Finally, the fall season offers the matchup sure to attract the biggest audience of the campaign: President Barack Obama goes one-on-one with Republican rival Mitt Romney in three prime-time debates.
Typically the top political draw in the final sprint to Election Day, the debates assume outsized importance this year with the race a dead heat.
The two polished candidates will have their sound bites and rhetoric down cold so any slip or inadvertent move, like President George H.W. Bush's exasperated glance at his watch or Democrat Al Gore's repeated sighing, could roil the campaign for days and linger in voters' mind until Nov. 6.
The first debate is set for Oct. 3 in Denver. The other two will take place later in the month.