Most eyes will be on Republican challenger Mitt Romney during tonight’s first presidential debate, Lowcountry politicos said.

Waring Howe, a Charleston lawyer and former Democratic National Committee member, said he will watch to see how Romney handles his burden to prove that he is a viable alternative to President Barack Obama.

“Sometimes (how people vote) is not based on a study or a compilation of data or numbers, it’s just, ‘How do I feel toward this person?’?” Howe said. “That has been a reason for the success of Obama. People like him, people trust him. They feel he’s square and honest.”

Chris Drummond, a GOP consultant and former top aide to Gov. Mark Sanford, said he would like to see Romney avoid Libya and return to his focus on pocketbook issues.

“He has to convince Republican and independent voters that his plan of moving forward, if elected, is going to result in a better economy and more jobs,” Drummond said.

“Obama’s difficulty is going to be that he really can’t run on his record because of a lack of job creation.”

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.