Team Obama: Don't expect debate 'zingers' from president
September 30th, 2012
05:05 PM ET
2 years 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. p

    "The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president." Czech newspaper April 28 2010

    October 1, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. SuperD

    9 days passed until finally they admitted the Libya thing was a terrorist attack. The media being Obama's lap dogs refuse to report on this because it makes the President look bad.

    Now this same media, is reporting Obama surging in the polls. What a coincidence!! Obamaloney!!

    I want you crybaby Liberals on this board Nov 7 when this Progressive wet dream of an Administration is on the dust bin of history,

    October 1, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Dave

    I look forward to Robmey tap dancing around any swerious declaration of plans. He has none. He trashed Massachusetts and left the State mired in debt, he has no positive record as a Vulture Capitalist after firing 30,000 people, stealing their pensions, and sending their jobs overseas.

    At least Obama is trying to better America, not the Cayman Islands.

    October 1, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    personally I think Romney should bring out the Barbed Wire and a baseball bat and throw zingers the whole time, because believing obama is like growing money on a tree., it aint going to happen.

    October 1, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. Woman In California

    Zingers are all Willard has to fall back on because he certainly doesn't have any specifics or facts. I expect a lot of lies by Willard and his dysfunctional campaign staff and I expect Obama's team to be fully prepared and ready for them. Overall, I also expect Willard to crumble on the issue of his taxes and the 47% remarks. He'll try as usual to turn away the subject but I'm sure he won't get away with it this time. I look forward to this coward Willard facing the man he's lied about for six years to his face. It should be real interesting folks.

    October 1, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I see the media is going all out to turn the presidential debates into the same circus environment they turned the primary debates into. No wonder voters have already made up their minds in the quiet of their own home doing their own research. This is what happens when Republicans push the least likely candidate to win into the political arena - treating all of America as if it is as big of a joke as candidate Romney is himself.

    October 1, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  7. Ready

    We've gotten enough zingers from Obama, see all the promises made in 2008 that weren't kept.

    October 1, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Disgusted X's 2

    Are there really people out there who think that a brilliant debate performance can change anyone's mind about Mitt Romney??? When he thought no one was listening, he revealed his true feelings about the 47 percenters. It's not that very wealthy people can't be compassionate about the plight of the less fortunate; there are many, many examples of extremely wealthy people who put invest not only their time but their resources to make the world a better place for all.

    October 1, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Tony Z

    It will be interested. I would prefer to hear solutions not criticism of policies. Remember this is the Domestic policy debate- Bailout vs let Detroit go bankrupt; Let people loss their home, Recovery Act (which did work), welfare, and healthcare. Romney agrees with Obama now that he realizes appealing to the Right will not get him the Presidency.

    October 1, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. We Have No Power

    We have slowly become desensitized into accepting the inevitable, pre-chosen victor. It happens every four years and goeso n unquestioned.

    October 1, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. wes

    With a country so polarized and filled with prejudice and hatred, I see no reason to watch any debate. Since I am not a corporate entity it also begs the questions regarding the significance of my vote. Nevertheless I will cast a vote, but it will in all probability be deemed meaningless by the supreme court. Our country is by the rich, for the rich and of the rich. I belong to none of the aforementioned group of power mongers. My small life is defined by only the strict confines of wheelchair and a house, nothing more. It's your serve.

    October 1, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. Ray E. (Georgia)

    He's speaking directly to the people. Man, what a briilant statement! And he is going to tell me The Private Sector is doing fine. OK, can't wait.

    October 1, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. FactCheck

    Is Romney going to be talking about how he likes the trees because they are all the same height?

    October 1, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. Bayley0402

    To those of you who think Obama is a bad president, just wait and see what will happen if Romney is elected.

    October 1, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Me IN HOUSTON

    To: All you haters who want Obama out of office.
    Re: There is nothing you can say to anybody of sound mind and average intelligence that would/could convince them that President Obama is as bad as you say he is. AND he is most certainly not as bad as Bush was
    If America was willing to re-elect Bush who was SO bad.
    Then American will re-elect President Obama who is much better than Bush AND WAY BETTER than Romney

    October 1, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. pmbg

    p, that was never published by a Czech newspaper. It is a well known fake email that has been floating around for years. Couldn't spend 5 mins to google it before posting? Not the sharpest knife on the drawer, arent you?

    October 1, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. truth hurts

    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."
    =========================================================================================
    Oh really??!!! He sure hasn't had a difficult time reserving time for hundreds of campaign fund raisers and campaign events for well over a year now. Then of course there are the numerous rounds of golf and vacations and talk show appearances. Is there ANYTHING this guy will not lie about?!

    October 1, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Steve in CT

    I see "P" is still printing out that debunked Chech newspaper article. It is phoney "P", get over it

    October 1, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. truth hurts

    Obama without a canned script rolling by on the telprompter is a very dangerous thing for him and his election. It is when he might reveal who he really is, a far left socialist masquarading as a centrist liberal. His entire approach is based on the redistribution of wealth, period, end of story. He has NO CLUE on how to CREATE wealth, just take it from some and give it to others. A monkey with a dart board could accomplish the same thing.

    October 1, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Tony in St. Louis

    Our President shouldn't have to lower his standards to debate romney. Romney is simple a shady business character. He's that guy who sold me that lemon car when I was barely making ends meet. Obama has been the adult during this campaign, and I'm really getting sick of the pathetic romney gaffe's and gimmicks. Now we get "zingers" from Romney. When is he to tell us his grand plan? Can we grow up? We know that he could care less about 47% of the nation, he told us that much....what else? And please don't bring Obama into a question about romney.

    October 1, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. Arch Stanton

    Mitt's going to use an opportunity to discuss his vision to instead fire off a bunch of lame jokes somebody else wrote for him. He's practicing like a nerd buying a joke-book in hopes of being the life of a party he somehow got invited to. Instead of answering questions truthfully off the cuff, Mitt's just going to be scrambling to find ways to insert somebody else's "clever" quips into what he's saying. It's completely lame... but, what else is new? Romney's a lame candidate for a lame party and he'll only get the votes of lame, corny people.

    October 1, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. ginchicago

    Unfortunately all that Americans can understand are zingers. Our national I.Q. gets lower with each passing election.

    October 1, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. Hugh Jass

    "This will be the death of United States of America replaced with Socialist America." It's funny how you all try to get people to believe senseless junk like this. The guy's not a socialist, not even close. You are demonstrating why Mitt is about to fail so big; he has to try to please you oafs and your false beliefs and at the SAME TIME, debate like a grownup without namecalling or lies. He can't serve two masters, the GOP and the Truth, at once, and he's going to put the GOP first and just shut his eyes and namecall for all he's worth.

    October 1, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Howard

    truth hurts; i have been hearing from people like you all year long about how left and liberal the president is and how him being a centrist is only a joke. Tell me young sir, where on the line are you. Is it far right? From what you posted it sounds like it, doesn't really sound centrist to me. But what if the rest of the country was like you, far right? Don't you realize that checks and balances is what works and the more you and others keep spewing far right far left rhetoric there will never be a balance. Try compromise now and then. If your party would have learned that instead of vowing to make this a one term president from day one, we may have gone much further. Tell me again what will Romney change for you? I'll wait as we all have been waiting for the 6 years he has been running for President.

    October 1, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Jojola

    All the zingers, ho hos, ding dongs, twinkies or any other Hostess products can make up for Mitt’s ineptitude to lead this country. Mitt’s problem isn’t the fact that we don’t know enough about him. It’s just the opposite, we know way too much about him and what we know isn’t palatable or appealing. So, Mitt, serve up your best “rehearsed” zinger to President Obama and watch how he devours you and follows it with a glass of milk!

    October 1, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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