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Before the debate, iReporters square off

By Henry Hanks, CNN
updated 10:00 AM EDT, Wed October 3, 2012
  • Two iReporters who attended political conventions debated on Google Plus
  • Omekonga Dibinga, for Obama, said the president and Americans agree on many issues
  • Alex Anderson, for Romney, said the GOP nominee has shown he can get things done

(CNN) -- Call it the debate before the debates.

In this corner: Alex Anderson, a college student in Hillsdale, Michigan, pulling for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In that corner: Omekongo Dibinga, a longtime iReporter from Washington and a supporter of President Barack Obama.

Both had a chance to see their candidates' political conventions, as winners of the Your Political Ticket iReport contest. With that experience behind them, we asked them to go head to head on Google+ previewing Wednesday's first presidential debate.

They are two of hundreds of iReporters who have added their views to the iReport debate, an eight-month project that invites voters to make their voices heard this election season.

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We came away with three main points from the conversation, some of which you can see in the video above.

1. How important is a 'personal connection?'

"The biggest plus [Obama] has over Romney are the social issues," said Dibinga.

"When you look at issues such as immigration and his educational stances, it seems to me that President Obama is in line with the majority of Americans."

Anderson said that the president may be able to connect personally with Americans on certain issues and in speeches, but rhetoric and action are two different things. "Through his time at Bain Capital, with the Olympics and his time as governor [of Massachusetts, Romney] had results from his actions.

Candidates 'tics,' actions matter in debates

2. Weighing the past versus the future

Anderson echoed Romney's contention that Obama has not left Americans better off than four years ago.

He said that Romney has laid out incentives as to what would happen under his presidency, and portrayed Obama as saying that Americans should "ignore" the past four years.

Dibinga said that Obama can't tout unemployment in this country as long as it's over 8%, but at the same time, Romney cannot point to his record as governor.

"Some things [he did] such as health care are similar to President Obama. Romney will increase our issues as to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer; setting women's rights back; and setting education back."

3. Debate the big picture

Anderson hoped the debates will help paint a better picture of each candidate's plan for America.

He also hoped that "small things" like "tax returns and birth certificates" would not dominate the debates.

On this point, Dibinga agreed.

"No cheap shots. Romney and Obama have very different views on where the country should go. The issues are strong enough for Americans to decide for themselves."

Watch the video and let us know who won the debate by commenting below, and share your question for the candidates here, and check out the top questions other iReporters want answered.

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