Romney looks to repeat; Obama seeks reset; Sunlight Live lets you vent


Political pundits have had their say: The Oct. 3 debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama was a blockbuster for the Republican nominee and a debacle for the president.

Now, as the two hopefuls prepare to meet again Tuesday night for the second of their three debates, you can have your say: Sunlight Live will be up and running again to provide context and a platform for commentary — both ours and yours — throughout the debate. A sneak preview of the kinds of things we’ll be pointing out: Both candidates are backed with big bucks and speak for unseen special interests.

We’ve got the data to back it up: So far in this election cycle, Obama has raised more than $437 million for his campaign. Yes, a lot of that’s from small donors, but what about the $222 million raised by the Democratic party? Or the $35 million raised by Priorities Action USA or other independent groups backing the president?

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney has raised $276 million himself, and then there’s the $294 million raised by the Republican National Committee and the $95 million from Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Romney.

And none of that includes the money raised in September, which hasn’t been officially reported to the FEC yet, but which the Romney camp says was $170 million and Obama pegged at $181 million.

So where’s this $1.3 billion in money coming from? In terms of the super PACs, the biggest donors include Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who had donated $30 million to support Republican candidates, including $10 million to Restore Our Future. Read what we’ve written about Adelson’s machinations and motivations in funding groups vying to replace Obama.

Speaking of the president, he has his own underwriters, including the former president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Steve Mostyn. A personal injury lawyer from Houston, Mostyn worked to defeat Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 reelection bid. And check out our profile of one of Priorities USA’s chief underwriters, movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Despite the influence of high-rolling backers, Tuesday’s debate will feature undecided Americans, chosen by the Gallup Organization, questioning the candidates in a town hall. Moderating the event: CNN anchor and chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, who has promised to ask her own follow-up questions, much to the displeasure of the campaigns.

Regardless of who asks the questions, Romney and Obama will have to answer them, and we’ll be at the ready to provide context to their answers. Using our award-winning platform, which combines streaming video, live chat, contextual data and real-time analysis, we’ll be working to help you understand what’s being said, left unsaid, and expressed between the lines.

The debate begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, but we’ll get things started during the 8 o’clock hour, so join us at Sunlight Live.