In what has become a quadrennial ritual, President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s aides are doing their best to lower expectations for their bosses’ performances at next week’s scheduled debate in Denver.
On Thursday, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki and White House press secretary Jay Carney were laying it on thick for reporters. Asked by a reporter aboard Air Force One about the worst thing that could happen, Psaki offered this rejoinder: “Well, he could fall off the stage.”
Meanwhile, Romney senior adviser Beth Myers argued on Thursday in a memo to surrogates, obtained by USA TODAY, that Obama is the clear favorite in the debates.
“This will be the eighth one-on-one presidential debate of his political career,” Myers wrote of the president “For Mitt Romney, it will be his first.”
Myers also noted in the memo that Obama is a “universally-acclaimed public speaker.”
Obama aides have argued that Romney sharpened his skills through 20 debates during the GOP primary season.
“I will just take this opportunity to say that Mitt Romney on the other hand has been preparing earlier and with more focus than any presidential candidate in modern history–not John F. Kennedy, not President Bill Clinton, not President George Bush, not Ronald Reagan has prepared as much as he has,” Psaki said. “So there’s no question that he will have a lead on how prepared he is.”
Carney, who covered the 2008 debates as a journalist for Time magazine, argued on Thursday that then-Sen. Barack Obama was underwhelming in his bouts with Sen. John McCain.
“I mean, if you just look at the assessment of the debates in 2008, that Barack Obama became the nominee of his party, in some ways in spite of his debate performances, and Mitt Romney became the nominee of his party because of them,” Carney said.
Myers, however, notes in her memo, that according to polling by Gallup, voters judged Obama “the winner of each debate by double-digit margins, and their polling showed he won one debate by an astounding 33-point margin.”