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. sugar

    Does anyone else find it interesting that the first debate is about the economy which was (the closest description we were offered of) what Romney was going to fix? Things that make this ex republican go hm.

    September 27, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Larry

    I know they're trying to lower expectations to try to surprise people with a good performance but there's no reason to make him stupid before hand to do it as nobody believes he's an idiot.

    September 27, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. Bill from GA

    Wasn't he practice debating with Olsen??

    Was it Mary Kate or Ashley??

    Guess either one would out-perform mitts!!

    September 27, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. bev

    He has been running for 8yrs & debating the other repub candidates in their qwest to choose their candidate-I would think he would have experience.

    September 27, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  5. Karen

    It is amazing that the Republican party can say that President Obama is to blame for the problems with our economy when it was a Republican President who was in office when our economy went over a cliff! President Obama has made a fantatic effort to improve our economy and the lives of the American people against the Republicans in the House and Senate who refuse to pass any measures he has tried to pass and stand by their goal of trying to see that he only has one term. They have show that they do not care about what the American people want or what is in our best interest but only with pleasing their rich political backers! I for one want another 4 years under President Obama and I hope and pray that the Republicans – like the Grinch- have their hearts grow and begin to do the right thing by their fellow Americans!!!

    September 27, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. DB

    I guarantee Mr Romney will use the Palin "rope a dope" strategy. He won't answer any question asked . He will instead simply state "I'm not gonna talk about that, but I will talk about what i want to". One of his advisors has already said to not answer any questions directly, but go ahead and pivot to trashing the president. Don't expect anything from Romney except duck, avoid, pivot, trash. Moderators need to keep on both candidates to answer the question

    September 27, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. packerfans

    Come on Vote for Mitt Romney who can save America where is Promise Land by GOD. Obama want away Promise Land and different path way. He is The King. Dont Vote King. Vote for Honest President United States this time. Cannot afford King Obama second term will destroy America for good!!

    September 27, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  8. Clayton W Davis

    TeaPublikans are rancid, bald-faced liars led by Nit-Wit-Mitt-the-Power-Prancing-Twit, a pathetic imbecile devoid of brains and ethics, who is unqualified to be even a Cub Scout den mother. The GOP is going to get crushed on NOV 6. Most of the rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth Republikan members of Congress will find themselves swept away on the coattails of the Romney/Ryan SUICIDE TEAM. AND, the likes of WELFARE QUEENS like Eric Cantor, who's on the Public Dole and who does NOTHING WHATSOEVER to earn his salary, yet he still demands to be paid and covered by generous health insurance, will find himself in unemployment lines. No greater HYPOCRITES than J. Boehner and M. McConnell have EVER walked this Earth. They are American traitors, plain and simple. Mittens will always do just fine, with his Swiss and Cayman Island Bank Accounts. He makes me puke.

    September 27, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  9. jakeBlack

    Oh boy, the bully Obama is going to pick on our poor Romney in the debate. What a joke, I have seen noting but backtracking and taking all sides from Mitt. If Mitt can't handle Obama how is he going to handle the rest of the baddies out there?

    September 27, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    "Since he won'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, .. "
    This campaign is doing the same over and over: they respond to imaginary challenges. No wonder that more and more people take mittens less and less seriously.
    Obama is a bit too smart to just follow the expectations of some republican campaign strategists, particularly after they outline it all so well.
    bummer, back to the horses and the mansions, mittens.

    September 27, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    It's shameful that we have someone seeking to be re-elected to a job that he is not qualified to do. Anyone who pays attention knows our country is worse off. The best thing going for the president is having a media that refuses to see the truth for what it is. Just spend money and all iss well.

    September 27, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  12. Mike

    I just got a Romney Flyer in the mail, saying " President Obama believes Govt creates Jobs" and then next page says. " Vote for Romney, he will make job creation his First priority".. What the F**. Is Romney really that stupid.

    September 27, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  13. Francisco DeCastro

    I would rather have mccain win than romney

    September 27, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  14. Tim/Canada

    ....hehe Portman musta ripped Romney a new one in the debate prep pre-lims

    September 27, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. once upon a horse

    if Mitt does not do well in this debate it will not be his fault, it will be blamed on the left wing media setting him up to fail with gotcha questions and questions that favor Obama. Of course that is what the Limbaugh bunch will say like they are now claiming all the polls are skewed by liberals showing Obama leading (even in a FoxNews poll but why let facts get in the way) yet when Romney was leading in the polls all was well. Just saying...

    September 27, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. on StreetWise

    “Secret… agent Man, Secret… agent Man, You've given you a number, and taken away your name”... Agent: Mitt-666 Where’s your damn ’98-2007 Fed Tax Returns, before you self-destroy.

    September 27, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  17. Wellywellup

    Yes Obama is going to call mitt out on his lies. And yes the repubs will complain that Obama is attacking mitt by pointing out facts. Mitt is trying to set the bar as low as possible so he can claim some form of victory after Obama tears him to shreds.

    September 27, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  18. iTeach

    This lady is an idiot. That memo is just a big mind game played in desperation. Saying Mittens will lose because the President can actually articulate his plan in a way that people can relate to and understand...well it is what it is lady!

    September 27, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  19. Bush

    They are telling us that Romney is a loser do not waste time listenning to him. Coming from the horse mouth. And you think the American people is so dumb to elect a loser.

    September 27, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  20. Name

    Whoo hoo can't wait!

    September 27, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. Xavier

    Let's get rid of the stench and bring the real conservative: Ron Paul.

    September 27, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. ofolade

    I suspected it from d beginning now am sure Romney is a actually a Democratic agent sponsored by Obama to ensure the GOP loose the election

    September 27, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  23. CanadaONE

    he is likely a nice guy BUT he looks so stupid

    terrorists organizations are likely to capitalize on his dumb look and expression

    i am not sure how you lower "stupid look" expectations?

    September 27, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  24. Al

    As a republican this memo kills my enthusiasm. It is like someone telling you that your favorite team is going to the play-off but don't expect them to win. That's it! I am another republican who will vote for Obama. Obama 2012!

    September 27, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  25. ofolade

    I suspected it from d beginning now am sure Romney is a actually a Democratic agent sponsored by Obama to ensure the GOP loose the election is it too late for d GOP to change their candidate

    September 27, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
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