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Obama focusing on brevity during debate preparations

September 17, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • President Obama campaigns at Eden Parks Seasongood Pavilion in Cincinnati.
President Obama campaigns at Eden Parks Seasongood Pavilion in Cincinnati. (Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo )

It appears that President Obama is well aware of critiques that he’s long-winded, with his campaign making his characteristically drawn-out answers a focus of his preparations for the upcoming presidential debates, which begin Oct. 3.

Obama, who will face off against Republican nominee Mitt Romney in three debates in October, has had less practice time than Romney has enjoyed so far, aides say. Romney participated in 20 debates during the Republican primaries, and had a sizable amount of preparation earlier this month.

“We know that Romney and his team have seemed to prepare more than any candidate in modern history,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday during a discussion with reporters on Air Force One. “They’ve made it clear that his performing well is a make-or-break piece for their campaign.”

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Obama, largely occupied by the responsibilities of the Oval Office and a rigorous campaign schedule, is trying to make up for that deficit by studying up on his opponent and his policies during travels on Air Force One and open moments at the White House, according to Reuters. Obama's stand-in for Romney during his practice debates is former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Part of the preparatory process his campaign is placing particular emphasis on is stepping up the brevity of Obama’s responses.

“He’s got to speak shorter, that’s all,” chief campaign strategist David Axelrod told Reuters. “He just hasn’t had to do that for the last four years, so that’s a part of the discipline of preparing for these debates.”

Romney, in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Friday, said he will have to overcome what he called Obama tendency to “how shall I say it, to say things that aren’t true,” adding that his surrogate for Obama, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), has been a rigorous practice opponent.

The debates begin in Denver with a focus on domestic policy, moving to a town hall in Hempstead, N.Y., on Oct. 16 on various topics and then a foreign policy-focused faceoff in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 22.

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