First on CNN: Romney memo seeks to lower debate expectations
September 27th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
2 years ago

First on CNN: Romney memo seeks to lower debate expectations

Washington (CNN) – If it wasn't already clear that Mitt Romney and his allies are trying to lower expectations heading into next Wednesday's debate against President Obama in Denver, the campaign is now making it official.

In a memo about the debates distributed to campaign surrogates and provided to CNN on Thursday, longtime Romney adviser Beth Myers outlines a series of reasons why the president is likely to emerge as the winner of the first debate.

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Among them:

– President Obama is "widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history."

– "This will be the eighth one-on-one presidential debate of his political career. For Mitt Romney, it will be his first."

– "Four years ago, Barack Obama faced John McCain on the debate stage. According to Gallup, voters judged him the winner of each debate by double-digit margins, and their polling showed he won one debate by an astounding 33-point margin."

Myers argues that Obama will "use his ample rhetorical gifts and debating experience to one end: attacking Mitt Romney."

"We fully expect a 90-minute attack ad aimed at tearing down his opponent," she writes in the memo.

Pushing back against emerging conventional wisdom, Myers concludes that the debates will not, in fact, decide the election: "It will be decided by the American people," she says.

Read the full memo below:

From: Beth Myers, Senior Adviser
To: Interested Parties
Date: September 27, 2012
Re: 2012 Presidential Debates

In a matter of days, Governor Romney and President Obama will meet on the presidential debate stage. President Obama is a universally-acclaimed public speaker and has substantial debate experience under his belt. However, the record he's compiled over the last four years – higher unemployment, lower incomes, rising energy costs, and a national debt spiraling out of control – means this will be a close election right up to November 6th.

Between now and then, President Obama and Governor Romney will debate three times. While Governor Romney has the issues and the facts on his side, President Obama enters these contests with a significant advantage on a number of fronts.

Voters already believe – by a 25-point margin – that President Obama is likely to do a better job in these debates. Given President Obama's natural gifts and extensive seasoning under the bright lights of the debate stage, this is unsurprising. President Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker, and is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history. This will be the eighth one-on-one presidential debate of his political career. For Mitt Romney, it will be his first.

Four years ago, Barack Obama faced John McCain on the debate stage. According to Gallup, voters judged him the winner of each debate by double-digit margins, and their polling showed he won one debate by an astounding 33-point margin. In the 2008 primary, he faced Hillary Clinton, another formidable opponent – debating her one-on-one numerous times and coming out ahead. The takeaway? Not only has President Obama gained valuable experience in these debates, he also won them comfortably.

But what must President Obama overcome? His record. Based on the campaign he's run so far, it's clear that President Obama will use his ample rhetorical gifts and debating experience to one end: attacking Mitt Romney. Since he won't – and can't – talk about his record, he'll talk about Mitt Romney. We fully expect a 90-minute attack ad aimed at tearing down his opponent. If President Obama is as negative as we expect, he will have missed an opportunity to let the American people know his vision for the next four years and the policies he'd pursue. That's not an opportunity Mitt Romney will pass up. He will talk about the big choice in this election – the choice between President Obama's government-centric vision and Mitt Romney's vision for an opportunity society with more jobs, higher take-home pay, a better-educated workforce, and millions of Americans lifted out of poverty into the middle class.

This election will not be decided by the debates, however. It will be decided by the American people. Regardless of who comes out on top in these debates, they know we can't afford another four years like the last four years. And they will ultimately choose a better future by electing Mitt Romney to be our next president.


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soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    Don't let the Mitt Romney water bucket get too heavy a load to carry, CNN. Mitt Romney will do just fine in the debates. He'll still lose the election, though.

    As for TeamRomney. As inept as THEY are, their candidate is so much worse.

    September 27, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. John

    Rolling over before the debate even begins. Will that be Romney's response when faced with a formidable opponent in the Middle East?

    September 27, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. dakster

    And how many debates has Romney recently been in? If he can't meet the expectations of a debate....how can he win the expectations of being our President???????

    September 27, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. Me IN HOUSTON

    Well that's not good for the Romney campaign

    yes, President Barack Obama is going to be re-elected
    but this will not come to pass unless WE overcome
    Republican attempts of voter suppression
    WE must be aware of these Republican voter suppression laws
    WE have to make sure WE are registered to vote
    WE must make sure WE have proper ID
    WE must know where our polling place is
    WE must help others register to vote, have proper ID and know where their poling place is
    WE MUST VOTE
    If it's close, the Republicans will try and steal it the same way the did with Bush
    WE MUST CONTINUE TO VOTE EVERY 2 YEARS

    September 27, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Dave

    LOL! My expectations of Mitt Romney were pretty low to begin with!

    September 27, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Vote for Seamus, elect Kolob's next dog catcher

    She forgot to include the sentence that he is going to loose the election.

    All as part of the grand republican sacrifice to win 2016.
    It is better he take the bullet for the gipper, than a chicken hawk conservative.

    September 27, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    Well ,I guess president Obama should ask romney the tax cheat son of boss,if he thinks cheating the us government out of tax revenue ,as he advised the Marriott corp to do with the son of boss tax cheat program that was determined to be ileagle by the u.s. government is a policy he used to promote and probably use himself and advise other companies to use , is a presidential quality we should admire , I know rover nitwitquest would like it ,the gop pledge maker would admire , but the rest of us Americans. Don't !!!!!!

