Gibbs: Romney has advantage in debates
September 23rd, 2012
02:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Gibbs: Romney has advantage in debates

(CNN) - A senior Obama campaign adviser said Mitt Romney has a leg up on President Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential debates.

"Mitt Romney I think has an advantage, because he's been through 20 of these debates in the primaries over the last year," Gibbs said Sunday on Fox News.

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Romney and Obama face off for the first time on October 3 in Denver.

The Republican presidential nominee last took part in a debate on February 22, when CNN hosted a debate in Arizona. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were also on stage with Romney.

"Having been through this much more recently than President Obama, I think he starts with an advantage," Gibbs said.

On Air Force One on Monday, Obama campaign press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Romney was doing more preparation for the debates "than any candidate in modern history."

"They've made clear that his performing well is a make-or-break piece for their campaign," Psaki said of the Romney team's efforts.

She also alluded to one piece of Obama's debate preparation confirmed last weekend by David Axelrod, a campaign senior adviser.
"He's got to speak shorter, that's all," Axelrod told Reuters. "He just hasn't had to do that for the last four years, so that's a part of the discipline of preparing for these debates."

While the Democratic convention was going on earlier this month, Romney spent several days off the campaign trail to prepare for the debates.

The Republican presidential nominee said he expects his biggest obstacle will be the degree of Obama's accuracy during the showdowns.

"I think the challenge that I'll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren't true," Romney said September 14 on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who was on Romney's short list of potential running mates, was tapped to play the role of Obama in debate practice for Romney. Portman also assumed the same role in 2008 during Sen. John McCain's run against Obama.

Asked if Romney had a difficult time in his first couple of rounds of preparation, Romney said he would not reveal "those kind of secrets."

"But I will never debate Rob Portman again," Romney said, laughing.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Presidential Debate • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    That was minor league ball, Mr. Gibbs. Romney has already demonstrated he doesn't have the right stuff for the majors.

    September 23, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  2. Peace

    Am not interested in debates it will be just only talks. What I want to see is more of Romney's Tax Returns. Debates will not make me trust Romney but Tax Returns will do!

    September 23, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. onlyfacts

    Its not just the candidates answers in the debates, but the moderators follow-ups. When Romney lies, as we know he will, he better be asked to clarify! And he should be made aware of the facts at that time, not after the debate. Just like politicians, the mderators are going to worry more about their personal rating more than getting the honest truth out of the questions. What a wonderful world we live in.

    September 23, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. Dnc

    If the Pinnochio effect were real, Gibbs' nose would be as long as his leg.....

    September 23, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    As a spectator I like the way Obama team play this game
    This month Romney couldn’t move the ball “three and out." Called
    Now Romney team running out of time and they have to wait for turn over (bad news)

    As a voter no more hopes for four more years

    September 23, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Romney sure dose ,
    a secret five point economic plan , so secret if he told you , he would have to kill you !

    September 23, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. John Oboho

    50 of such debates does not equate on the job experience which Obama have.Obama will be better in the debates.

    September 23, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. insight iowa

    Wow... 200. really. surprised. he still sounds like he is confused and lost. he has proven to me this past year that he is not capable of the highest office in this great nation. now or ever. republican voting straight dem ticket.

    September 23, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. LibertyQueen

    Robme couldn't win a debate with a tumbleweed. We don't need two wo man hat ing mor ons... opps, morman. Obama has published 11 tax returns, Robme has only published two and he claims to have intentionally paid more taxes by not claiming his total charitable contributions on his late filing of his just published 2011 tax return. Thing is, he can file an amendment and claim the charitable deductions after the election and get a refund on his disengenuous over-payment. Obama is an excellent debater and will kick robme's posterior.

    September 23, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Bean There

    Obama's inaccuracy vs Romney's lack of empathy for middle class America...hmm decisions decisions.

    I think I'll stay with the guy that has my best interests in mind regardless of whether I'm funding his campaign

    September 23, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. anonoymous

    Seems like Romney is his on worst enemy. That and his big fat mouth!

    September 23, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. bb

    President Obama is a master at debating and how long ago since the last time that he has debated anybody does not matter. It's like learning to ride a bicycle, you never forget. Romney is the one who should be nervous due to fact he will have to give account for all the lies that he has told.

    September 23, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Tish

    I think they are trying to down play this because they know Obama is going to smoke Mitt. It's going to be a trouncing for sure. Mark my words.

    September 23, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  14. Catmandew

    Mitt you are the man and you will beat Obama in the debates and win the election! All you have to do is make Obama show how his agenda has worked out for USA and remind him of all his first like our downgraded credit rating and the other things he has done!

    September 23, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Pete

    Romney does have a advantage in the debates,he's a Mormon which states in their religion they're taught how to lie for protecting their lord as well as themselves,how did you think he has got this far in life,not on his looks,but plenty of corporate money right!!But it'll all unfold when he has to explain in detail just some of those lies,he's never had to do that before, then game over Romney your damage controlling staff can't help you now,the gigs up!!

    September 23, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Road Ready

    Come on Willard; puff up and take the bait.

    September 23, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. annette

    i seriously don't think mitt will remember anything from his last 20 debates with newt,cain,rpaul,santorum,perry. as i remember those debates – mitt did nothing but blame, bash and lied plus never mentioned what he would do as a leader to get this country back.

    September 23, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." --B. Obama

    He has an advantage because the uhbama has been such a failure at everything. The uhbama has been absolutely clueless these past 3 1/2 years. The debates will be hilarious when Romney destroys the uhbama.

    September 23, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Kenric

    Lmao at Romney accusing anyone of random falsehoods.

    September 23, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: Mittens 47% ... Veterans, grandma and the disabled are all moochers!

    The advantage President Obama has is the truth, something Mittens seems incapable of. Also, President Obama works for 100% of Americans and has not written off those who don't agree with him as moochers.

    Show us your tax returns, Mittens!

    September 23, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. Catmandew

    Go get em MITT make Obama look like the poor excuse of a PRESIDENT he has proven himself to be!

    September 23, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |