Team Obama: Don’t Expect Debate ‘Zingers’
By: CNN’s Ashley Killough
(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.”
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.