This is how I'd like to see it. There is either an incumbent that has his record to run on or defend or two candidates who have been beaten up during their respective primaries. That's the time they should face off. Before the media, their advisers and PACs and Super PACs can get a word in edgewise and the candidates may still bear some semblance of being a human individual rather than the robotic creation of their handlers.
The policies at issue will have been decided. This time it's the economy and due to unexpected circumstances, foreign policy. For the sake of argument, lets stick with the economy and all it entails like taxes, jobs, etc. Each candidate will be there on the strength of their policies, having beaten back other challengers.
Take them one at a time and have each state his or her position, defend it and explain how it will be implemented. Each is allowed to challenge the other's ideas. May the one who has the policy and the ability to put it into practice win.
Hopefully this would happen before they are so over coached they no longer recognize from whence they came. Perhaps they would actually lay out a plan they could campaign on rather than merely demonizing the other candidate and the candidate's party.
When you come right down to it, what is past is past. If it needs fixed explain how you're going to do it. Leave personality, wealth, religion and wives and their gardens and horses out of it.
Of course for this to work the parties would have to agree to support their candidate with more than faint praise. They would have to have nominees for other offices who are on the same wave length.
Oh, I almost forgot. The media. We'd have to have a media that returned to the basics of being objective. This perpetual fan club for Democrats gets tiresome even though its totally predictable. Most of us are too lazy to do the necessary research to sort it out. It isn't easy since the media is known for it's left leaning bias. How do you circumnavigate it?
I don't know. Ask the candidates directly? Seek out one liberal and one conservative to share the duties of moderating a debate without weighting it one way or the other.
What? Wake up? Was I dreaming? The first debate is Wednesday? How anticlimactic! We've already been told ad nauseam what Romney has to do to win and what Obama has to do to win. We can pretty much guess what the spin will be afterwards from both sides.
Oh well. What will be will be. Yawn. What's sad is we won't get to see either man say, "I am what I am." There are just too many fingers in the pie.