    September 27, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. 200 TON HAMMER

    wow next week is gut check mitt romney debates,wow slowly but surely he is gonna be exposed for flip flopping on the very poor and flip flopping on all middleclass familes,flip flopping on letting detroit go bankrupt yeah mittens you said it one minute your pro choice,the next minute your pro life???????? How can you be President when you want share your plans with 300,000,000 million Americans,the I tell you my fairydust plans when your in the whitehouse want work,in the famous words of donald trump" your fired"

    September 27, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Marie MD

    From the party who attacks everything and anything with no solutions orphans. Twit, you are NOT going to be elected because you need a plan now not after November 6.

    September 27, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Who is she trying to convince, the reader or herself? Seriously. I figured they all went into quiet corners to cry and rock back and forth while huddled in a little ball frantically repeating their comforting reality-denial fever-dream ideology mantras...who knew they also do it in memos?

    September 27, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    As for TeamRomney. As inept as THEY are, their candidate is so much worse.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Lynda there is no differentiation. TeamRomney is Romney so they both suck, and if it is true that as a man runs his campaign so shall he govern, well....

    September 27, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    Romney the tax cheat and son of boss,and lyin Ryan the seven term sponge of your tax dallars are done along with the rest of the gop goof party , I can't wait to vote. Againest them early !!!!!!

    September 27, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Maxx

    It's like when W debated, if he could speak in complete sentences it was considered a win. What exactly does Romney have going for him – can't talk about Bain, his MA governorship, Romneycare, his taxes, his tax plan, his offshore back accounts, everything is a secret. If he can't debate, why is he even in the race (I know, republicans are asking that themselves).

    September 27, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. Newt's Moon land deal on the Dark Side

    Um, this memo states: However, the records he's compiled (President Obama) over the last four years – higher unemployment, lower income, rising energy cost, and a national debt spiraling of control – means this will be a close election right up to Nov. 6th. ??How would any of this "mean" that? Romney should be way ahead then. Right? This election will not be decided by the debates. It will be decided by the American people. ??Yes, duh. By the American people watching the debates. Who writes this stuff? Oh, yes, Beth Meyers, Senior Adviser to the Romney campaign.

    September 27, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. DP SMH

    This is just ridiculous coming out of the Romney's campaign. Debates is a very critical part of this election and should be taken very seriously. These debates will give us, the voters, the opportunity to hear from the candidates themselves and explain to us directly their opposition of their policies. For Mitt's senior advisor to come out explain to us why Mitt isn't going to win the first debate is down-right embarrassing. How can this man will ever be President if he bailing out all ready before the fight begins. I wonder as President how will he muster up to the other countries, if he's going to give up so easily. Pitiful!!! TRASH!

    September 27, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. Larry L

    I've never seen a candidate prep for poor performance. Could it be Romney knows his "platform" is so weak and his flip-flopping so common he'll completely lose the independent voters when he is shown to be a phoney? The Republican's problem is challenging – their core base of under-educated bigots will believe anything – but not independents.

    September 27, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. SBK

    Mitt never looked or acted Presidential in any of his appearances, did he? So why have high expectation of him? The election results are out already, handwriting is on the wall...He is constantly behind his opponent who has the public backing, with majority following, and that is called leadership. Sorry if you are a Republican you will hate me, but that is the TRUTH !!

    September 27, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. NVa Native

    Well I'm sure Mitt will continue his stealth camapign of getting the President right where he wants him. (chuckle)

    September 27, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. don in albuquerque

    GTrab the popcorn and settle in for the GREAT ride. Mitt will spend the next debate either doubling down, or explaining what stupid thing he said in the last debate. Heard a great little tune yesterday....sung to the tune of Willie Nelsons "On The Road Again." It was "I just can't wait to shoot off my mouth again,"

    September 27, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. CryBabies

    Be surprised liberals, be very,very surprised.

    September 27, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Lynda there is no differentiation. TeamRomney is Romney so they both suck, and if it is true that as a man runs his campaign so shall he govern, well....
    ---------

    Oh, I agree 100%. For a man who prides himself on his accomplishments, he certainly is lacking in all the fundamentals most people look for in a president.

    September 27, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. MnTaxpayer

    Gee. Mitt is sure lucky to have her on his side.

    September 27, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. Facts don't Lie

    Sorry but I don't buy this for ONE MINUTE. The Romney campaign is so dysfunctional it would be like them to put out the feelers that Mit will do poorly at this debate, then he'll come out firing like he did to Newt and Santorum. Besides unless Romney has a "Rick Perry moment" of total meltdown his base and the ones that post here will say he won it anyway and trust me they'll spin this debate so much they'll claim he cleaned Obama's clock when he didn't even come close. And if all elese fails they'll blame the "evil left wing media" and the questions were biased against Romney. Mark my words folks.

    September 27, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  24. Maria

    Someone needs to tell Romney that the debates are all he has left in trying to turn his shipping ship around. If he bombs after the first debate he will be at the point of no return.

    September 27, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. MnTaxpayer

    Not only has President Obama gained valuable experience in these debates, he also won them comfortably.

    Yes and he won them comfortably 4 years ago WITHOUT the valuable experience. So it's a pretty lame excuse for Romney.

    September 27, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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