How candidates are preparing for debates
September 17th, 2012
02:16 PM ET
2 years ago

How candidates are preparing for debates

(CNN) – The conventions are over, the running mate is in place, and the campaigns are looking ahead to the three presidential debates as the last chance to make the case to voters for the two men vying for the White House.

Fittingly, Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are busy preparing for the big events, the first of which takes place October 3 in Denver.

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Each campaign has lined up stand-ins for their rivals to help the candidates prepare. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts will play Romney in Obama's prep sessions, while his colleague, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, will portray Obama.

On Air Force One Monday, Obama campaign press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Romney was preparing more for the debates "than any candidate in modern history," saying the long schedule of debates during this year's GOP primary contests made for a stark comparison to the fact that Obama hasn't participated in a debate since 2008.

"They've made clear that his performing well is a make-or-break piece for their campaign," Psaki said of the Romney team's efforts.

She also alluded to one piece of Obama's debate preparation confirmed over the weekend by David Axelrod, a campaign senior adviser.

"He's got to speak shorter, that's all," Axelrod told Reuters. "He just hasn't had to do that for the last four years so that's a part of the discipline of preparing for these debates."

Psaki acknowledged Monday the "shorter debate format is not always conducive to someone who gives more substantive answers, which we know he tends to do."

Last week Romney spelled out his own method of debate prep, telling ABC News he was worried Obama wouldn't tell the truth during the events.

"I think the challenge that I'll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren't true," Romney said in an interview that aired Friday.

Romney, who spent several days in debate prep at the beginning of the month as the Democratic National Convention was underway, said he's been studying Obama's performance at previous debates. The Republican presidential nominee added he's still trying to outline his strategy.

"Am I going to spend my time correcting things that aren't quite accurate? Or am I going to spend my time talking about the things I want to talk about?'" he said. "That's a judgment you make."

After the first debate in Denver, subsequent face-offs will take place October 16 in Hempstead, New York and October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida. CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, anchor of "State of the Union," will moderate the October 16 debate.

Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee, face off on October 11 in Danville, Kentucky.

In a CNN/ORC survey released last week, most voters said they thought Obama would have an advantage in the three debates. Fifty-nine percent of likely voters questioned in the survey said the president is more likely to do a better job than Romney in the debates, with 34% saying that Romney will beat Obama.

CNN's Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Presidential Debates
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Debra from Atlanta

    Romney, you better get ready for a beat down. BTW, where are your tax return?

    September 17, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    Last week Romney spelled out his own method of debate prep, telling ABC News he was worried Obama wouldn't tell the truth during the events.
    ----------------------–
    Romney's remark was a patronizeing attempt make a "pre-buttal" of Pres. Obama's responses at the debate. To plant the seeds of doubts into everything the President might say. Please note, that Mitt Romney made no promise to not tell any lies of his own. In fact, the remark sounds like he's rationalizing why he himelf will have to lie at the debate.

    September 17, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    If Romney says he's a leader, it starts with his campaign staff and right now it's in a hot mess because his staff are misleading him and he's following.

    September 17, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. Yonni

    I think Mitt need sometime before he debate the President. He didn't finished debating himself yet. Mitt was just reported he is being re-tooling

    September 17, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    why flirt with 2016, because if obama is reelected there will be no more America, Land of the FREE or land of the BRAVE. There will be no more American Dream, all in all, if obama wins reelection American will be reduced to a 3rd world country ran by dictators who will take all you have and there will be revolution in every corner of this country, time will tell but the worst is coming if obama is reelected.

    September 17, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. ST

    This time debates will not matter much as some voters will start voting before even the first debate is in place.

    September 17, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. truth hurts

    Psaki acknowledged Monday the "shorter debate format is not always conducive to someone who gives more substantive answers, which we know he tends to do."
    =============================================================================================
    This is hilarious. Obama has been spewing the same pathetic rhetoric for four years now. The American people should be able to recite his meaningless drivel right along with him. You'd think he would have developed a Drivel Light version by now.

    September 17, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. blue19

    Romney message could be as simple as "Bush 2.0". Based on what little details Romney/Ryan are willing to share (which isn't much), they want to turn back the clock to the failed policies of the Bush years..tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation and pandering to corporate America. Don't worry folks, Romney will continue the legacy of George W. Bush.

    September 17, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. myviewis

    Obama's statements are always misleading then you go to FactCheck and wow there's a story that wasn't told by Obama or his administration and then you realize they put a spin on the facts. Obama created 1,100 jobs from an increased tariffs on Chinese Tire Imports but they fail to mention the tires coming in from Mexico, Indonesia. Obama's regulations have been more costly than those of Bush and Clinton. Just like when he said he was born to single mother but his mother and father were married till 1964 when they divorced and his mother remarried in 1965.

    Obama claimed to have an insight to Muslims because he was raised around them when in reality he was a kid going to a private school in Hawaii, raised by a White grandmother and never saw blacks because there were no blacks in Hawaii nor Muslims. Turns out he only lived in Indonesia maybe 3 years and used to visit periodically. So Obama was not Muslim nor did he have an insight to Muslims. American kid all the way. Always misleading statements. Just like the plant in Wisconsin, Obama didn't say he would keep it from closing, he said IF the government were involved.

    Always playing with words, never straight facts. Now Obama claims he may not be able to lower college tuitions if he is re-elected.

    September 17, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. rs

    It is going to be tough for Mr. Obama to debate Mr. Romney inasmuch as Romney refuses to tell the truth about anything, or provide any sort of factual basis to his vague policy statements. He seems rather delusional. All he puts out is fear, division and allusion to Obama's "foreigness". It will be a "battle of wits" with an unarmed opponent.
    At least Mr. Biden will reliably call BS on Mr. Ryan.

    September 17, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. PJ

    I am depending on the moderators to hold all of the candidate's feet to the fire if they try to give evasive and non-
    specific answers.
    This is our only chance to hear, without interruption from the crowds, what their ideas are and how they
    will be implemented.
    I am particularly concerned about Romney. Will he use the same language he used during the primaries, or will
    he change his words, and will he waste time bashing the President or will he tell us his plans? And if Ryan doesn't stop speaking so fast, we will never know what he means.
    I call people like him "machine gun mouths". They just ratatat hoping you won't catch them screwing up.
    Thank goodness, every word will be taped.

    September 17, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    Obama making sure he has his facts correct.

    Mtt practicing his lies.

    ha ha ha ha ha hahaha ha

    Too late Mtt. early voting Starting Oct 2 in some states, oct 8 in other states. NO MORE RYAN/ROMNEY LIES.

    September 17, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    truth hurts – wrote:

    This is hilarious. Obama has been spewing the same pathetic rhetoric for four years now......
    ------------------------–
    Romney has been spewing the same rhetoric for nearly seven years now. Meanwhile, Barack Obama was elected POTUS.

    September 17, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. The REAL Truth...

    @myviewis – So Obama was not Muslim nor did he have an insight to Muslims. American kid all the way.
    --------------------------------
    Now, if only you can convince some of your other right wing buddies of this, then perhaps we could have reasonable discussion on the subject, as opposed to the hate filled posts I mostly read here. No-one is perfect, and picking sound bites from Willard's statement is no more productive than doing the same for Obama. Given the hate campaign that Romney has waged since day one (even during the nominations process against his "own") it's no surprise that he needs to "re-tool" and rethink his strategy. The hate approach is starting to wear very thin on the American people, and to publicly state that he believes the POTUS will be lying during the upcoming debates is appalling and should INSTANTLY dis-bar him such an event.

    September 17, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    GOP is gone to dogs. This election is rich v/s middle class America.

    September 17, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. Name HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    I'm sure the President is well prepared. Willard is going to throw the first blow. He's going to try and attack the President like he did in the primaries against those losers he was up against. I don't think it'll work on the President though. Willard has a number of issues working against him. The main was is his multiple positions on ALL the issues. He says one thing to his base then turns around and says the complete opposite to the general public. Not to mention that he still hasn't released more years of his tax returns. You can make a $10,000 bet that the President is going to hit him on that and why Willard won't give us any details about which deductions and loopholes he'll close in his tax plan.

