Campaigns offer last minute spin ahead of debate
October 3rd, 2012
10:14 AM ET
10 years ago

Campaigns offer last minute spin ahead of debate

(CNN) – In a spate of expectation-setting ahead of Wednesday night's debate, both campaigns offered their predictions for the first meeting between the two presidential candidates, with President Barack Obama's team arguing the first session between the candidates will be about laying details before voters, and Team Romney looking for unfiltered access to those who remain undecided.

Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, appearing on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," said the candidate who offers specifics in the debate will ultimately be named the winner.

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"At the end of the day, I think that the winner is going to be declared by the American people based on what these two candidates say and who lays out a vision for the future. Some specifics and policy details," Cutter said.

In a memo distributed earlier in the day, Cutter wrote that so-called "zingers" would not determine who voters see as coming out on top.

"Instead, they're going to pick the winner on substance," she wrote. "They're looking for the candidates to lay out specific, concrete policies to move this country forward, not back to the same policies that created the crisis in the first place and punished the middle class. Tonight provides an opportunity for both President Obama and Mitt Romney to do that."

Both Obama and Romney's campaigns have been attempting to tamp down on expectations ahead of the first presidential debate, hoping the lower bar will fuel the appearance that each candidate has surpassed expectations when the debate concludes.

Cutter did her part in playing the expectations game Wednesday, saying she thought the "expectations are probably working a little bit against us and more for Mitt Romney right now."

Barbara Comstock, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign, also offered a debate prediction on "Starting Point," saying the event would give Romney a chance to speak to voters without the filter of the media.

"This will be the opportunity for Mitt Romney to talk directly to the American people without that filter and tell them about his plan for the next four years," she said.

The mainstream press, Comstock said, was already poised to give the trophy to Obama.

"I think the press will probably - no matter what happens - they can already write their stories, many of the mainstream press," she said.

"They've been cheerleading for Barack Obama for weeks now and I think they'll continue, but I'm not concerned about that," Comstock continued.

And Brett O'Donnell, a former debate adviser to Romney, added the GOP candidate "has to make the debate about the president's economic policies and he's gotta connect those to the economic conditions we're in now."

"Right now, people believe the economy is bad, but they're not blaming the president for it," O'Donnell said on "Starting Point." "Tonight, Governor Romney - while standing face to face with President Obama - has to connect those two things."

O'Donnell warned both candidates against becoming defensive, as "both of them, when they are put on their heels, tend to make mistakes."

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Presidential Debate
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. LegalizeReason

    Mitt, don't forget to bring all of those tax returns, and not just your hired tax guns summary of them, as they are the price of admission.

    October 3, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Borderless

    Obama logic: Decries big business as evil and claims to support the workers. Offers big business federal money not to give workers adequate notice they are going to be laid off.

    I guess the most important thing to Obama is Obama.

    October 3, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  3. Anonymous

    So, after tonight's debate, are we gonna see the real polling numbers, or is the media going to continue it's ratings games 4 more weeks? This has been the most awful presidential election coverage ever. It started in January and hasn't let up yet, giving middle class America a very good idea where we place in this horse race ... dead last.

    Thank you Mitt Romney for continuing to prove just how devastating you would be to America. It's been nothing but useless Mitt Romney taking points repeated ad nauseum for one full year. Dude never did intend on being a serious candidate and the media allowed him to get away with his snarky drivel month after month. No stoping him now, eh, CNN.

    October 3, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Four and The Door

    And Brett O'Donnell, Romney's debate coach, added his candidate "has to make the debate about the president's economic policies and he's gotta connect those to the economic conditions we're in now."
    It should not be difficult to show what America would look like after 3 1/2 years under an Obama Administration. We are living it. It is not working. It is a bad deal for the middle class and a bad deal for Americans in the future. Washington has become a dysfunctional partisan political zoo. Americans deserve better than this. Romney/ Ryan 2012.

    October 3, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Thomas

    I would suggest that the Romney campaign not use the " Mission Accomplished Banner " after tonights debate .

    That might remind some of his similarities to a past President .

    October 3, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. sugar

    I'm already popping the popcorn. This should be better than Man vs. Wild.

    October 3, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  7. Larry in Houston

    I hope Ohio gets it right – (otherwise, they will have a "blemish" on their record) A republican has never won the white house without winning Ohio.

    May the Best Man Win.

    Vote Democrat – 2012 – Hillary 2016 – ( for the "working" middle class making under 75K per yr, per household)

    October 3, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. judy

    romney the guy who put his dog on top of the car this is the guy you want? If he used poor judgement on a dog what will he do for the 53% of the people he likes . The 47% are on their own. Trust worthy . The man lies and flip flops all over the place. He says what each audience wants to hear. He can't run his own campaign and had to borrow money. What will he do for the country besides making rich people richer.Forward

    October 3, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Borderless

    John King says it's all about trust for Romney. Let's look at trust for Obama for a moment. This is the man who was caught on an open mic telling the Russian prime minister, "This is my last election. After my election I will have a lot more flexibility." This is the man who claimed to be against big business and greed and corruption yet he's offering tax payer dollars to big business to enable them to break the law at the expense of their workers. This is the man who promised to close GITMO and yet nothing has changed and he has put absolutely no effort into it. The list goes on and on. As president, Obama has a long list of promises broken and trust betrayed. Can we just please not reward him with another four years? Remember. "After this election, I will have a lot more flexibility." He is already telling other world leaders he will violate our trust.

    October 3, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. Indy

    Too bad they couldn't hook up a lie detector to Mitts, but then again there are too many things blowing up on TV these days

    October 3, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |

    Well Stephanie my love, specifics requires getting into MATH, and Paul Ryan has implicitely said he'll not get into that and Willard will not tell us which deductions he'll end. So the President should win hands down.

    October 3, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. WiredWeirdinSF

    I understand the NYT and the rest of the liberally biased media already has the stories written about how Hussein wins. The phony Nobel Prize winner epitomizes the corruption endemic in the process. I know it is impossible, but wouldn't it make it interesting if the Republicans would lower themselves to steal votes and lie and all of the other corrupt practices of democrat liberals. Unfortunately, Republicans have morals and may never win another political contest from the immoral democrat liberals.

    October 3, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. rosejean goddard

    I enjoy the drama about the candidates AND the upcoming debate. Our journalists are keeping the discussion interesting and compelling. Thank you.

    October 3, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. Pander Express

    The debate will be an opportunity to hear the ideas of two different candidates with completely different stands on the issues. They are both named Mitt Romney.

    October 3, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. MrBeenThere

    It's gonna be had for Mitt to remember what he said last week since he has a different position on any subject from day to day..........

    October 3, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. MrBeenThere

    Building Trust is going to be a hard one for Mitt since at a early age his own Religion teaches him it's OK to get ahead.............

    October 3, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. mactsr

    " candidate who offers specifics in the debate will ultimately be named the winner."

    Willard please give us the specifics of how you are goiing lead us to war. Are you going to have your sons in the military? Have Romney's even serviced in the military? I understand you refused military service because of your religion. So why do you want to go to war now? Are you going to raise taxes to pay for our little adventure or is this another war charged to future generations.

    October 3, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. Four and The Door

    I can't wait to see Team Obama try and spin after the debate. Let's face it, this is the first time Obama will be held accountable for the poor performance of his ideology and his inability to lead. This is what we have been waiting for. 2010 was just a dress rehearsal. This is the big show. Let's do this thing!

    October 3, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. usa

    The video that was just released exposing Obama to be racist and divisive is not a "conservative media" video – it's an "Obama" video. It's all in his own words. This is news that should have been covered before the 2008 election – on all media outlets. Why does CNN want to protect one candidate over another?? It's wrong and not unbiased journalism. The American people are not stupid, and the young voters who fell for his jargon last time are older and wiser this time around. Too much is at stake – his rhetoric will only take him so far... and it has actually come back to bite him.

    October 3, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. julie

    no one has any idea what mitt will say I don't think he can remember what side he was last on the flip side or flop he likes the AHC not goint to repeal as he once said.......none the less this should be good TV.....

    can anyone tell me do they use FACTS in debates I mean really or is this going to be those tv ads regurgiated ..hope not

    anyway I've got my wine and cheese ready for this.........hoping Obama K.O's mitt

    October 3, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. GI Joe

    We've already seen that 2007 movie dozens of times. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    I want to know 2 things:

    Why were Bush/Cheney never tried for war crimes, and

    Will SaC (voter fraud by republicans) be brought up for Congressional hearings like ACORN was.

    October 3, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. GI Joe

    What Ryan and Romney don't tell you is that people in the red states TAKE MORE THAN THEY MAKE, AND ALWAYS HAVE. Top in welfare, top in obesity, bottom in education, bottom in healthcare. RED STATES.

    October 3, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |