HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates are set to turn on the charm as they square off in a pair of televised debates this week — and one political observer believes the events will be closely watched by undecided voters.

Gary Rose, a political professor at Sacred Heart University, said people tuning in to the debates will be watching for ways to connect with each of the candidates.

Rose said Republican Tom Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, first needs to spell out his agenda.

“And he also has to show himself to be somewhat of a person of empathy — which I believe has been his major drawback thus far, is that people don’t feel he’s very empathizing with people who are in dire straits right now,” Rose told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

Rose said Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has to show a warmer, more human side.

“Like Foley, he also has a personality problem with the voters,” Rose said. “People see him as somewhat authoritarian. They see him as slightly condescending at times.”

The debates will be must-see viewing for the 15 to 20 percent of Connecticut voters who are still undecided, Rose said.

The first debate will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford. At 7 p.m. Thursday, Malloy and Foley will face off again at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

The election marks a rematch between the candidates. Malloy defeated Foley by 6,404 votes of 1.1 million cast in 2010.

A Quinnipiac University Poll earlier this month showed Foley leading the incumbent governor by six percentage points.

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