    September 17, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Marc in Toronto - Romney would make a great Mercedes sales person

    Mitt has to be the most insecure and insincere candidate to run for President in my 60 years on earth. He's full of ambition and looks and sounds just like the guy that sold my sister her Mercedes. I'm sure he's busy practising how not to get caught in all of his lies. An impossible task. He will try to minimize the damage by staying on offense.

    September 17, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. Canuck

    @obama is Out Of Touch with reality
    " if obama is reelected there will be no more America, Land of the FREE or land of the BRAVE."

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Good grief , get a grip Buddy...

    September 17, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. kayla

    president obama will take mitt to school. during the primaries, mitt did not answer any questions, all he did was talk around the questions and talk about something else instead of answering the questions. what an idiot.

    September 17, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  20. PJ

    "So Obama was not Muslim nor did he have an insight into Muslims. American kid all the way".
    ******
    Finally, some "truthiness" from the far right. Wow!!

    September 17, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    myviewis – declares that Obama is an American, through and through

    ....Obama claimed to have an insight to Muslims because he was raised around them when in reality he was a kid going to a private school in Hawaii, raised by a White grandmother and never saw blacks because there were no blacks in Hawaii nor Muslims. Turns out he only lived in Indonesia maybe 3 years and used to visit periodically. So Obama was not Muslim nor did he have an insight to Muslims. American kid all the way. Always misleading statements......
    ------------------------------
    It takes talent to mislead one's self off of a rhetorical cliff. This is what happens when you make stuff up as you go along and cannot remember what it is that you said from one moment to the next.

    September 17, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. myviewis

    The REAL Truth...

    @myviewis – So Obama was not Muslim nor did he have an insight to Muslims. American kid all the way.
    ----------–
    Now, if only you can convince some of your other right wing buddies of this
    -----------------------–

    I just heard a Democrat claim that Obama has more foreign policy experience than Romney because Obama had an insight to Muslims as a child growing up around Muslims.

    So you tell me how we got it wrong that Obama was Muslim and had an insight to them when Democrats claims the opposite???????? It is Democrats that convinced the voters of Obama's connection to Muslim.

    September 17, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Jan

    As Romney continues to PARAPHRASE GENERALITIES, in said "RETOOLING TO SPECIFICS" we see he has NO REAL INTENSIONS OF EVER LETTING US KNOW WHAT HIS PLANS ARE. His plan for the debates is simply to fill time by cutting President Obama off. He has no intension of letting President Obama speak...just wait...you'll see! MY HOPE AND PRAYER IS THAT MODERATORS ARE SMART ENOUGH TO DESIGN THE QUESTIONS IN A WAY THAT LEAVES NO ROOM FOR THAT!!! IT CAN BE DONE!!!

    September 17, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    myviewis – wrote:

    I just heard a Democrat claim that Obama has more foreign policy experience than Romney because Obama had an insight to Muslims as a child growing up around Muslims.

    So you tell me how we got it wrong that Obama was Muslim and had an insight to them when Democrats claims the opposite???????? It is Democrats that convinced the voters of Obama's connection to Muslim.
    --------------------–
    First of all, your "we" didn't get it wrong. Only "YOU" did that all by yourself. You can try to walk it back, but it's too late for that. I told you last week that you've worn out that avatar name, and you need to change it. Now that you've come out of the closet and exposed yourself as an undercover liberal, you're gonna have to switch up again. You neo-con wannabe.

    September 17, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. truth hurts

    Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee, face off on October 11 in Danville, Kentucky.
    ==========================================================================================
    Paul Ryan needs to be very careful here so he's not be seen as a virile young guy with ideas and facts beating the daylights out of an old bambling senile geezer. I wonder if the Obama campaign will call in professional Hollywood makeup artists to make Biden up to look younger? Maybe use some Grecian Formula and about 10 lbs.of makeup?

    September 17, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
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