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. mdbill

    Wow, almost complete disdain for RoMoney except for "crybabies". And yes crybabies, we will be surprised, I'm sure of that. Surprised at how bad RoMoney is getting his a.. kicked

    September 27, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. NameEric Cromwell

    Mitt Rommy is not only going to lose the debates he will lose the elections also

    September 27, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  3. Iamnotfooled

    I guess all the Republican primary debates did not count. Well anyway she is right. He will now meet a champion debater. Obama 2012.

    September 27, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. najie2

    "... Romney has the issues and the facts on his side...."
    Then WHY is he trailing the President in all polls? Or does he intend to win the election because of the "voter suppression" laws that are likely to prevent some 5 million Obama supporters from exercising their rights? That could explain why at times he appears so unpeturbed about his trailing behind the President.

    September 27, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Too_Rebel

    Hmmm!

    What an admission of defeat before we even get to the main event in November. A sign and confirmation that the GOP has a real poor political machine to compete effectively and successfully in modern day American politics-they should have outsourced the job to unseatat BO to the Tea Party political campaign managers.

    Too little, too late....and its Barack Obama (POTUS) all the way!

    September 27, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. Thor4

    As far as I am concerned Romney has the lowest expectations I could have of anyone who has been in the running for the Presidency. Really and truthfully – this man is a total liar and he tries to bend the truth in any direction he can get away with.

    September 27, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Jay

    Throwing the towel already? This is the guy that wants to be pressident?

    September 27, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. Larry

    obama will win the debates the press will see to that nothing will change Gov. Romney will be the next president . obama is starting to show signs he is in trouble most states obama had in 2008 gone . Swing states gone Bill Clinton long gone not much help obama crowds real small , the middle class is gone all obama has is that 47 % welfare voter . 47 % is obamas best in the end it will be obama 47 Gov. Romney 53 % so when CNN ,FOX , ABC , NBC , CBS tell us what a good job obama did and how unsure of himself Gov. Romney was remember the people will still fire obama.

    September 27, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. Eric

    republican motto... always blame something else for your awful performance

    September 27, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Jonathan Wagner

    This "private" memo was actually, by the verbiage, a press release. They don't want Obama to attack Romney because he has a lot of weak points. All platforms aside, it would be nice to believe that facts and issues matter but when it comes to politics it is all about character. Both conservatives and liberals know this.

    September 27, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Jonathan Wagner

    This was a press release disguised as a private memo.

    September 27, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. whodathunk31

    Goi with what your good at Mitt! You've been lowering everones' expectations for months now.

    September 27, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. whodathunk31

    Go with what your good at Mitt. You've turned lowering people's expectations into an art form.

    September 27, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. trudy

    '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 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. GrampaSez

    You call him a LIAR, and you make it stick. If you don't, then OBAMA gets another 4...

    September 27, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. snoozie

    Pretty much only the republicans think Obama can't speak on his record. He certainly can, and I am sure he will.

    September 27, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  17. Wade

    It would not matter if a blind man could see Romney wins the debate the liberal press will declare Obama the winner no matter what. Every stupid thing or lie that Obama does or tell the media will ignore. Every comment Romney makes will be called , hateful,out of touch, desperate, lies etc...........

    September 27, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Given how much airtime both candidates have had (speeches, ads, interviews, etc.), it should be easy for the network broadcasting the debate to fact check in real time.

    As a candidate makes a statement, fact-check it for accuracy and put it in the crawl at the bottom of the screen.

    September 27, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. mcskadittle

    so he is going to spot the president a touchdown? that doesn't sound very smart

    September 27, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. smithdp

    Can't talk about his record, riiight. Wouldnt want to talk about 28 consecutive months of private sector job growth or 8 consecutive quarters of economic expansion. Not to mention the stock market up 100 percent since March of 09 a few months father he took office. And whatever hppenened to that Osama guy?

    September 27, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Bill from GA

    If mitts' crew wants to be honest, they'll begin to lower expectations for America if mitts wins.

    September 27, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  22. Benno Von Archimboldi

    The candidate preemptively explains his future idiotic behavior? Must be a proud day for you Limbots, huh?

    September 27, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  23. NameDoug

    Shame on you and the republicans, I BIG imbarishment to the American people

    September 27, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  24. ronb

    Voter suppression tactics will ruin the GOP FOREVER!!! Tell me they don't really think having to get a photo ID is going to stop the people who have been voting LEGALLY all of these years from voting?!?! LOL. Dummies. Those same people and MILLIONS who have never voted bfore are going to register to vote. The guy/gal who thought up that plan needs to be tar/feathered publicly.

    As far as willard and the debates, I'm sure his "aircraft" will make an emergency landing someplace because the windows won't open at 30,000 feet or his limo will get a flat on the way to the debate! C/mon man.

    September 27, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  25. silliness

    The Romney camp thinks they're playing REALLY SLY politics. Tricky stuff, guys. Downplay your abilities and expectations so that you can appear to shine brighter. Hey maybe the Dems will even fall for it and NOT prepare for the debates. Duh! This is High School student government election psych-out tricks. C'mon Romney and Co. you can do better than that... or can you?

    September 27, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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