Both Sides Set Expectations for Presidential Debates

-By Warner Todd Huston

Both the Romney and Obama camps are attempting to lower expectations for their respective performances in the upcoming presidential debates with both saying the other has an advantage.

In a recent memo to Romney supporters, for instance, Romney adviser Beth Myers noted that the President is a “universally-acclaimed public speaker and has substantial debate experience under his belt.”

“This will be the eighth one-on-one presidential debate of his political career. For Mitt Romney, it will be his first,” Myers warned.

As for team Obama, in his memo the President’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, played the “Obama’s really busy” card trying to play down expectations that he will do well at the debates because he has a lot of duties as President that gives him less time to prepare for debates.

“The challenger, unencumbered by the responsibilities of being the President, has more time to prepare — a benefit of which Gov. Romney has taken full advantage,” Axelrod said.

Ben Shapiro noted on the 27th that Obama’s Traveling Press Secretary, Jennifer Psaki, took pains to lead the media to this narrative and since the 26th, several news outlets have dutifully echoed the “Obama’s too busy” theme in an attempt to soften the blow should Obama look weak during the debates.

The L.A. Times, for one, floated the idea that Obama is too busy being President to study for the debates.

For the Times, Christi Parsons laid the groundwork for that possible failure saying,

“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,” Parsons writes.

Among many others, The Boston Globe also plied the story line that same day and the day before, on Sept. 26, ABC News played this angle, as well.

So, both sides are trying to dampen expectations, always a good political move.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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