Entries in Debates (11)


Romney Says Debates About ‘Something Bigger’ Than Who Scores the Punches

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Emerging from days of debate prep, Mitt Romney Monday night arrived in Colorado and told a crowd of thousands that he’s “delighted” about the upcoming debates.

“Now you know that you’re going to get some visitors this week,” Romney said. “The president will be here. I’ll be here. We’re going to have a debate, and there’s a lot of interest surrounding the debate. And people want to know who’s going to win, who’s going to score the punches and who’s going to make the biggest difference in the arguments they make.

“And there’s going to be all the scoring of winning and losing, and you know, in my view, it’s not so much winning and losing or even the people themselves -- the president and myself -- it’s about something bigger than that,” Romney said.

The debates will be a chance for the two politicians to “describe the pathway forward,” laying out a choice for voters, he told the crowd, estimated by campaign staffers at nearly 6,000 people.

“The American people are going to have to make the choice as to what kind of America they want,” he said. “And so, I look forward to these debates. I’m delighted that we’re going to have three debates. It’ll be conversation with the American people that will span almost an entire month. We’ll get to describe our respective views, and I believe the people of Colorado will choose a better way forward for our country. We can’t afford four more years like the last four years.”

But Monday night, in what was one of the larger crowds of his campaign and his fourteenth in the swing state this year, Romney paid homage to the importance of Colorado’s votes.

“This is a great place to be, here at the foot of the Rocky Mountains,” he said. “I think this is going to be the home of the place that elects the next President of the United States.”

Romney spent several hours on Sunday and Monday morning doing debate preparation with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who has been tapped to play President Obama in mock debates. Portman, who flew to Denver with Romney earlier Monday, will be on hand for last minute debate prep Tuesday and Wednesday.

While Romney hits the books Tuesday, his wife Ann is scheduled to campaign on his behalf, holding a rally in Denver.

President Obama is in Henderson, Nev., attending his own so-called “debate camp,” and is scheduled to arrive in Denver on Wednesday.

During a stop at a local campaign office there, Obama joked that the prep was a “drag,” remarking of his staffers, “They’re making me do my homework.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Joe Biden to Host Post-Debate Spin Session Online

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden will be the Obama campaign’s leading spin master after Wednesday night’s first presidential debate, hosting a nationwide “live-stream discussion” online immediately following the action in Denver, ABC News has learned.

Biden will address and interact with viewers at the more-than-3,200 debate watch parties organized by Obama volunteers in all 50 states, a campaign official said. The announcement was to be made widely to supporters in an evening email from deputy Obama campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon.

The Obama campaign has regularly used milestones in the campaign -- the 100-day mark, Obama’s convention speech, etc. -- as organizing opportunities, drawing together supporters to enlist new volunteers, register voters and place phone calls.

Both Biden and President Obama have each previously participated in digital video chats with their national grassroots network, using a custom teleconferencing platform developed by the campaign and Adobe Systems called Adobe Connect. This will be Biden’s second opportunity.

In addition to Biden, the campaign is emphasizing the competitive nature of the debates to drive turnout to the parties and support the president.

“I gotta be honest: I love the presidential debates,” Dillon said in the email appeal. “Part of it’s the competitive person in me -- I know Mitt Romney’s been practicing for this moment for months, so I can’t wait to cheer our guy on.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama to Crash Debate Prep in Nevada as Campaigns Lower Expectations

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(BOWLING GREEN, Ohio) -- President Obama will head to Henderson, Nev., on Sunday for three days of debate prep behind closed doors, ABC News has learned.  While he is there he will also hold one grassroots rally and likely make some unscheduled local stops in the evening, a campaign official said.

Meanwhile, less than a week before Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney face-off in Denver, the debate expectations game is in full swing.

Team Obama is laying it on heavy that the president may be the less-prepared candidate because of the demands of his office.

“The president will have a little bit of time to review and practice before the debates, but he has had to balance the management of world events, governing, time out campaigning and will have less time than we anticipated to sharpen and cut down his tendency to give long, substantive answers,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told ABC News.

To date, Obama has had only a handful of two- to three-hour prep sessions at the Democratic National Committee headquarters with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is standing in as Romney.

Psaki said that Romney, by contrast, has been preparing like an “Olympic decathlete” with an unprecedented amount of practice.

He started “earlier than any candidate in modern history and running through mock debates five times in 48-hours,” she said.

Obama campaign officials are even putting a spin on the debates as a potential “reset” moment for the race, claiming they won’t be surprised if Romney gets a bounce “just by being on the same stage as the incumbent.”

One official, lowering the expectations bar even further for Obama, went so far as to note to ABC News that five out of the last six presidential challengers were judged to have won the first debate.

