President Obama's aides worry he may not get enough debate prep


Two things came to mind as I read the L.A. Times article quoted at the end of this post about President Obama and Willard M. Romney preparing for the upcoming presidential debates, the first taking place on October 3rd in Denver.

One is how Romney's surrogates have absurdly called out Obama for taking time away from his presidential duties for debate prep. What? Practice? Nobody should do that! Why, getting ready for a hugely significant event that could impact the election outcome is crazy! Crazy, they tells ya! In fact, Reince Priebus said something to that effect on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos here.

But oops, hypocrisy, thy name is Team Willard:

As Democrats wind down their national convention, Mitt Romney is wrapping up several days of intense debate prep at a home in the rural woods of Vermont.

Since Tuesday, Romney and several of his senior aides have been holed up at a vacation home owned by Kerry Healey, who was Romney’s lieutenant governor in Massachusetts. All week, Romney has been doing mock debates with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who played Barack Obama for John McCain’s debate prep in 2008 and is doing the same for Romney this time around.

It’s a change of pace for the Republican presidential candidate who has made no secret of his distaste for debate preparations.

So there's that.

The second thing I noticed were the comments and tweets I've seen all over the Internets and on Twitter crawls on political Tee Vee talk shows predicting that the president will wipe the floor with Romney, and how Romney is "toast", "stick a fork in him." Not so fast.

First, he's had a whole lot of recent practice with the 29371562 GOP primary debates that preceded his official nomination. Second, he's not as bad at debating as he's being made out to be by overconfident Democrats. Lowered expectations made GW Bush look like a debate "winner" for simply not drooling on his own shoes. And third, this:

President Obama has blocked out three days to prepare for the October debates, but with the constant pressures that come with one of the world's most important jobs, aides worry he may not get enough practice at the podium. [...]

Obama has already canceled some debate preparation because of events in the Middle East, said Jen Psaki, his campaign press secretary.

"He has had to balance the management of world events, governing, time out campaigning," she said. "He'll have less time than we anticipated to sharpen and cut down his tendency to give long, substantive answers."

That's the polite way to say the former University of Chicago law professor and U.S. senator can be wordy, a concern among his aides, who believe Republican Mitt Romney will be a serious debate adversary. [...] Romney has worked on his strategy for weeks [...]

Obama's political advisors don't seem to be faking their angst about his schedule.

So, while it's great to be optimistic, it may not be wise to write off the head-to-head battles just yet. Expect the unexpected, but hope for the best.