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. Jeb

    Romney lacks the backbone to stand up for what he really believes in.

    How would he possibly stand up to our enemies?

    September 27, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. Jeb

    Romney has taken both sides of every single issue.

    He should be debating himself.

    September 27, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  3. sueinga

    Romeys debate experience has been with his cohorts in the GOP to get to the general. He hasn't gone against anyone of Obamas caliber. Everytime Romney speaks his foot overpowers his mouth Barack will give him plenty of rope to hang himself . Barack wil mop the floor with Romney . I heard today that W is speaking at a investment conference in the Cayman Islands a week before election day Wonder how Romney feels about that.. PRICELESS. Guess now he wishes he had invited W to the GOP convention in Tampa after all.

    September 27, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  4. Tony

    I remember that in 2008, the pre-debate expectations for Palin were so low that as long as Palin finished the debate without crying, fainting, running out of the room or vomiting, the debate would be considered a tie. Wait, that was a Saturday Night Live video with Tina Fey. The way Romney is running his campaign, if pre-debate expectations are any lower they will be in Palin territory.

    September 27, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. Mike Texoma

    So, the idea is to lull the President into a false sense of security? I expect Romney to be a very good debater. I also expect him to lay out 2 or 3 brand new big lie maneuvers for just this occasion. This could be interesting.

    September 27, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. GOP IS DEAD

    @CryBabies

    Be surprised liberals, be very,very surprised.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You just couldn't resist using the term "liberals" in your comment. Could it be that's the reason Republicans are going down the toilet in all of the swing states. Could independent voters be turned off by the angry, bigoted, poorly-informed voters of the "red" states? Maybe stupid and hateful only works with the Fox News fans.

    Romney is apologizing for a debate performance that hasn't even happened yet. Now that's sad.

    September 27, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  7. SusieTX

    The reason President Obama is a good debater is because he speaks from his heart with passion and caring, and the majority of the American citizens see and feel that – We KNOW that he cares about us. When Romney speaks his eyes are blank, as if he is rehearsing words he has memorized, which he is. He does not seem sincere and the American citizens see and feel that as well. One other thing, the republican party refuses to accept that Bush played a huge part in the disaster of what we are living and having to deal with now. The majority does not suffer from amnesia but the republicans do. Our President has done a wonderful job considering what he was faced with his 1st day in office. If the repubs refuse to accept the responsibility for the fiasco they left for Obama and the American people, the people will reject their next offering, Romney. Who wants more of the same that we suffered under Bush when we have been trying hard to heal from?? I can't hardly wait for the debates.

    September 27, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Louis Tash

    When you picked Herman Munster for the GOP run you jumped the shark. The American people know that for the last four years the Republicans have held this country hostage and ruined our credit rating along with making us look the fool. A bunch of backwards crazy flat earthers who think that the earth is only 6 thousand years old. O and I forgot mitz magic underwear. Who would vote for a guy who was brought to Jesus by being dunked in a pool surrounded by golden caves.

    September 27, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. Ben

    I agree with the assessment of the President's oratorical skills, but he will not run from his record. Unemployment is high because companies (large or small) see an uncertain Congress. If taxes go up, companies have a war chest in cash to pay and hiring wil pick up. Yet at the same time you can't tax them to the helt. Federal spending must slow slow down and only once the economy upticks can that be done successfully. The housing market is climbing and it has been consistent for two years. Granted, the recovery is slow, but it should be. Because a brisk recovery after such a near collapse would be foolish. In macroeconomics, slow recoveries can provide essential building blocks and identify those areas that are weak.

    September 27, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  10. R Burns

    ". . .debates will not, in fact, decide the election – It will be decided by the American people" Really? Why hold debates if the American people will not be watching? Romney might need a new advisor. . .

    September 27, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  11. Allen Oakes

    Romney will do fine in the debates. He probably won't attack Obama as much as Obama deserves to be attacked but he will fight back. People underestimate Romney and that can be a plus for Romney. He wasn't successful by being a nice guy all the time. Its obvious he made good decisions and as President he will continue to make good decisions for the American people. I emphasize all the American people. We have to get the Novice out of the White House and put it someone who listens and makes good decisions for the Economy, Defense, Foreign Affairs and other important aspects of the government.

    September 27, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  12. judy

    didn't romney have lots of debates during the republican primary.? This is just the mittens campaign trying to make their guy look like poor me the underdog trying to get his point across against big mean old Obama. This is pathetic politics. He should just throw in the towel and stop wasting peoples money/put it into the economy. Forward 2012

    September 27, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  13. CarolO

    In other words, only ask Romney dumb questions so we won't notice the dumb answer?

    September 27, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. sargentpepper

    he could raise expectations if he just put an empty chair to debate obama.

    September 27, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. vic , nashville ,tn

    Other hand Romney is saying he will do the fact check in the debate
    What is wrong with Romney Campaign?

    September 27, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. Janetta Doe

    I think Beth Meyers may be showing us her poker face and trying to make people think they have a high card when they really have a royal flush in an attempt to gain the upper hand.

    September 27, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. Valar Morghulis

    "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."

    A more accurate statement would be Romney has his version of the issues and facts on his side. So far his perception of what the voters are looking for are so far off the mark especially in light of his now famous description of the 47% at a Florida fund raiser.

    Go home Romney and take Ryan with you. Neither one of you is needed nor qualified to be running the federal government.

    Vulture/Voucher 2012 going down, down, down!
    .

    September 27, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  18. 111Dave111

    "Mitt Romney and his allies are trying to lower expectations"
    This is like limbo (Caribbean dance) with bar on the floor.

    September 27, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  19. ven

    I don't care about Mr.Obama's oratory skills. The man has a deep understanding of the middle class and the poor and their hardships; something Mr.Romney, luckily, never experienced or knows. For all I care, Mr.Obama can stand there and drool through the whole debate, taking gibberish – I still empathize with his opinions and feelings. Mr.Romney, always will remind of the car salesman I have to deal with every 6 or 8 years.

    September 27, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Janetta Doe

    I think Beth Meyers may be showing us her poker face and trying to make people think they have a high card when they really have a royal flush in an attempt to disarm the unsuspecting.

    September 27, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. emma

    @crybabies...I'm a conservative, and I have been waiting all year for Governor Romney to surprise me...we could have selected a better candidate.

    September 27, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  22. LiberaLIowan

    Mittwit is the definition of lowered expectations.

    September 27, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  23. Valar Morghulis

    We've seen Romney in eighteen previous debate primaries. What can he tell us that he hasn't already flipped and flopped several times?

    This was probably the last time the Republicans had a shot at the White House. With shifting demographics Republicans will become a permanent minority party. No doubt they will still cause mischief in the Senate for a while, but that too is coming to an end.

    Vulture/Voucher 2012 going down, down, down.

    September 27, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  24. iaguy

    Romney's campaign is disgusting. It's one thing to play the expectations game. That's, well, expected. But all this "He's going to lie!" talk is just lowdown trash. They have no class at all. Particularly considering the stream of contradictory nonsense Romney has been throwing around for the entire campaign. His own VP's convention speech is regarded as one of the most dishonest political speeches in recent memory.

    I really can't wait till Romney and his whole terrible crew leaves the national stage. These are just awful people who think their wealth gives them the right to have power. "Run the country," as Anne Romney put it. Clearly these are not people who would serve the country.

    September 27, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  25. Joe

    This press release was an attack ad.

    September 27, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
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