When the talking stops the spin begins

When the talking stops tonight in the debate hall in Denver, the chatter starts amongst the spinners on both sides of the political divide.

As the candidates leave the stage many of the 3,000 journalists here will head to the area known as "spin alley" where the spokespeople for President Obama and Mitt Romney will put their spin on their man.

Top Obama advisers David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Jim Messina, Stephanie Cutter and Jen Psaki will all be there and Romney will have a similar line up of senior officials. Though some see the spin room as less important than it used to be, the significance of getting your message straight has been crucial in the past.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will meet in the first of three debates tonight
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will meet in the first of three debates tonight Credit: PA Wire

Tad Devine, who worked for Al Gore during the 2000 campaign, believes George W. Bush's team took control of the post-debate story by emphasizing Al Gore's sighs during the debate.

“They beat us after the debate in the spin room,” Devine told The New York Times this week. “Their spin was, 'He lied and he sighed,' and that took hold."

The major difference from four years ago is the use of social networks. Both Democrat and Republican top brass will be tweeting furiously during the 90 minutes of the debate, so by the time the stage empties, we'll be left in little doubt as to what they feel about their positions.

The Obama campaign has released a web video that it says will explain "in detail what Mitt Romney is really saying in case he does spend those ninety minutes avoiding the facts and sticking instead to the same hollow plans he's shown us before."