Team Obama: Don't expect debate 'zingers' from president
September 30th, 2012
05:05 PM ET
10 years ago

Team Obama: Don't expect debate 'zingers' from president

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election campaign said Sunday the president likely won't be flinging barbs during this week's presidential debate.

"If you're expecting that, that's probably not what he's going to deliver," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One. "He's speaking directly to the American people, and what they want to hear is what his plan is for moving the country forward."

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Psaki was referring to reports that the president's opponent, Mitt Romney, was "working on zingers" and memorizing short attack lines to fire off at the president during Wednesday's debate in Denver, the first presidential showdown this cycle.

Her comments came as the president flew to Nevada, where he holds a rally in Las Vegas Sunday night before staying off the trail and in debate preparation for the final few days leading up to the event in Denver.

Psaki added the president's focus will be more trained on the audience at home than his competitor on stage.

"This will be a very large audience. He wants to speak directly to the families, the people on their couches at home, having snacks, drinking a beer, drinking a soda, whatever it is, and tuning in for the first time. And that's who he's speaking directly to," she said.

Continuing to lower expectations - a game both campaigns have played for well over a week - Psaki added Obama's White House duties have limited his debate preparation, saying it's "difficult to schedule significant blocks of time when you're the president."

As part of his practice, however, Psaki said the debate team has been watching debates that date back years, including Romney's face-offs with Republicans and Democrats. They note Romney's experience, especially in the Republican primary this year, has trained the candidate to perform well.

"(Romney) has been disciplined and been able to give short answers, so we know that's a strength," Psaki said, adding that Obama on the other hand has a "tendency to give longer substantive answers."

She continued to set the bar high for Romney, saying the Republican nominee and "his team have been clear, what they need, what they expect from the debates is a game-changing performance."

Asked why Obama was holding his debate prep in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Psaki said Nevada was a "key state for us" and pointed to the early voting start date of October 20.

Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. Name alex

    President Obama is not a cronic lier.I think the American public will notice. Romney thinks people are lazy and stupid.

    October 1, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. TJ

    I for one will dont care if he did not win the debate. I will never vote for Romney...........

    October 1, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  3. Bill

    Obama wont debate. He doesnt answer questions. He sidesteps questions.

    October 1, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. GI Joe

    No applause allowed, so Mitt will not know how he is doing -- which will cause him to change (flip) more than one time. No feed-back makes him nuts. Mitt craves crowd adoration to keep him moving.

    President Obama is correct. Mittins is silly ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    October 1, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. hv19006

    Guess it's tough to find the time to prep for the debate when you have to appear on The View

    October 1, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. GonzoinHouston

    Let's hope neither of them tries to be funny. Obama has lousy comedic timing and Romney has lousy taste in humor.

    October 1, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    Obama is afraid that if he hits Flip with any zingers, he might go over the edge. Queen Ann is so concerned for his health, he's getting some pity from the president

    October 1, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. jpmichigan

    Obama and his administration credibility is already shot. He takes no accoutablity for his and his administrations actions . His speeches are filled with nothing maore than rhetoric , promises the same as he did in 2008, and deliverered vey little on those promises. Only ones benefited by his actions sre the unions, friends and donors. He is the spending King of DC, this is what the Democrats wanted , and this is what they got. Lacking in governing, leadership and judgement, do you want the same for the next 4 years, then vote Obama.

    October 1, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. ShawnDH

    Obama doesn't need zingers. He can talk about his record, his ideas moving forward and his values...all of which Romney lacks. Romney needs zingers because basically, Americans don't like him or his secretive ideas.

    October 1, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. Stoney

    There will be no zingers because there will be no teleprompters.

    October 1, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. Ancient Texan

    The big question is really; will Obama speak in a quiet, conversational tone, or YELL at us like he does in ALL of his campaign speeches? Also will he tell us the truth, or sidestep the question with his usual pie-in-the sky answers.

    October 1, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  12. simp

    What I find amazing is romeny the liar said in an interview that the President does not always tell the truth and he was going to call the President out on that in the debates. Now last time I looked romney the liar was the one telling the out and out lies so I can't wait to see what lies the President is suppose to have told, as opposed to all the lies romney and ryan have told.

