President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney share a laugh at the end of the first presidential debate in Denver. (Reuters)
With his hopes of a second term under threat, US President Barack Obama will seek to summon fresh energy Tuesday to thwart Mitt Romney’s momentum in their crucial second debate.
On Tuesday morning, he left the golf course where he prepared for the debate amid a barrage of advice, the foremost being not to “overreact and overcompensate” for the Denver debacle. And second, don’t behave like a bully.
VP Joe Biden had come across to some as a bully as he sought to dominate his debate with Paul Ryan. That didn’t sit well even with Democrats. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is being advised mostly on stagecraft. The campaign believes the candidate is good on what he has to say. He just needs to work on how to say it.
The second debate happening Tuesday in Hofstra University, New York, will follow a town hall format with candidates answering questions from voters. Obama does well in this format. Romney is being advised not to walk away from questioners while answering. Rather, he should lean forward to show he is having a conversation.
Obama has been advised to watch out for surprises. Romney did that in Denver — taking the president off-guard with his claims on hiring of teachers and tax cuts, for instance.
On the eve of the debate, a dramatic intervention from Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former bitter Democratic Party foe and now his secretary of state, may have defused one of Romney’s most damaging attacks.
Clinton said she — and not Obama or VP Joe Biden — bore responsibility for any security lapses before the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11.
Romney and his vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan have claimed that the Benghazi raid, and the administration’s shifting accounts of it, are symptomatic of an “unravelling” of Obama’s foreign policy.
Obama was likely to be cross-examined on Libya in Tuesday’s debate, but the statement by Clinton may have given him badly needed room for manoeuver.