The Politico provides a handy dandy reference guide to the first cage match presidential debate between President Mitt Romney and challenger Barack Obama…..what? Romney’s not president right now? Weird. The way the media portrays it, Mitt’s been president. Anyhow, here we go
1. Can Romney win the first half-hour? Like Obama, Romney can seem smug and prickly when challenged. He needs to go in relaxed, without memorizing his briefing book to the point of paralysis. Romney will try to trip up the president, but he needs to be as nimble as possible. Also like Obama, Romney is a good but not expert debater. He can make a mistake in a weak or unpredictable moment. And the fact that he started laying out a few new policy statements 48 hours before the debate suggests he knows tough questions are coming.
Essentially, which Romney shows up? The tough one? The one who bet Rick Perry $10k? The one who complained to the moderators about Perry taking too much time?
2. How hard will Obama attack? The president does not tend to fare as well going negative. But he has to attack.
The article notes that Obama doesn’t like Romney, which highlights that Obama takes politics personally, something we’ve seen over the years. This is something that Romney can exploit in getting Obama off his game. Romney will want to get a few zingers in to get Obama looking petty and angry, and perhaps raising his chin so that he’s looking down his nose into the camera.
3. How do “47 percent” and Libya play?
The latter will be bigger than the former, if Romney can get a chance to discuss what the administration has attempted. Will there even be an opportunity for the latter? You know the moderator will attempt to bring up the former.
4. Is Obama ready for prime time? It seems like a crazy question to ask about a man who has governed the country during one of its most tumultuous recent periods — and a guy who speaks in public nearly as much as he speaks in private. But the truth is Obama is really, really rusty when it comes to debating.
And we’ve seen how well Obama does when he is off teleprompter.
5. Who brings up Bill Clinton?
Bringing up Clinton might not be the best for Obama. While Billy Jeff certainly helped Obama during the Democratic National Convention, in the days afterwards people were able to sit back and say “hey, this Obama guy is nothing like Clinton”.
The bigger question is what happens in debate about the economy. Obama will certainly want to use his standard talking points and then deflect to personal attacks on Mitt and Bain Capital. You can bet that Mitt will have plenty of material about the economic conditions ready to go.
What are your predictions for tonight?