    October 1, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. Russ in Md

    If the liberal media actually asks a challenging question to Obama he is screwed. The reason for no zingers is because he can't do an actual debate. Everything he says is pure scripted answers. Need an example: Look how he flopped when asked about his promise for immigration reform. The stuttering was comical.

    October 1, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. lyn

    GOD BLESS OUR PRESIDENT OBAMA for having him as our LEADER, President Obama will always be be there for ALL Americans, not like Romney throwing 47 % of us whom he class as VICTIMS under the bus.

    October 1, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. simp


    No matter what this President does it idiots like you that tries to find something wrong with it. What dumb remark did you sprew out of your pie hole when romney was vacationg with his family showing off there waterfront home and yachts? Yeah just as i thought, nothing clown!!

    October 1, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    What would be the point of a zinger? Mitt will do the job for him, with his fumbling, foot-in-mouth reposnses that further demonstrate that only thing he cares about are his family, their money, and whatever pet or dressage horse he can tow along as a prop. Adam Smith, the godfather of Capitalism, said that the money-making calss could not be trusted with governing since the good of the nation and what is good for business don't always coincide.

    October 1, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. FLIndependent

    @Anonymous – "Christie doesn't think very highly of the intelligence of American voters, does he? Then again, neither Romney or Ryan think very highly of America voters either. Can't ever remember voting for a presidential candidate whom I felt was talking down to me. Romney and Ryan do just that – talk down. When they aren't completely laughing at Americans behind our backs, that is. Thankfully, both have been exposed as the jerks they truly are BEFORE the election. Can't even begin to imagine what these two thought they would get away with AFTER the election. We'll never know and THAT is the best thing yet for America."

    I totally agree and isn't is funny since Mittens became the nominee we no longer hear that President Obama is an elitist! Mittens is the epitome of elitism. Also, the teleprompter things seems to have gone by the wayside – there are such hypocrites on the Republican side. Let's hope the moderate ones with common sense will get out and vote for the man they know has their back – President Barack Obama!

    October 1, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. Tree

    Sick of people(some) talking about our President. You know this man has BEEN to HELL and BACK and still standing with his head high. He has been called every name but the child of GOD. This is a shame. The President is a good President. He is for the people. All of the name calling will not work. This is the kind of person I want in the White House someone who stands TALL He is a class act....... because alot of people can not do this. This comes from the heart. I do believe that he is for the people. Romney is another story.............If he lose the debate (which i don;t think he will), he still got my VOTE......

    October 1, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. rs

    The biggest problem for Mr. Obama will be wringing some measure of either specificity or truth from Mr. Romney if these men are really to discuss issues. If this becomes merely a time-delimited philosophical debate club session (like speed chess, only boring), then nothing is going to be discovered. Hopefully the moderators will hold both candidates' feet to the fire, especially if the "whoppers" begin to fly.

    October 1, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. eroteme

    No 'zingers' but maybe Team Obama would like Obama to ask Romney how it feels like to be a murderer and a felon.

    October 1, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. ghostriter

    Gotta work late that nite, but I will record this. I've recorded all the republican debates this year. Putting together a gag reel. $49.99 for the Funniest Election Season Ever DVD. Act now and we'll throw in some clips from 2008.

    But seriously, at some point, Mitt is gonna have to lay down some real facts. And that is when the wheels fall off. All economic predictors point to improvement over the past 4 years. Several republican governors are running with those facts as we speak, including Wisconsin's Walker and Ohio's Kasich. It was a really stupid idea years ago to run on the economy. It worked in 2010, but now hoping that the economy would still be weak enough to garner support 2 years later just was a bad bet. But probably the only game republicans could play. Well, besides the entitlement gambit.

    October 1, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. jb1963

    mitt can only use zingers. He has no ideas to speak of only talking points.

    October 1, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  23. Abe Lincoln

    There will be no zingers because Obama has no zing. He is a flat tire on a broken down wagon, driven into the ditch by arrogance and bad policy.

    October 1, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. jb1963

    Mitt was born with a silver spoon in his hand and his foot in his mouth.

    October 1, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. Abe Lincoln

    Romney and the Republican party (my party) are America`s only hope for recovery and success.

    October 1, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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