The two presidential candidates prepared for the Hofstra University debate Tuesday at dueling Long Island Marriott hotels. They did find common ground on one point even before squaring off: Potatoes were on both of their menus.
At the Melville Marriott, steak and potatoes were on the menu for President Barack Obama and the first lady.
Obama, who landed at Kennedy Airport just before 1 p.m., was taken by helicopter to Mitchel Field in Hempstead and went to Hofstra University for a quick walk-through of the debate site, the David S. Mack Student Center.
Obama spent most of his pre-debate hours at the Melville Marriott, which shut down the westbound service road of the Long Island Expressway until about midnight.
At 2:30 p.m., on the heels of the motorcade's arrival in Melville, Obama's debate coach, Sen. John Kerry, walked past White House reporters at the Marriott. When a reporter asked how the president would fare, Kerry did not answer, but flashed a half-smile and gave them a thumbs-up.
Secret Service and Suffolk police detectives were stationed in the lobby of the hotel, which featured metal detectors for the day.