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

Strikingly different debate prep approaches for McCain, Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/21/art.debateprep.gi.jpg 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. Mike - Texas

    I love it!!!!!!!!!

    Nobama has to go to "debate camp" in order to prepare for his debate with McCain.

    As badly as Nobama performed in the primary debates, maybe he should start off at the kindergarden level.

    No teleprompter for Nobama, so he'll have to memorize everything.

    This ought to be fun.

    September 23, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Yankee Air Pirate

    No teleprompter,no chance !

    September 23, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. CM

    The debates haven't historically made any difference. A lot of the people watching wouldn't know the answers to the questions or if the candidates gave the right ones anyway. A lot of people are blown away by the short quips from McCain and the thoughtful answers from Obama don't impress the ones looking for flash and not at substance.

    I still predict Obama will surprise everyone and take the debates handily. He didn't work his way through his education on scholarships by not being able to prepare properly.

    September 23, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. KATHLEEN

    The Republicans have succeeded in getting MSNBC Keith Olbermann,
    Cris Matthews OFF THE AIR. But FOX News with Hannity and ROVE
    thrives. Old news is that Hannity hired Rove as a political newsboy!

    Obama Biden 2008 or BUST!!!!

    September 23, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Linda from Prescott AZ

    Obama will beat McCain on Substance. McCain will of course bring out his POW card, God knows what it brings, but he keeps using it.

    September 23, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Steve - St. Louis, MO

    I think this has the potential to echo the famous Kennedy/Nixon debates, starring Nixon/McCain as the sweaty, grumpy, crotchety old guys, vs Kennedy/Obama as the younger, more suave and relaxed newcomer. I hope the result is also the same, after America gets a good chance to see these candidates perform.

    It could be/should be Obama in a knock-out.

    September 23, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. check and checkmate

    If Obama needs Biden to get votes and experience factor, and the Clintons for help with his message my question now with the 700-1trillion $ bailout what good will come from Barack's grand plan if there is no $ for these good time plans?????
    ps. i'm computer challanged also so I guess that Obamas people believe in solent green also.

    2012 😉

    September 23, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. KATHLEEN

    The Republicans have succeeded in getting MSNBC Keith Olbermann,Cris Matthews OFF THE AIR. But FOX News with Hannity and ROVE thrives. Old news is that Hannity hired Rove as a political newsboy!
    Obama Biden 2008 or BUST!!!!

    September 23, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. pam Eugene OR

    I can't wait to hear McCain's "ready...fire...aim" answers.
    This will be fun to watch him make a fool of himself.

    September 23, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. Generation X

    Don't forget; McCain is a POW!! lmao

    September 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Billy

    I support Obama but lets not get too confident.

    Obama is a marginal debater and McCain is very good. This is also McCain's supposed "area of expertise".

    Lastly, for what ever reason, the American public seems to hate people who deliver well though out and articulated answers (Obama does this) and prefer the snap decision, off the cuff, simplistic answers (McCain).

    So, a lot is against Obama going into these debates.

    September 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. Eating Buffalo Wings in Heaven with Russert

    I look forward to Biden throwing Obama under the bus some more during the VP candidate debates.

    Hahaha....it was a matter of time before Ol' Foot in his Mouth Biden stepped in it.

    September 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. California Gold

    I love it when McCain wings it. He comes up with the most stupid, inane, imbecelic things I've ever heard. Even President Bush must be dazzled with what comes out of McCain's mouth. Such fond memories: the sing along song bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran, "drill drill drill here, drill right here right now, drill my friends, DRILL", 7 days ago proclamation the economy is fundamentally sound as Lehman Bros. files bankruptcy, the economy imploded and we are again 1929, and offering Cindy McCain to the Sturgis Ohio biker rally as Miss Buffalo Chip while the crowd yelled at her to show her tits.

    September 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. georgia independent

    I'm planning to have popcorn to munch while I watch Obama trounce McCain on Friday night.

    Also going to count how many times McCain says POW. Want to take bets on that? I figure at least 12. Maybe 7 "Ronald Reagans"? Bet there won't be one "Bush".

    September 23, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. L Daniel

    YOu make it sound as if JM is not preparing, when in fact some form of prep is on every day of his schedule. However the different approaches continue to shed light on the different styles of these two individuals.

    GO OBAMA

    September 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. VIRGINIA will be blue

    I actually think the VP debate will be more entertaining to watch. I just can't wait until Joe puts a muzzle on that chihuaha. She better get all of the photo opportunities while she can. That still won't help her. She has no foreign policy knowledge at all.

    September 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  17. value

    This will be good. Mccain will show he isnt as good as Obama. When he starts to get confused it will be over. Just get the little man upset and he will make big mistakes. Obama will shorten all his answers because he knows what the public will believe.

    Obama

    September 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  18. MT

    Anonymous,

    Your post is sad but true...

    September 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. KATHLEEN

    Bill Clinton approved deregulation!!!!!! He talks "REPUBLICAN"
    on "THE VIEW! AND watch LARRY KING LIVE TONIGHT WITH
    GOOD OLE BILL!!!!!.

    September 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. NOSS

    OBAMA BRING YOUR TELEPROMPTER AND GAS PACK

    September 23, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. BK

    When you have no experience like Obama, you have to practice a a lot. Without his teleprompter Obama is lost.

    September 23, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. lol

    obama is like a lost sheep without his teleprompter. he can cram all he wants. hillary made him look foolish in the primary debates, and mccain will do the same. he isn't a "nuance" thinker, he has no platform, experience, or record to speak of. get ready for the uh-uh-uh, long winded, rambling responses from obama. mccain/palin 08!

    September 23, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  23. Len in Washington

    This approach is what we should expect from McCain. We will all be treated to another round of "shoot from the hip answers" that he will have to correct on saturday.
    I find it extremely telling that George Will this morning said that McCain is simply not the person we want in the White House. His temper and "on the fly" decisions are even turning away his most staunch supporters.

    September 23, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  24. Kel

    once again we see the stark difference in these two men.

    Obama = sound judgment

    McCain = reckless

    September 23, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. RC

    I keep waitin for mccain to say "follow the yellow brick road" He just sounds like a munchkin to me.

    September 23, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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