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. Hugh Jass

    SuperD, we obviously knew within minutes that a bunch of fools had been whipped into protesting in front of the embassy in order to cover a commando group which invaded the embassy and shot the one man who had enough pull with the Libyans to stop the riot. What we know and what we say officially are not always the same thing, and that's called 'diplomacy.' All you are saying to us is that you don't understand diplomacy and hate the President enough to help embolden our enemies, right?

    October 1, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. rob


    "Unfortunately all that Americans can understand are zingers. Our national I.Q. gets lower with each passing election"

    Unfortunately the Dems and their friends in the media are counting on exactly that.

    October 1, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Howard

    The best part of all of this is that all the divisiveness that many of you are portraying is coming hurt many of your feeling come November. Romney may put up a good fight but we all know in the end he'll be preparing his concession speech just like McCain did early into the night. So you can either accept it and help rebuild the country or be miserable in your own sorrows. The truth is the Republicans in all their glory of the old days haven't had a candidate that can touch base with the American people. You tried with the Tea Party, came to be more of a fad then a movement and many of those TP's in Congress won't be there much longer. Some maybe, but by midterms, they'll be gone too. Enjoy the ride.

    October 1, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Bev

    i'm hoping that romney can turn things around i agree with his 47% remark i live across from a lady that is on welfare because she says that she can not work she has 2 cars not 1 & she power shops everyday can carry is 4 big bags of whatever she bought but can't work she would never vote for someone who actually might want her to find a job

    October 1, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Cogito

    Without Gary Johnson & Jill Stein on stage, the debates will be nothing more than an infomercial.

    The Commission on Presidential Debates is a joint-effort of the Democratic & Republican National Parties, and as such, the CPD is nothing but a bunch of hacks for the two parties that got us where we are today...

    The CPD is not interested in providing a forum to debate the best ideas or provide as much information as possible to the American public (their self-professed mission), they are only interested in promoting Obamney and keeping everyone else out.

    October 1, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    Tony in St. Louis

    Our President shouldn't have to lower his standards to debate romney.

    I agree. BUT, this is exactly what the media wants him to do. As for Romney? Romney thinks Mitt Romney is going to be able to bring all Mitt Romney's flips and Mitt Romney's flops to the table and make a cohesive counter attack against Mitt Romney and everything Romney has himself said for the past 6 years or so by using his magic Etch a Sketch as a prop.

    October 1, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. rob

    And another thing, if anyone wants to see what the media in this country used to be, look up the Univision video of President Obama's interview. They asked very serious and tough questions. Then they followed up with more probing questions forcing the president to actually answer them. His answers and more importantly his attempted non-answers were very revealing. The Main Stream so called "Journalists" were actually surprized by it.

    Imagine, asking a sitting Dem President tough questions?

    October 1, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. IndeePendant

    I wonder why but more Romney people are crying in these columns and comments than that of Obama's... hmmm....

    October 1, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Don't expect "Zinger"...

    Wish hard enough and wishes have a way to come "True" There will be three's been said that wishes come in three....Three strikes and Obama is Out....

    October 1, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. Jerry

    Since this story is posted next to a honey boo boo, maybe we could get some worldy advice from her, probably be more insightful than he will talk to the people.

    October 1, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Mittens spent the entire GOP primary bragging and strutting around like a plutocrat peacock, claiming he would wipe the floor with Obama in the debates. It continued on into the summer as he secured the nomination. Now, when the showdown is in the offing, he's playing the game of lowering expectations. Watching him get his hat handed to him and then shoving all his bragging down his throat is going to be a big bowl of schadenfreude ambrosia. Nom nom nom....

    October 1, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Ed1

    Right and the private sector is doing just fine too.

    Obama is doing nothing but turning this Country into another Third World Country move over Spain and Greece we are right behind you and soon will be where you are right now.

    October 1, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Paul

    Let's drop it. Obama won the election. Let's start talking about the fiscal cliff shall we?

