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. Four and The Door

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    ...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....
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Except Obama is all about the campaign and truly sucked when it came to governing or otherwise delivering on all the campaign promises his speechwriters made up for him. Want proof? We're living it. Every day the news gets worse.

    September 27, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. Patrick

    He could hardly put away SANTORUM how the heck could he beat Obama? Cmon' people:) It was a matter of time.

    September 27, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. Wake up people!

    Flipping the script once again. Willard you started the attacks. Did you just expect President Obama to just roll over and not fight back??? We know you're not used to not getting your way but boy are you starting to sound like a whining brat. Who in Gods name would think a PAB like Mitt Romney would be a good president?

    Hey Willard, you want some cheese with that whine???

    I'm sure Ann will be out before next week trying for the sympathy vote. I bet between now and election day she will have some type of MS crisis. I'm not belittling the fact she has the disease, just that she uses it for sympathy. My sister has MS and she works hard everyday.

    September 27, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Mark Bistline

    Sounds like a screen play for a sequel to The Producers.

    September 27, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  5. Hey Romney

    omg.. you are kidding me? lmao.....this is so classic romney.. just like an ostrich when trouble day comes, just dig a hole and put your head in it until the storm is over...lol. omg..

    September 27, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. Jake in Omaha

    Willard about those tax returns.. The voters want to know how much un-taxed money you have in those
    Cayman Island accounts. Can we trust someone that outsources there money to tax havens.

    September 27, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. Pete

    Romneys advisors putting out a memo to all Super Pacs and donors,"Gov.Romneys going to suck in his debates against Pres.Obama,so don't be alarmed its just a mere bump in the Road"".Nice how they let their "political investors" know he's going down,debate wise,so don't be alarmed again if your coffers seem a bit empty,they will be and Romney knows it..If Romney were paid on performance he'd be broke and out in the street,his rich handlers rather donate to him than a poor third world country,the lies are actually better aren't they because they always change,no stale material from a Mormon pathelogical liar,he's trained professionally isn't he!!Now go tell your advisors STENCH to get your concession speech done while you have money,ya know they won't work for you for free!!

    September 27, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  8. No need to call the GOP Crybabies

    The GOP can set the bar as low as they like, but the truth is that Mitt will need to rise to the occasion unlike insulting our closest allies, and 47% of the American population. Somehow, Mitt always seems to insult people. Could it be that he thinks that he is better then everyone else? Nahhhhhhhh says the GOP loyal servants.

    September 27, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  9. mccainin4

    I would strongly suggest Mitt Romney find someone other than this lady to advocate for him. If your only argument is a sitting President is "Lying", you need to fire some people and get new writers. We've seen this sitcom before, and it wasn't funny the first time around. So far, all we got was the slick sales pitch of BIGGER, BETTER, BADDER without any substance. Mitt Romney has given absolutely no frame of reference to our current situation and how we got here to which we can base his governing approach on. That means – yup – a sales pitch reminiscent of snake oil hawkers at a state fair.

    September 27, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  10. don in albuquerque

    Dear CryBabies,
    I'm already surprised that anybody could even entertain the thought of voting for this draft dodging, lying, corporations are people my friend, 47% of the country are deadbeats, roll down the windows of a plane, and on and on. Don't leave this one to chance fellow libs!! GET OUT AND VOTE!!!

    September 27, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    Obama12.

    September 27, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. Amused

    It is the mark of a poor tactician to underestimate his opponent. Romney's team knows what he's up against. And so does Obama. Obama's not underestimating Romney. After all, the man has both an MBA AND a JD from Harvard. Romney's no dummy. He just doesn't have the oratory skill and mental agility that the President has, and they know it. If he was leading in the polls now, Romney could weather a bad debate performance. But given where he's at now, the debates will be the end of his campaign. Well, the one where he had a chance anyway.

    September 27, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. Confused

    What's this trying to sandbag, not very presidential. He must be second thinking his strategy of "I'll win because I'm not Obama", and "Just trust me, vote me in and you'll be fine." He might actually have to give some specifics on how he plans to do all these miraculous things he says he will do. Should be interesting.

    September 27, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Bill

    The endgame is at hand for the troubled an Romney camapaign. Pretty grim memo and seems as if they are girding for the final knockout punch of their flawed candidate.

    September 27, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  15. w l jones

    One thing for sure Mr. O can speak on most any subject whether local, state national government or international relation. This is what make him so valuable in dealing with local or national problem.

    September 27, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. 2012liberal

    And now we know why president obama was the president of the harvard law review. Obama w 1 harvard law degree and mitt w 2. Who's the better debater?! I'd hv obama defend me any day of the week. Oh wait he does!

    September 27, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  17. dog1

    I really hate to do it but I will vote for Romney IF, he signs a legally binding contract that when he starts a war or military action (which we all know he will because of the money he and his friends make from them) a minimum of two of his sons will be enlisted in U.S. Army combat units with a guarantee that they will serve in combat, not some administrative position and, should he default on this contract the office of the President is immediately given to whomever the Democrats choose....................................................................OH yeah, and he has to release his tax records so we can see how much he makes from his Chinese investments.

    September 27, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  18. mb

    This will just go to prove how worthless of a president Romney would be. And it will show the American people who really has a plan for all Americans, not just for the 1% that Romney thinks he should support.

    September 27, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. xlntcat

    Well, the strategy is understandable given Romney abysnmal performance on the campaign trail. Expectation for Romney are alrady so low all he has to do is somehow manage not to have a "OOPS" moment and the pundits will all say he did good. Fortunately, as with the VP debate in 2008 as well as the 2008 Presidential debates, the pundits and the public did not agree on debate performances. Biden blew old Grandma Palin out per the pollings as Obama did McCain.

    September 27, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. Steve S

    Just like McCain in 2008.
    Romney had to move so far to the right to get the 2012 GOP nomination, that he's virtually unrecognizable.

    September 27, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. Pete

    Go to YOUTUBE and go to Romney debates against Ted Kennedy,just to give you a heads up ,they're precious!!

    September 27, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  22. PJ

    So, if Mitt walks out on the stage without falling down, we have a winner. Way to put confidence in your
    candidate.
    I'm still waiting........waiting..........waiting.............for specifics, I mean, other than giving the oil companies a
    free ride to drill baby drill. Hope they ask him if he would allow drilling in our National Forests, since he
    is so willing to tear up one of the last pristine areas of America called ANWR.

    September 27, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. Jeetu

    So, Romney is accdepting defeat first but wants the American people to declare him the winner. Another double standard. He is fooling the public. Did Romney not debate his opponents in the primaries? Did he not win those?

    Does Romney have a plan to raise 12 million jobs in 4 years? That is 3 million jobs each year. Can this be done? How? What can a US president do to achieve that? Nothing really if you believe in free market system. Then you leave it to the market. Thus, all Romney is saying is that he really does not care waht happens to people, he just wants to win the election at all costs.

    Don't let him fool us and don't let him be POTUS. Vote democratic in November elections and ensure that democracts control the House and the Senate.

    September 27, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. NVa Native

    Yea, we've been very, very surprised so far – at how pitiful the Romoney/Ryan duo is.
    Who would have guessed anybody could be worse than Dubya!!

    September 27, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. 1608

    I'll quit now.

    September 27, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
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