President Barack Obama makes phone calls to volunteers at an...

President Barack Obama makes phone calls to volunteers at an Organizing for America field office with Alexa Kissinger, left, in Williamsburg, Va. (Oct. 14, 2012) Credit: AP

WASHINGTON -- Tuesday's presidential debate at Hofstra University could be the only major campaign event in New York for both President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney before the Nov. 6 election.

Since the end of the party conventions in September, Obama and Romney have campaigned publicly with dozens of rallies and speeches at small towns and large in key battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Colorado.

But they've only made a handful of trips to New York -- usually to tape television shows in Manhattan or to raise money at private events, not to campaign in public. And they're not even airing campaign ads in New York. That's because both sides have ceded New York and its 29 electoral votes to Obama because of the state's large Democratic voter base.

"We hadn't realized it was a presidential campaign in New York," joked Jay Jacobs, Nassau County Democratic chairman.

Added Hofstra presidential scholar Meena Bose: "I just saw an ad on TV. I was shocked." It turned out it was on a national cable station, she said.

"New York is not a competitive state in the Electoral College," Bose explained.

The campaigns are sending their candidates and running mates mostly to the eight to 10 states still up for grabs, whose electoral votes likely will determine the outcome of the election.

So the town-hall style debate Tuesday on a public stage at Hofstra's Mack Sports Complex will have to do as a major presidential campaign event for New Yorkers.

Indeed, the Romney campaign built in some campaigning around the debate, planning to send running mate Paul Ryan to Manhattan Monday.

Also on Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama will attend a lunch fundraiser at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale.

Not many New Yorkers will get into the hall for Obama and Romney's second face-to-face encounter. The Gallup Organization will pick the voters who will ask questions, randomly selecting about 80 undecided voters from Nassau County. The political parties, Hofstra and the debate sponsors will select a small viewing audience.

Still, many New Yorkers are excited to host the debate.

"I think this debate will engender quite a bit of excitement, especially downstate," said Tony Casale, an aide to New York State GOP chairman Ed Cox.

Having a crucial presidential debate on Long Island stokes "local pride," Jacobs said.

"In fairness, there is a lot of interest to begin with," he said. "But we're excited on Long Island, and throughout the state, about having the debate at Hofstra."

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