Recent John Locke Foundation election preview panelist Byron York devotes his latest Washington Examiner column to President Obama’s preparations for his second debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Early Monday morning, on the eve of Debate Two, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina sent out a long memo to reporters headlined “The Real Romney, Translated.” The memo focused on nine statements Romney made during the first debate, plus a few from running mate Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate. After each statement, Messina offered “translations” explaining what the GOP candidates really meant.
For example, quoting Romney’s vow that he “will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families,” Messina made the case that Romney will simply have to do so to pay for his tax-cut proposal. Quoting Romney’s promise to “bring people together and get the job done,” Messina argued Romney never did that as governor of Massachusetts. And quoting Romney’s statement that “I love great schools,” Messina attacked Romney’s education proposals.
The memo was, in other words, a 2,800-word manifesto of what Barack Obama should have said at the first debate.
Besides his coulda-woulda-shoulda strategy, the president also plans, apparently, to attack Romney for appearing moderate at the first debate. “Mitt Romney will say and do anything, regardless of whether it’s true, to become president,” Obama campaign spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday morning. “And no doubt over the last couple of days while he’s been practicing and preparing for the debate, he spent time memorizing deceptions and ways to hide from his ‘severely conservative’ positions.” The president, Psaki said, will call Romney on it.
Maybe it will work. But Obama has two big problems going into the second showdown with Romney. One, he needs to win just to level the score. And two, even if he wins at Hofstra, it’s likely the second debate will have fewer viewers and receive less attention than the first. So the president actually needs not only to win, but to win big to return to an equal debate footing with Romney after the disaster in Denver.