For Obama and Romney, time to play 'The Debate Expectations Game' (+video)(Read article summary)
Team Obama characterizes Mitt Romney as a fantastic debater. Team Romney notes the president's public-speaking prowess. Both sides are enumerating challenges for their guy ahead of the first debate, in hopes of then exceeding expectations.
Team Obama says Mitt Romney is a fantastic debater.
Obama strategist David Axelrod, channeling former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s praise of Mr. Romney in a memo released Friday morning, hails Romney as “as good as it gets in debating. He is poised, prepared, smart, strategic.”
Just hold your horses, says Team Romney. It’s President Obama who’s the master debater. Mr. Obama is a “universally acclaimed public speaker and has substantial debate experience under his belt,” according to a memo, first reported by CNN, from Romney senior adviser Beth Myers.
In other words, both campaigns are taking care to tell the press why their candidate is going to stink up the joint next Wednesday at the first presidential debate.
Sound bizarre? That’s because it is.
Right before engaging in the exact political voodoo he’s describing, Mr. Axelrod actually states what both campaigns are doing: “Let’s be honest – both campaigns are trying to set expectations for their candidate's performances.”
If everybody was expecting Romney or Obama to turn up a C performance, the thinking goes, a B- looks pretty good – and a B+ looks great.
So how do you ratchet down expectations? You make the case that the other guy should win.