Elections 2012: Debate Preparation Trumps Campaigning

Obama’s political advisers promised that Tuesday’s debate will unleash his more aggressive side to prevent Mitt Romney from delivering another “magical and theatrical performance.”

Obama will meet his Republican rival heart to heart in a new round of presidential debates on Tuesday. Photo: Barack Obama/Flickr

Both candidates hunkered down in private debate preparation for much of the day as their campaigns held a pre-debate sparring match.

Obama’s aides did admit that he lost the first debate, which in the shift of the direction of a race that had favored the president but has since tightened in national and battleground state polls.

“He knows Mitt Romney had a better night at the first debate,” Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said of the president. “The American people should expect to see a much more energized President Obama.”

To respond, Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, promised that the Republican nominee would be prepared regardless of Obama’s adjustments: “The president can change his style. He can change his tactics. He can’t change his record.”

Presiden Obama spent the day in swing state Virginia, while his rival stayed in Boston-area home ahead of Tuesday’s prime-time, town hall-style debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., exactly three weeks before the Nov. 6 election, reports The Huffington Post.

The former Massachusetts governor’s advisers said Mr Romney intends to continue to moderate his message as he did in the Oct. 3 debate to broaden his appeal to the narrow slice of voters who haven’t made up their minds.

In recent days, the Republican has promised his tax plan would not benefit the wealthy, and emphasized his work with Democrats during his governorship and downplayed plans to strengthen the nation’s abortion laws.

Earlier this week he told reporters that he would not pursue abortion-related legislation if elected.

His plan contradicts last year’s pledge to the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, to cut federal funding from Planned Parenthood and support legislation to “protect unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”

“I think Mitt Romney’s performance was, indeed, magical and theatrical,” Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said of the first debate. “Magical and theatrical largely because for 90 minutes he walked away from a campaign he had been running for more than six years previous to that.”

It’s predicted that for Obama, the challenge is to be more aggressive in combating his Republican rival during the upcoming debates which can require both candidates to also show empathy with the questioner.

However, president’s campaign insisted that last time they were more focused on substance over style.

“The question is not just which candidate connects with the questioner, but who has the better policies for the American people for the next four years,” Psaki said. “On that front the president has a great advantage.”

Meanwhile, the former governor is getting prepared for the next round of the debates and he even devoted several hours to debate practice at a hotel near his suburban Boston home.

Mitt Romney, who has been setting aside time for debate practice since June, received support from his senior strategy team, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who has been playing Obama.

“I think the wind is at Gov. Romney’s back and we’re clearly on momentum,” Gillespie said. “This is going to be a close race. I knew that when we were behind in the polls. I know it now when we’re ahead in the polls.”

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