Obama will be cramming for the Wednesday debate at Lake Las Vegas, a resort community in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. Aides said heâ€™ll keep a low profile while working on his somewhat rusty skills with a full team of aides and advisors.
As the president settled into debate camp, his aides worked to lessen expectations for the session, to be held in Denver. For days, each campaign has been puffing up its opponent’s debate talent and downplaying its candidateâ€™s skills, all in an attempt to set a low bar.
Obamaâ€™s campaign on Sunday pounced quickly on the reports that Romney was looking to turn in a performance heavy with zingers. And, alluding to New Jersey Gov.Â Chris Christieâ€™s comment Sunday that Romney would try to â€œresetâ€ the campaign during the first debate, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president wasnâ€™t looking to showy one-liners but had more modest goals of continuing the conversations heâ€™s been having with voters.
“I will say the president and Mitt Romney clearly look at the debates as a very different opportunity,â€ Psaki said. â€œThis will be a very large audience. He wants to speak directly to the families of people who are on their couches at home, having snacks, drinking a beer, drinking soda, whatever it is, and tuning in for the first time. That’s who he is speaking directly to.â€
Psaki noted that the president hasnâ€™t gotten in as much preparation time as he would have liked, thanks to the events in the Middle East and his rigorous campaign schedule. She also acknowledged the presidentâ€™s struggle for brevity: A former law professor, the president often sounds like one. As a sitting president who hasnâ€™t had to share the stage for four years, heâ€™s had to work on watching the clock.
â€œIt is something he is well aware of, and his team has pointed out to him that he needs to work on tightening and shortening his answers,â€ Psaki told reporters on the flight from Washington to Las Vegas. â€œHe understands what the format of the debate is and, as I mentioned before, the team prepping him has watched many debates that Mitt Romney has done where heâ€™s been very disciplined with sharp, tight answers.â€
As he prepares over the next few days, Obama will be surrounded by a full team of top policy and communication advisors, including chief of staff Jack Lew, economic advisorÂ Gene Sperling, political advisor David Plouffe, campaign advisorÂ David AxelrodÂ and strategist Anita Dunn. Sen. John Kerry, (D-Mass.) will be playing the part of Romney during mock debates.