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. Scott L

    Dems have owned market oversight committee for two years....and now we are having a meltdown?

    Gas prices skyrocketing and Dems have controlled congress for two years?

    Bush has had more minorities in high level positions (colin powell and condolezza rice) more than any other President.

    How are Democrats the people's party in this election? Appears that McCain is more in the middle and looking out for our interests than anyone else.

    You people have nothing...all you complain about is cars and houses...ridiculous. Biden owns a freakin "compound" with multiple houses on it by a lake. Give me a break people...

    Vote to raise your taxes...what a dumb move.

    September 23, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. John in Ohio

    Careful planning on one side, shoot-from-the-hip maverickness on the other.

    As a skilled marksman, I can tell you that shooting from the hip is rarely very accurate.

    September 23, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. Democrat 4 Life

    Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is banning reporters from her first meetings with world leaders, allowing access only to photographers and a television crew.

    What is this? If you were not ready for the job, why did you accept? This lady is becoming a joke day by day. She won't even go head to head with Biden in the debate.

    September 23, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. stogiecarmikal

    Yeah, like the Mccain camp would really spill their guts about how they are preparing for this debate. I'll glad with this thing is over.

    September 23, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Steve - St. Louis, MO

    Hey, HEE-HAW,
    Why do you compose your messages in such an odd and annoying way?

    September 23, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Matt, MN

    I find it funny how much the obamabots want to harp on Mccain for his the route he's choosing to prepare for the first debate. This is a subject Mccain should be strong in, unlike Obama.

    Thus, Mccain shouldn't need as much time to prepare (i'm sure Mccains prep time for the 2nd and 3rd debates will be more).

    But really, why are you getting all worked up, if he has any struggle in the debate it'll give the win to Obama. Could you be getting so worked up because you know Obama has trouble when he doens't have his teleprompter there feeding him his lines? He struggled with Hillary in the primaries, he struggled in the Saddleback forums and he'll most likely struggle in the 3 debates - and thus he needs to cram in as much time as he can.

    September 23, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. lou

    jd in nc ....said there may be a small radio under mc cains coat ... i have always thought there may be a implant in his face where he had a spot removed . maybe there was no spot at all ..........they could feed him the answers... just a thought he is a cheater................

    September 23, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. wilberforce

    Me thinks McCain's "squeeze in" debate prep is just spin. They want to portray him as a man of action and decision who knows what to do and when to do it. I doubt Palin was just pulling a name out of the sky as suggested and the Reps are preparing something nasty for Obama. Keep your powder dry.

    September 23, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Nate

    I can't wait to see this... Finally the country can see the men side by side answering questions. We'll see the stark differences between the two. Hopefully any undecided voters will know what so many of us have known for quite a while now. What a better choice Obama is in this election.

    September 23, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Abdul Hamza Raziff

    Calif Obama will resture the purity of the people before Allah. This will bring peace. He is the one we have been waiting for. He is the one. No one can defeat him.

    September 23, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. GA will be blue, and so will you!

    I've already voted for Obama, debates don't matter to me. Bigger story here is will GA prevent democrats from voting on November 4th again?

    September 23, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. REG in AZ

    It is hard to have any faith in McCain when all he offers is his past total support for Bush-Cheney policies, impulsive reactions that he quickly flip-flops from, the selection of the bazaar Palin for his running mate and claiming credit for the 'surge' success. Even the 'surge' at best is questionable as while the violence is down, nothing else is accomplished and we are still paying all of the costs, plus then it is questionable as to whether the Anabar (sp?) Awakening had more to do with any reduction in the violence or if the surge would have even worked without the Awakening (where Iraqi's took responsibility in their neighborhoods). On top of all of that McCain and Palin have both demonstrated a clear propensity for dishonesty. As I say, it is hard to have any faith in the McCain-Palin ticket.

    September 23, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Aspire

    Obama better have his answers crisp, else he is toast

    September 23, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. susie

    Obama lies in his ads.

    September 23, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Republicans Hate America

    Well McCain doesnt need to practice because his answers will be POW POW POW fight fight fight. And the inbreeding rednecks will get whipped up and yee hawing and the smart people in this country will still vote for Obama. We just need to pray that there is more of the smart ones then the stupid. I wont hold my breath though.

    September 23, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Charlotte

    They only need someone to play Obama who can say, "uh, hum I a, I a, well, hum. " That about covers it. I just hope he has to answer, at least some of the questions, first.

    September 23, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. Illini

    Shawn – GA - You forgot...."Now, let's be very clear."

    September 23, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Republicans Hate America

    Its funny how everyone says Obama cant talk without teleprompters when all you see McCain do is read off of his note cards that were prepared by speech writers.......Just like Bush.

    September 23, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. S. Boatman

    Mccain Not Preparing Is A Good Insight To How He Would Lead! He Would Be Unprepared! His Decisions Would Not Be Thought Through And We Would All Suffer Because Of It! We Dont Need A Maverick To Shoot From The Hip Without Thinking! We Need A Leader That Can Think Of Multiple Solutions And Get Input From Others Before Making A Decision! Mccain Has A Decision Making Process Of. . . . Ready . . . Shoot. . . Aim! I Will Vote For Obama! I Have Confidence That He Will Think Things Through!

    September 23, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. MD

    Great! Hillary underestimated Obama, and look where she ended up. McCain, as cocky as ever, thinks he has it all wrapped up since the first debate is about national security.

    One advantage that Obama has is that the debtate is at night, when McCain's medications wear off.

    September 23, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. Jill- IN

    McCain = short generic answers followed by "can I just tell this one story..."

    September 23, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. Kathy

    How will McLiar do???? I will let you know after all his statements are fact checked, and I bet over 50% are going to be lies. Just like Nixon!!! Lie, Lie, Lie, until someone thinks you are telling the truth!

    September 23, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Independent but Leaning

    McCain is ready to lead; Obama is cramming, and this will show.

    It's going to come down to this: Will voters pick unproven, intellectual theories on liberal governmant or will they pick a fire-forged maverick that has the practical experience needed tolead this nation in difficult time.

    I am confident people see through the BS and pick the beat up silver dollar and not the shiny new penny.

    September 23, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. Give me Answers

    "Debate Camp" so if Obama gets "the 3am call" will he ask for a time out so he can study with his study group or can he make the right decision on the spot? There is no DO-OVERS, no make up test and no study camps. Obama isn't ready!!

    September 23, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. John

    Obama is good but he needs to use short sentences, avoid big words,
    and inject a bit of good-natured humor. Study Reagan.

    September 23, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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