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Presidential Debate Stand-Ins Prepare For Their Moment In Spotlight

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Lynn University in Boca Raton hosts the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2012. (Source: CBS4)

Lynn University in Boca Raton hosts the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2012. (Source: CBS4)

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Lynn University Presidential Debate

BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) — The third and final presidential debate is just two days away and that means the campus of Lynn University in Boca Raton is buzzing with activity.

Unlike the first two debates, the candidates will be sitting at a table. President Barack Obama will be seated on the right and Mitt Romney will be on the left.

But before the presidential candidates take the stage Monday evening, their student stand-ins will get some time in the spotlight.

“It’s an honor,” said junior Eric Gooden. “I still can’t believe it to this day that I was chosen. It feels like a dream.”

Eric Gooden, A.J. Mercincavage and Andrew Lippi are Lynn University Students turned debate doppelgangers.

For Gooden, it’s not the first time he’s been compared to President Barack Obama.

“Like I’ll be walking around campus and people will just come up to me and say, ‘Hi Mr. President’,” Gooden joked to CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana while inside the Media Filing Center Saturday afternoon.

He was considered for the stand-in job after the Vice President of Student Affairs submitted his headshot to the university President.

Multimedia journalism student A.J. Mercincavage was selected to stand-in for Mitt Romney in Sunday’s rehearsal. He said Saturday he is still perfecting his Romney look.

“I might need a little bit of touch of gray on the corners here,” Mercincavage said while touching his sideburns. “I never really thought I looked like him but it’s a great opportunity and I’m not going to say no to being a Mitt Romney stand-in.”

American Studies major Andrew Lippi will be playing the part of moderator, veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer.

“All the time, all the time I get told I look like Bob Schieffer,” Lippi said through laughter. “I’m proud of it, too!” He’s far from a dead ringer, but still excited about being chosen.

It will take the stand-ins about three hours to do their part on Sunday morning.

They’ll be used to test audio levels, lighting and camera angles.

“They will be actually debating and talking because we really need to make sure that when debate night comes and we go live that we’ve seen essentially that kind of extended discussion before,” said Peter Eyre, the Senior Advisor for the Commission on Presidential Debates. “They really do play a very important part of this preparation process”

While they may have been chosen for their likeness to the candidates, the stand-ins are excited for the chance to be both seen and heard.

“Basically we’re going to talk about issues that college students or going through. Just constant debate and dialogue,” Gooden explained.

Lippi said he’d done his homework.

“I chose ten topics really relative to the debate on foreign policy,” Lippi said. “We went over it the three of us and we’re going to discuss it tomorrow.”

Mercincavage said he’s not sure what the producers want, but he’s ready for anything.

“I’ve heard stand-ins for previous debates talked about baseball. One of them read a newspaper,” Mercincavage said. “It’s really just testing the mics but it will be fun to act as the real candidates for a few hours.”

The stand-ins are not guaranteed a spot in the debate hall on Monday night.

They’ll have to wait to see if their names are drawn in the student lottery tomorrow afternoon.

More than 800 students signed up, but only about 50 will be granted admission.

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