Largely hidden away, Obama reports debate prep 'going great'
Anita Dunn (right) is playing CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley (left) in President Barack Obama's debate preparation sessions. Dunn is pictured appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" on November 6, 2011.
October 14th, 2012
05:08 PM ET
2 years ago

Largely hidden away, Obama reports debate prep 'going great'

Williamsburg, Virginia (CNN) – Amid a picture-perfect autumn weekend at an expansive Virginia resort and golf club, President Barack Obama spent much of Sunday sequestered indoors as he and his aides prepared for a pivotal second debate with rival Mitt Romney.

In his one public appearance of the day – a quick trip to a local campaign field office to greet supporters – Obama reported his debate practice "is going great" but declined to elaborate further.

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Campaign aides are also revealing few details about the debate preparations to the dozen or so reporters who have followed Obama to the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, though it appears they have taken an all-hands-on-deck approach in an effort to ensure the president does not have a repeat showing of his widely panned performance 10 days ago.

Several of the president's top aides have been spotted roaming the property, including White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, and David Axelrod, the president's chief political strategist.

Also seen here was U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts – large color-coded binder in tow - who the campaign confirms is again playing the role of Romney in the debate preparations. Moreover, a campaign official said Anita Dunn, the former White House Communications Director, has been recruited to play the role of debate moderator and CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Still, the president and his VIP entourage might only be the second-most exciting show on these exclusive grounds this weekend: also happening just yards from the building Obama is prepping in is a convention of dozens of Ferrari enthusiasts. At last count, about twelve Ferraris – old and new – lined the meandering James River abutting the resort.

The president's only respite Sunday came shortly after 2 p.m. ET, when his motorcade departed the resort grounds en route to the small campaign office five miles away. Obama delivered four boxes of pizza to the handful of volunteers waiting inside and proceeded to call two other local supporters.

"We are going to keep on pushing for the next three weeks," the president told one of the individuals he called.

Also on the CNN Political Ticker

– Rocker to campaign for Obama

– Shot fired at Obama campaign office

– Poll: Romney ahead in key state

– Obama takes supporters out to dinner

– Romney, Ryan buoyed by debates


Filed under: President Obama • Presidential Debates • Virginia
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. MikeB

    Seriously. Will acting lessons for Obama overcome his record of violating is oath of office and subversion of our Personal Liberties and National Sovereignty?

    October 14, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. 2020

    President, sharpen your left jab, right jab. Give Romney a left, a right, another left to finish him off.

    If I were his dad, i use a two by four for such a liar

    October 14, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Ask to show ten years of taxes–he is not your uncle to be polite. 300 million democracy in jeopardy. Bring 47% comment. Joe did great job. Do it that way. Yes, on Obama12.

    October 14, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    If mitt interrupt tell him to shut up... Please do not be polite. 47%, let Detroit go bankrupt etc., good Luke. Obama12.

    October 14, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. DEE

    Ask Romney about his investments (Bain ) in China, and closing factories in the US to increase his profits. Also how he trained other companies to do the same,=Moving jobs to China, yet he calls Our President weak on China?
    Just this week a non union company learned that Bain Capitol is closing an Illinois plant to ship jobs to China.

    October 14, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Mit

    Going great, just like last time

    October 14, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. William

    Why would a "Constitutional Law Scholar" and Nobel Peace Prize winner, need to practice for a debate?

    October 14, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. Thaw

    I have great faith in Obama – and I have great faith that the truth will win. Romney does not know the real world from his fantasy lies he tells each day. America does not need a two faced man such as Romney in charge. I would not put Romney in charge of a "pee up in a brewery" He would probably send all the beer to China to make more profit than he did in sending appliances to China while he was a Bain.

    October 14, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. josetoyou

    Hmmmm. Not a "drag" this time huh?
    I hope he gets his crock cleaned again by Mr. Romney.

    October 14, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  10. red hot rash

    why do we have to put this clown up in a resort? is the white house not OK?

    October 14, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. nasty teeth

    obama can cram all he wants for the debate. he is going down as an EPIC failure in the history books. INCOMPETENT, ARROGANT, INCAPABLE

    October 14, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  12. FedUp

    As long as he doesn't prove Clint Eastwood's empty chair theory, I will be happy. He didn't show up last time.

    October 14, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  13. BinaryTooth

    You can't force Obama to be a man by cramming for a debate.

    October 14, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  14. Ann

    wow, he needs to be trained how to address the moderator now?

    October 14, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  15. nvtncs

    Dear president Obama,
    Don't apologize, don't purse your lips, don't defend.
    List your accomplishments and be proud of your accomplishments. Ask Romney what has he done the last 4 years.
    Draw a sharp contrast between the middle class centric society and the republican plutocracy.
    Don't let Romney adopt your positions. Don't allow him to flip flop; remind the audience what Romney said earlier.
    Ask him whether that was his final answer?
    Attack, calmly, again and again and again. No need to smile or laugh; just skewer him with the truth and his lies.
    Don't be a pussycat.
    This election was and is yours to lose.

    October 14, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Joseph L Cooke

    "Obama reports debate prep 'going great'" That was before he learned no teleprompters would be allowed.

    October 14, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. Dan B

    They said it was going great last time.

    October 14, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    Obama has probably already been given the debate questions by Crowley.......who is as partisan as they come, and working for as partisan a media as there is.

    October 14, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. enuff

    What do ferrari enthusiasts have to do with the debate? Other than CNN trying to make the president LOOK LIKE he is hob-nobbng with rich elitist 1% of people? He is not Romney, he isn't "hiding" and this is NOT one of Romney's secretive fundraising "retreats". Quit trying to paint the president with the same brush Romney already used.

    October 14, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. liberal disease

    anything is better than last time

    October 14, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  21. Rachni

    He set the bar so low all he has to do is slightly better and all his hard core supporters will think he did a tremendous job.

    October 14, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. ALittleBird

    Let me make clear that the Romney team will be anticipating Obama's change in tactics and will have new answers to refute them with. The Obama team needs to anticipate what those changes will be as well, and make plans to handle them accordingly.

    October 14, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. Morning1Su,

    Dear President Obama,

    May God Be With you. We know you are an honest and truthful man. It pains me you have to debate with a lying cheating man such a Mitt Romney. We pray that good will conquer evil. We can tell Mitt Romeny had a ball smashing you in front of everyone. It is hard to do the same when you are a decent human being and was taught only to say good things. You have a big job ahead of you. As a lying dishonest man Mitt Romney has no conscious. He will try to do the same to embarrass you in front of millions of people. We pray for you Mr. President and if you BELIEVE, our Lord will be there with you on the debate stand guiding your way. You are in our Angel Hands.

    October 14, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  24. bb

    Good luck to President Obama because trying to pin Romney down on issues is like trying to stand in quicksand. They both keep shifting!

    October 14, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  25. donna

    The 2nd debate is critical, but all the President needs to do is reassure us and he'll be re-elected. It happened to Ronald Reagan against Fighting Fritz, surely it can happen to Obama. No worries about the 3rd debate by the way, everyone will have made up their minds by then.

    October 14, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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