Team Obama: Don't expect debate 'zingers' from president
September 30th, 2012
05:05 PM ET
1 year ago

Team Obama: Don't expect debate 'zingers' from president

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election campaign said Sunday the president likely won't be flinging barbs during this week's presidential debate.

"If you're expecting that, that's probably not what he's going to deliver," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One. "He's speaking directly to the American people, and what they want to hear is what his plan is for moving the country forward."

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Psaki was referring to reports that the president's opponent, Mitt Romney, was "working on zingers" and memorizing short attack lines to fire off at the president during Wednesday's debate in Denver, the first presidential showdown this cycle.

Her comments came as the president flew to Nevada, where he holds a rally in Las Vegas Sunday night before staying off the trail and in debate preparation for the final few days leading up to the event in Denver.

Psaki added the president's focus will be more trained on the audience at home than his competitor on stage.

"This will be a very large audience. He wants to speak directly to the families, the people on their couches at home, having snacks, drinking a beer, drinking a soda, whatever it is, and tuning in for the first time. And that's who he's speaking directly to," she said.

Continuing to lower expectations - a game both campaigns have played for well over a week - Psaki added Obama's White House duties have limited his debate preparation, saying it's "difficult to schedule significant blocks of time when you're the president."

As part of his practice, however, Psaki said the debate team has been watching debates that date back years, including Romney's face-offs with Republicans and Democrats. They note Romney's experience, especially in the Republican primary this year, has trained the candidate to perform well.

"(Romney) has been disciplined and been able to give short answers, so we know that's a strength," Psaki said, adding that Obama on the other hand has a "tendency to give longer substantive answers."

She continued to set the bar high for Romney, saying the Republican nominee and "his team have been clear, what they need, what they expect from the debates is a game-changing performance."

Asked why Obama was holding his debate prep in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Psaki said Nevada was a "key state for us" and pointed to the early voting start date of October 20.


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. releggneh

    Just remember to bring extra teleprompters with you!

    September 30, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. blake

    Romney will expose the failure, deception, outright lies, blaming, irresponsibility, and divisiveness of Obama. Ryan will easily trump Biden (a total baffoon) in a laugher.

    September 30, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. Mike

    Must be difficult to find time to practice with all lthose events with Jay-Z, Bayoncee, Lettermen, golf, etc., etc.

    September 30, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  4. Smeagel4T

    This is good news. Romney lining up "zingers" means he'll continue to demonstrate his divisiveness and unsuitability to be president to independent voters. This is precisely what I was hoping for. Romney continuing to act like a whiney divisive game playing child, and the president continuing to demonstrate his adult representation of all Americans. Romney will be demonstrating a low maturity level like he has been during his entire campaign, while the president will be demonstrating a much higher maturity level.

    September 30, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Smeagel4T

    Will Mitt be responding to the attacks from his wife saying Mitt is too emotionally unstable to be president?

    September 30, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  6. NotFooledByDistractions

    I expect romney won't fare well for a couple reasons – his speaking style – he seems nervous and too eager to please, too eddie haskell-ish, his eyes dart around and it makes him appear to be panicking. Secondly, he's relying on practiced "zingers" – not actual substance. That shallow approach won't win him the presidency. romney has too many policy contradictions out there – there's so much ammo he can get nailed with – he'll be walking a tightrope all night.

    September 30, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Russ in Md.

    "He's speaking directly to the American people, and what they want to hear"
    Just like he did in 2008 and the only "Hope" is that he is voted out and "Change" the failed policies that he has implemented.

    September 30, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  8. Corey

    Wow. First the DNC was tamping down expectations saying Obama won't win the first debate, but now his campaign temping down expectations that Obama won't be able to get any shots in.... Of course he won't get zingers in, do you really think Obama can even tie his shoe without the aid of a TelePrompTer?

    September 30, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. Jim whalen

    What a true statement OBAMA will say this week what Americans want to hear, sure but do something not say what we want you to say you did that 4 Years agao and WHAT NOTHING.

    September 30, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. Romney Is Finished

    All along the President has remained the adult in the room. He's offered compromise only to face political theater from Republicans in the Congress. Republicans and their Tea Party "oaths" caused use to get our S&P rating lowered. The Senate filibustered three times as much as any Senate in history. The GOP-led House offered nothing but "personhood", "drill, drill, drill" or "don't make the rich pay their taxes" bills. Republicans actually want the government to fail so they can score political points.

    The President has too much class to stoop to the level of Rob-Me and Lyin' Ryan.

    September 30, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. ted

    Obama will tell the truth and Mitt will twist it.

    September 30, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. Justjean

    If Romney is planning zingers and the President is not, I am not worried. The President is quite unflappable and pretty dang quick with responses that turn barbed comments on their heads.

    September 30, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. John L

    But that's what the GOP do!...turn everthing into reality TV. Now Obama tells us he's there only to debate for real!

    Once again... the Rmoney ticket has been out flanked....genius.

    September 30, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  14. Augie10

    God speed Mr President! My family's thoughts and prayers are with you and we have the greatest confidence in you! You fight for us – the middle class.

    September 30, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  15. el rob o

    are we to believe he'll now try to appear "presidential"? His strength is "zingers", unfortunately all he has are those cute quips. everything else about him is a farce. But he shouldn't worry, the media will declare him the victor before the debate even begins.

    September 30, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  16. James AL

    Romney has had six year to preparation and dozens of debates so we expect him to do well. The president on the other hand has been doing his job and all I want him to do is keep telling the truth and lay out his plan.

    We support you Mr. President!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    September 30, 2012 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  17. Bryan

    Lol at Obama's presidential duties have left little time for debate. He's been campaigning since the start of the year. Immediately after the embassy attacks on 9/11, he was off to Las Vegas.

    September 30, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  18. Fact

    Psaki added Obama's White House duties have limited his debate preparation, saying it's "difficult to schedule significant blocks of time when you're the president."
    But there was enough time to go on "The View". It is absolutely amazing what nonsense the president and democrats get away with because they own the media and government education (?) system.

    September 30, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  19. Liz the First

    Obama barely has to speak. all that's necessary is to let RMoney open mouth and insert foot. i hope folks watch the fact checker program after the debate. that will tell anyone all they need to know about the republican lie machine.

    September 30, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  20. Someday

    "If you're expecting that, that's probably not what he's going to deliver..."

    "Probably" doesn't mean it won't happen. Spin lives.

    September 30, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  21. Anthony... proud tax payer

    President Obama won't need zingers... just a few simple truths...

    1. Middle class grows the country.
    2. Trickle down economics are a PROVEN failure (see 8 years of Bush tax cuts)
    3. The bailout saved us from depression (and some Republican Governers used that money to balance their budgets)
    4. Romney still hasn't proven he ISNT a 47 percenter....
    5. Congress(Republicans in particular) hold the purse strings... and the record number of filibusters(obstructing recovery)
    6. Creating jobs is better then losing jobs. FACT
    7. Going to WAR actually costs money.... (so does starting new ones)

    8. Ask Romney to clarify specifics about any solutions he has... (simple, not just talking points)

    Then sit back and let the people decide (not the pundits, expert analysis, or talking heads).

    Vote 2012

    September 30, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    President Obama will stick to the facts and all the successes his Administration has had in moving our country forward, while Mittens tries to run away from his flip-flops and explain why he's written off 47% of America, including the elderly, veterans and the disabled.

    No need for zingers; the truth will make it plain as day who we should vote for Tuesday, November 6, 2012:

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    September 30, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  23. Pete/Ark

    My favorite ventriloquist never makes jokes...he just plays it straight and lets the dummy get the laughs...Romney will keep us all rolling in the aisles with his canned "zingers' and "one- liners" .

    September 30, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  24. hangar13

    We don't need to hear the President's plan to move the country forward, we've lived four years of it. Fewer people working, family net worths slashed, median income down, national debt over $16 trillion and climbing, foreign policy failures too numerous to list, with the most prominent being played out in the Middle East right now. Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers demand answers on why the administration has been lying about the attack on the US Embassy in Libya, and the mainstream media ignore it. American death toll reaches 2000 in Afghanistan, and the media are silent (look up media reaction when "Bush's" Iraq death toll reached that milestone). Wake up people, read some other news sources, I don't have time to update you every day on what's really happening. I work for a living, and pay taxes.

    September 30, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  25. john

    "He's speaking directly to the American people, and what they want to hear is what his plan is for moving the country forward."

    Well, that's the first time I've agreed with them. Of course, we've been waiting FOUR YEARS for it. Enough talk already. We want some ACTION.

    September 30, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
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