Barack Obama va devoir s'avérer aussi "solide, passionné et énergique" que le promet son équipe pour reprendre l'avantage sur son adversaire Mitt Romney lors de leur débat mardi soir, après une première prestation ratée qui lui a coûté son avance dans les sondages.

A trois semaines jour pour jour de la présidentielle du 6 novembre, le républicain devra de son côté contenir l'offensive que lui annonce le camp démocrate, tout en convainquant des dizaines de millions d'Américains qu'il est mieux qualifié que le président sortant pour les diriger pendant les quatre prochaines années.

M. Obama, après s'être isolé pendant trois jours avec ses conseillers dans un complexe hôtelier en Virginie (est), est arrivé en début d'après-midi à l'université Hofstra à Hempstead, à 40 kilomètres à l'est de New York, pour un tour de reconnaissance du lieu du débat, le "Mack Center".

Lui et M. Romney, parvenu sur place quelques heures plus tôt après deux jours de préparation dans sa résidence du Massachusetts (nord-est), doivent se retrouver à 21H00 (01H00 GMT mercredi) pendant 90 minutes, dans un format différent de celui du 3 octobre à Denver: les questions émaneront des membres du public, composé de 80 électeurs indécis.

Les collaborateurs de Barack Obama ont juré que ce dernier s'emploierait à faire oublier le président sans ressort dominé il y a deux semaines.

"Je pense que vous verrez une prestation exceptionnellement solide ce soir de la part du président", a assuré mardi Robert Gibbs, consultant pour la campagne démocrate, promettant que Barack Obama serait "passionné et énergique".

Côté républicain, Ryan Williams, porte-parole de la campagne, a déclaré à l'AFP s'attendre à "un président plus agressif".

Politique étrangère et questions intérieures seront abordées à Hofstra. M. Romney devrait attaquer encore le président sur la Libye, après l'attentat du 11 septembre contre le consulat de Benghazi, dans lequel a péri notamment l'ambassadeur.

Dès lundi soir, la secrétaire d'Etat Hillary Clinton a dédouané Barack Obama, affirmant qu'elle "assumait la responsabilité" des conséquences de cette attaque, qui a provoqué une tempête politique aux Etats-Unis.

Son époux, l'ancien président démocrate Bill Clinton, est lui aussi venu à l'aide de M. Obama mardi matin.

Dans une vidéo pédagogique, il affirme que le projet de budget de M. Romney, sa mesure vedette, se traduira par une baisse des impôts des 1% des Américains les plus riches, et une hausse de la pression fiscale sur la classe moyenne. Il y exhorte les Américains à préférer "l'arithmétique aux illusions".

De son côté, M. Romney a reçu le soutien du milliardaire Ross Perot, le troisième homme de la présidentielle de 1992, qui avait obtenu 19% des voix, et de l'avis des républicains, avait favorisé la victoire de M. Clinton sur le sortant George Bush senior.

Depuis le débat de Denver, M. Obama, qui dominait dans les sondages depuis début septembre, a subi un décrochage dans les intentions de vote. La livraison quotidienne de l'enquête Gallup sur sept jours mardi en milieu de journée accordait quatre points d'avance à M. Romney au sein des électeurs les plus susceptibles de se déplacer. Du coup, la moyenne des sondages nationaux réalisée par le site RealClearPolitics penchait légèrement en faveur du républicain.

Si M. Obama jouit encore d'une avance dans des Etats-clés dont M. Romney a besoin pour s'imposer, un nouveau revers pour le président mardi soir pourrait s'avérer difficile à surmonter. Un dernier débat est prévu en Floride (sud-est) lundi prochain.

La Cour suprême a accordé mardi une victoire au camp de M. Obama en validant un élargissement du vote anticipé dans l'Etat crucial de l'Ohio (nord), qui pourrait favoriser une participation plus importante en faveur des démocrates.

l'un des facteurs sur lesquels les démocrates comptent pour le remporter.

Après le débat de mardi, animé par la journaliste de CNN Candy Crowley, MM. Obama et Romney repartiront immédiatement en campagne: mercredi, le président est attendu dans l'Iowa (centre) et l'Ohio, deux parmi la dizaine d'Etats pouvant faire basculer l'élection. Le républicain doit de son côté se rendre en Virginie.

Les phrases qui ont fait mouche
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  • Les dépenses

  • Les dépenses

  • Les déficits

  • Les déficits

  • Les impôts

  • Les impôts

  • Les impôts

  • Les impôts

  • La santé

  • La santé

  • L'emploi

  • L'emploi

  • L'anniversaire de sa femme

  • L'anniversaire de Michelle Obama

  • Les piques

Le débat en images
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  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    This combination of images show US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney embracing their spouses after the first presidential debate at the university of Denver on October 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama listens during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney make their way to their lecterns October 3, 2012 after shaking hands for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney October 3, 2012 as he arrives on stage for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama arrives on stage October 3, 2012 for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wave October 3, 2012 after shaking hands as he arrives on stage for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney make their way to their lecterns October 3, 2012 after shaking hands for the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US First Lady Michelle Obama (2nd-L) listens as US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) participate in the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012, moderated by Jim Lehrer (C) of the PBS NewsHour. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) kisses First Lady Michelle Obama in Denver, Colorado, on October 3, 2012 at the end of the first presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shake hands October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney share a laugh October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walk towards their wifes October 3, 2012 at the conclusion of the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (top) speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (bottom) at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (2n-L) and First Lady Michelle Obama (L) join Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (2nd-R) and his family at the conclusion of the first presidential debate on October 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to moderator Jim Lehrer during his debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L), who greets the audience at the conclusion in Denver, Colorado, on October 3, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (R)/SAUL LOEB (L) (Photo credit should read STF/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stands with his wife Ann and family following the first presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stands with his wife Ann following the first presidential debate with US President Barack Obama at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama gestures on stage following his debate with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) arrive for the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney shake hands following their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney (L) participate in their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) walk on stage before Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)

  • US-VOTE-2012-DEBATE

    US President Barack Obama (R) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney (L) participate in their first debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney went head-to-head in their debut debate. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages)