September 23rd, 2008
09:30 AM ET
12 years ago

Strikingly different debate prep approaches for McCain, Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama and McCain are starting to prepare for the upcoming debates."]
(CNN) - There may be no greater illustration of John McCain and Barack Obama’s differing styles than the way they're preparing for Friday’s presidential debate.

Barack Obama is reportedly going to Florida for "debate camp" - traditional preparation that includes a sparring partner playing the role of his Republican opponent.

McCain’s prep is more on the fly: He spent several hours Sunday at his campaign headquarters working with aides, and he spent several hours in a Pennsylvania hotel Monday afternoon doing the same.

He will follow this "squeeze it in" prep schedule Tuesday as he campaigns in Ohio, and Wednesday around meetings with world leaders in New York.

Not until Thursday afternoon and Friday in Mississippi are McCain aides planning to hunker down and devote all the candidate’s time to debate prep.

Another illustration of how McCain’s preparation for Friday’s faceoff has been somewhat untraditional: right now aides say they don't have anyone playing the role of Obama in mock debates. Right now advisers like Mark Salter and Charlie Black and others are throwing questions at McCain they think the moderator could ask, without an "Obama" figure in the mix — although aides say that scenario may change by week’s end.

(Three advisors insist that reports former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele is playing Obama in debate prep are untrue — Steele is uninvolved, they say. Also untrue: a report that McCain may hold a Mississippi town hall Friday to help him warm up, as he has often done on debate days.)

One senior advisor involved in this prep says they feel because foreign policy is the subject of the first debate, and they believe that's McCain’s strong suit, a lot of time is being spent working on what aides believe remains the Arizona senator’s big challenge - keeping his answers short.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. Catherine

    Barack Obama prepares, McCain just "wings it". How typical.

    We already have one President who doesn't do his homework. We can't afford more of the same, not in this time of crisis.

    McCain is unstable and simply doesn't have the temperament or dedication to be President. I hope that the McCain holdouts start actually intellectually *thinking* about what this country needs soon, because if they stop shouting and believing lies and actually use their brains they will also realize that we need Barack Obama as our President.

    September 23, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. loves paper

    Hee hee! McCain had better do some debate camp. Obama is an incredible speaker and a whole lot smarter than McCain. The Republicans will be in shreds after a few of these debates.

    September 23, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  3. Raymond Duke

    Obama will need more prep . Without his teleprompter and somebody telling him what to say he is as lost as a goose in a cotton field, Hillary was doing her job claiming it was the administrations fault and it partially is. What she is leaving out is that the democrats have been the ones blocking any re-vamping of Fannie May and Freddie Mac. Democrats are more responsible for this fiasco than the republicans , like Obama, Barney Franks, Chris Dodd.

    September 23, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Phil Newton in Murphy, Oregon

    I want to know how McCain will talk himself out of supporting Bush 90% of the time and talk us into believing he's an "agent of change."

    A pretzel comes to mind.

    September 23, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. VIRGINIA will be blue

    These debates will be the icing on the cake for Sen. Obama. This is when he can how the country how out of touch McSame is from the rest of us. Give him hell Barack.


    September 23, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    Gotta do it at the last minute John because you ain't gonna remember it for very long anyway.

    September 23, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. SteveJJ

    Never happen E POP. Here's the scoop, McCain will be President for four years, then Sarah Palin will be the President for eight years.

    September 23, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Dr. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA








    September 23, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. ltd1974- Ohio for Obama

    Good Tuesday morning. SIREN – Karl Rove writes on that he is poised to move Senator Obama into a projected electoral-vote lead, though NOT clinching: “Indiana (11 EV) … has flipped from McCain to toss-up based on three new polls … the two states where the parties’ conventions were held: Minnesota (10 EV) went from Obama to toss-up and Colorado (9 EV) went from toss-up to Obama.

    Go Obama/Biden '08

    September 23, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Guido

    How do they prepare?

    Obama spends his time studying facts and figures.

    McCain spends his time trying to remember how to read.