    October 1, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. LBF

    Got to love it "P". Since Obama won in 2008 by a wide margin, guess there are plenty of "fools'. Perhaps if the Republicans stopped alienating Obama supporters by calling us stupid and start telling us why Romney is any better maybe they would win. Romney is just what floated to the top of a very bad field of candidates. Why are all his plans secret? My guess he doesn't want to say anything of substance because then he will be held accountable.

    October 1, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    truth hurts

    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."
    Oh really??!!! He sure hasn't had a difficult time reserving time for hundreds of campaign fund raisers and campaign events for well over a year now. Then of course there are the numerous rounds of golf and vacations and talk show appearances. Is there ANYTHING this guy will not lie about?!
    Your boy seems more interested in doing fundraisers and doing a light schedule of campiagn rallies instead of making his case in urban areas? Why si that? Is it because he has no intention of appealing to those who are not of his class? Romney got clobbered in the primaries when he was forced to go into areas ( like AL, MS) wherehe knew he could not appeal: unfortunately for him, the areas he won are areas he knows he can't carry in the general. So, what is his plan? More fundraisers, debate prep, etc. He's done

    October 1, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Beverly - NYC

    So the businessman CEO has to resort to zingers, is he running for POTUS, or President of Def Comedy Jam?

    October 1, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. patricia cala

    I listened to the Public Radio, Forum, this morning and the guest speaker concluded that Romney would win the 3 debates and get a good enough bounce from them.

    October 1, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. rs

    truth hurts-

    I dunno, I remember a certain Republican House getting quite a throttling from Mr. Obama a couple of years ago. I think Mr. Obama does quite well in a Q & A forum while mr. Romney's handlers have to take back what he says in public.

    October 1, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Zingers? Romney isn't going to give Obama hell. Romney is just going to tell the truth. Obama will think it is hell.
    Some of you are ignoring the situation in the country. Better take a good look.

    October 1, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Phil in KC

    Too bad. I would enjoy some good zingers against Romney. I don't think Christie did Romney any favors on the Sunday morning talk shows. He basically said that Romney needed a very strong debate performance and that he would deliver. Instead of playing down expectations, he raised the bar. I think Obama's people have the right tack on this.

    October 1, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    -Ray E. (Georgia)

    Zingers? Romney isn't going to give Obama hell. Romney is just going to tell the truth. Obama will think it is hell.
    Some of you are ignoring the situation in the country. Better take a good look.
    Oh cute. Now you're paraphrasing Harry Truman. Romney is like Dewey, because he is campaigning with the same arrogance. The difference this time is that the polls are accurate, and no amount of complaining about over-sampling, etc, can disguise the fact that Romney is losing. Just because you think your aristocrat is entitled to the job does not make it so...and look who is waiting in the wings.....Santorum? Ryan? Terrific, someone who would ensure the GOp becomes a regional party for a generation, and a man who has never spent a day as an adult in the private sector. The GOP will continue to cough up the presidency no matter how much money the Koch-heads spend.

    October 1, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. curious

    We all know what Romney's hope and dreams are, so maybe we will know hear exactly how he plans to achieve all those promises, in debate..

    October 1, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. lolo

    The president needs to toss out zingers, but he has too much class, he will just sit back and let old Romneyhood hang himself. People quit trying to get through to the KKK. They are voting for Mittens no matter that he lies, cheat, flips-flops on a dime or just plain clueless. Faux News and Limbaugh have there noses wide open and they believe every word without doing their own research. Just get out there and vote Democratic across the board. The GOP/TP are too ashamed to admit that they picked the wrong one. It is tough to admit you were wrong because it it tough eating crow a million times over. Nobody is voting for Mitt the misfit, but his misfit followers period. He has them fooled but not the rest of us. Also his own wife is worried about his mental state (words from her own mouth). Go figure. Both of them are just creepy people.

    October 1, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. selena

    well i do not care what they say because they can not wup me and you can tell them that i said that

    October 1, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. lolo

    @ Tom Paine. You are correct and I agree with you. I have not seen Romneyhood in one urban area or a poor neighborhood in the south. They can't say that there are not any in the south, because that would be a lie. So who is he pandering to? No one but the rich of course and they are fed up with his campaign, because he has let the cat out of the bag about there true feelings for the poor and middle class.

    October 1, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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