ahead of Election Day in 2008.

Ann Romney is with her husband in Colorado and will speak in front of local Republicans this afternoon.

The most recent polling suggests that the president is still ahead, but gives some hope to the challenger.

Mitt Romney is preparing for his first presidential debate Credit: PA

The CNN poll out on Monday puts Obama three points clear of Romney, at 50 to 47 per cent. That’s within the margin of error.

The CNN poll of polls is more worrying for Republicans, with the president leading easily in the key states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida.

If the man in the White House takes even two of those, he won’t have to call in the removal men. Politico's latest "battleground" figures give Obama just a two-point lead, as the lead the president gained following Romney's "47 percent" remarks seems to fade.

A nationally conducted poll by Quinnipiac University released on Tuesday put Obama four per cent ahead. Later today, the weekly NBC/Wall Street Journal poll comes out.

Over the last few days, both sides have for the most part been falling over themselves to praise the other candidate, hoping to heap pressure on the other side.

When the candidates take to the stage at 0200 British time on Thursday morning, they’ll be on their own, in front of upwards of 50 million viewers. Now that’s pressure.