    September 23, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Concerned INDEPENDENT CT voter

    We can't have ANOTHER president... that shoots from the hip like McCain....


    September 23, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. inat

    lol obama needs debate camp 🙂

    speak volumes about experience – McCain can debate foreign policy based on experience. Obama needs to cram with "advisors" in order to debate something he knows nothing about.

    Giving a speech in Berlin is NOT foreign policy. Trying to undermine a REAL adminsitrations negotiations in Iraq is CERTAINLY not foreign policy – more like Chicago politics policy

    September 23, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. BJGT

    Grandpa's going to be grumpy from his long week – wonder how long it will take him to commit his first gaffe and lose his temper???

    September 23, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. Joseph

    if McCain thinks that talking about his POW history is going to get him through the debate he is sorely mistaken.

    September 23, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  15. (JFK/RFK) Kennedy Dem - No Obama!

    Why can't Honest, great-speaking Obama speak off the cuff?! What is new, what is change - if it's scripted?!

    For a man who isn't a Washington insider, isn't a politician - he sure does act like one....if it looks like a duck, quacks like a's a duck. Put lipstick on that!!!

    September 23, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. maynard hopkins wi

    Can't anyone have a debate with out practicing for it . Let it go off the cuff then everybody would see who the better candidate is.

    September 23, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Olivia

    E POP........that's a load of crap.

    IF Obama wins, the two bigmouths will stick together for 1 term.
    Hillary will run in 2012 and NOT offer Obama the vp slot.
    Most likely scenario........Hillary/Palin 2012....crossing party line and teaching the good old boys a lesson. Obama will find out that he is who he plays with and that money can't buy him love or office indefinately.

    September 23, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. Phoenix

    You know what E POP, it should still be a no contest situation. You want to know why, heck, look at what the Republicans have done to this country. If you vote republican this year, either you are racist or not informed. It's one of those, and I'm a black Republican who is looking for her party to get back to basics. This is actually a situation where I cannot find any other excuse for voting for McCain/Palin. It saddens me that I feel that I can legitimately pull the race card for why people will not vote for Obama, but I try not to forget that there are plenty of whites that can look beyond race.

    September 23, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. manoli

    May they both tell the truth.

    September 23, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. Dr. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA





    September 23, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. Purple Nurple

    I am just mad as hell today. Mostly at those bastards in washington and wall street. Man, they created a problem my grandson will be paying for. And the funny part, this bailout goes to the firms on wall street and not main street. As far as I am concerend, they can all go fu*k themsleves......HARD!

    September 23, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  22. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    "He will follow this "squeeze it in" prep schedule Tuesday as he campaigns in Ohio, and Wednesday around meetings with world leaders in New York."

    Good for him! I'd also suggest the early bird special and lots of power napping, because he's REALLY going to need it!

    September 23, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Who cares CNN? Stop worrying about debates and worry about the issues! The debates will be here in 4 days.

    The only thing Obama needs to be armed with are the facts about Bush and McCain and where his stands on foreign policy issues inter-weaving the financial hardships based a bad foreign policy.

    September 23, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. John McCain

    I wish I had the luxury to prepare for a debate when I was held prisoner in Hanoi. Unlike Obama.

    In fact, I do recall that I had debate prep when the VietCong were torturing me.

    Remember, I was a POW

    September 23, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. Reese

    Epop your ignorance is astounding to say the least.

    Did you know that if it were not for the Republicans Obama would be a slave? Yes, that's right. The Republicans FOUGHT to end slavery. The Democrats opposed it.

    Thats why many blacks today stay true to Republicans. Democrats from the beginning have been a party about greed, and enforcing slavery.

    Did you also know that O 'Bama voted FOR the Bridge to nowhere?
    Did you know McCain voted AGAINST it?
    Did you know Sarah Palin killed the bridge after Congress wanted 200 more million dollars from Alaskan tax payers for the loan?

    Of course not. The only thing people like you understand is what is popular to believe and therefore form your opinions based on thinly veiled stories meant to SWAY you in one direction.

    Your'e nothing but a sheep who follows the herd.

    September 23, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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