The University of Denver will kick off debate season on Wednesday, October 3rd, when President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney square off in Colorado's capital city. The debate will be the first of three between the two contenders for the nation's highest office -- and four debates altogether, including one featuring the vice-presidential candidates, Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan.

Huffington Post Executive Education Editor Lance Gould spoke with University of Denver associate professor of Political Science Seth Masket about the showdown, which will be moderated by Jim Lehrer.

"Since the first debate is really going to be the one that kind of defines the tone for future debates," says Masket, "and the fact that it will have the largest audience, most likely, that's the one in which Romney will probably want to come out swinging -- he'll probably want to make the biggest impact. If he's seen as passive and not really controlling in the first one, it will be much less likely that he's going to do that in subsequent ones."

Masket adds that one candidate cannot claim home field advantage, though "Obama has really made efforts to reach out to the state and put a lot of Coloradans in his administration."

All four debates are sponsored by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.