US President Barack Obama (R) greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) following the first presidential debate at Magness Arena at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. (AFP Photo)
Hunkered down at a sprawling golf resort in Virginia, President Barack Obama is muscling up his debating skills for the crucial Tuesday night confrontation with Mitt Romney. He is expected to come out “firm but respectful”, ready to call his opponent’s claims. He needs to stop Romney, who has been surging since that debate.
And Romney, who has been on a roll since, will have to hold his own in a format not apparently suited to his style — this will be a town hall debate with questions from the audience.
“It is going great,” Obama said cheerily. Obama checked into the resort — in Williamsburg — with his team on Saturday. Senator John Kerry, who ran for the White House in 2004, continues to play Romney at mock debates.
They are likely to stay there till debate. Romney is with his team at his house in Boston, with Senator Rob Portman continuing to play Obama.
Though neither will give away details from the preparations, Obama aides have said the president will be more aggressive.
“He’s going to be firm but respectful in correcting the record and the times we expect Romney will hide from and distort his own policies,” Obama campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
The President has himself said he was too polite in Denver.
Vice-President Joe Biden’s fiery performance at his debate with Paul Ryan last Wednesday is being cited as a preview of the president’s strategy. Obama tends to do well in town hall debates, with his ability to connect with people, a trait apparently missing from Romney’s portfolio. But with his poll numbers soaring and the Republican party firmly behind him, Romney is having the best time ever.
He is looking confident, perfectly at ease. Obama is likely to encounter a different Romney than the one he squared off with in Denver — this is someone getting used to winning.