HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) -- President Barack Obama has one mission heading into his first debate with Republican Mitt Romney: Don't screw things up.
Less than five weeks from Election Day, Obama has political momentum and an edge in polls of the battleground states that will determine the election. But he's expected to face a blistering challenge from Romney, who needs to use Wednesday's debate in Denver to change the trajectory of the race.
The president retreated to a desert resort in Nevada for three days of intensive debate preparation for Wednesday night. He's joined by a cadre of top advisers, who are focused on helping Obama trim his often-lengthy explanations to fit the debate format.
Equally important is coaching Obama to look calm and presidential during an onslaught of criticism from Romney.