Romney has also moved to lower expectations for the Oct. 3 debate, telling reporters Tuesday in Ohio that he’s a presidential debate rookie.

Romney took part in more than a dozen GOP primary debates, mostly in 2011.

“The president is obviously a very eloquent, gifted speaker -- he’ll do just fine,” Romney told Fox News in an interview from Dayton, Ohio. “I’ve, you know, I’ve never been in a presidential debate like this and it will be a new experience.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney on Debates: Obama Will ‘Say Things That Aren’t True’

Martin H. Simon/ABC(NEW YORK) -- With the first presidential debate less than three weeks away, Mitt Romney is spending lots of time getting ready behind closed doors.  In his first comments on that debate prep, he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Thursday that Sen. Rob Portman is a tough stand-in for a president who basically lies in debates.

“I think the challenge that I’ll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren’t true,” Romney said.  “I’ve looked at prior debates.  And in that kind of case, it’s difficult to say, ‘Well, am I going to spend my time correcting things that aren’t quite accurate?  Or am I going to spend my time talking about the things I want to talk about?'”

The former governor told Stephanopoulos he’s tempted to use Ronald Reagan’s famous line against President Carter in a 1980 debate, “There you go again” -- the same line that Bill Clinton turned on Romney and the Republicans at the Democratic convention in Charlotte.

When asked if Portman was crushing him in early debate preps, Romney was coy.

“I’m not revealing those kind of secrets.  But I will never debate Rob Portman again,” Romney said with a laugh.

“He’s very good,” he said.


The debates are at a critical moment in the campaign, with the latest polls showing Obama gaining an edge over Romney in the key battleground states.

Romney told Stephanopoulos the debates “may well be” the campaign’s make or break moment.

“Sometimes there’s something big that happens and they become deciding.  Other times, it’s like, well, nothing really changed.  We’re in the same spot we were before the debates.  I can’t predict what’ll happen.  But I think it’ll be revealing one way or the other,” he said.

Romney said he wasn’t concerned about new polls showing him trailing in Virginia and Ohio -- even though it’s virtually impossible for him to get the 270 electoral votes he needs without victories in those two states.

“Well, I’m ahead in a lot of other states, too.  I saw one this morning, ahead in Florida, ahead in North Carolina.  Gosh, we’re even tied in Wisconsin,” Romney told Stephanopoulos.  “These polls are going to bounce around a lot.  I don’t pay a lot of attention day to day to which state’s up and which one’s down.  But I believe that when the final decisions are being made by the American people, they’re going to ask themselves, 'Who do I have confidence in to keep America safe?  And who do I believe can get our economy doing what it needs to do?'”

Romney said the most important numbers in this election are 23, 47 and 16.

“23 million Americans out of work or underemployed.  47 million people on food stamps.  $16 trillion in debt.  And now the Federal Reserve, it says, 'Look, this economy is not going well,'” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Will Practice Debating this Week with Obama Proxy

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Last week was all about Mitt Romney.  This week, it's all about him preparing to face President Obama for a series of three debates planned for October.

The Republican presidential nominee is not ruling out making some speaking appearances in several of the battleground states while Democrats renominate Obama during three-day Democratic National Convention.

However, a senior Romney adviser says the campaign will probably take it down a few notches so that the candidate can get ready for his one-on-one debate battles with the incumbent, commencing Oct. 3.

The site of the debate practice sessions is the Reading, Vt., home of former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who worked for then-Gov. Romney.

Romney will play himself and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who has been described as doing a spot-on impersonation of Obama, will repeat his mimickry that won raves when he did the same for former GOP presidential nominee John McCain in 2008.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Moderators Announced for Presidential, VP Debates

ABC NEWS(WASHINGTON) -- On Monday, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the three debates between President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney will be hosted by Candy Crowley, PBS’s Jim Lehrer and CBS’s Bob Schieffer. ABC’s Martha Raddatz will host the vice presidential debate.

In October, CNN’s Crowley will become the first female presidential debate moderator in more than 20 years – and she may have a trio of high school girls to thank in part.

Crowley’s appointment comes amid a call from New Jersey high school students to put a female moderator on a presidential debate stage for the first time since 1992, when ABC’s Carole Simpson moderated a presidential debate between George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. The girls started a petition to convince the Commission to select a female moderator for one of the four debates scheduled before the election in November.

The commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the petition and its role in the moderator selection.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kerry Plays Romney in Debate With Obama

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry will pretend he’s Mitt Romney in mock debates with President Obama, the campaign has confirmed.

“There is no one that has more experience or understanding of the presidential debate process than John Kerry,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist. “He’s an expert debater who has a fundamental mastery of a wide range of issues, including Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts. He’s the obvious choice.”

Obama and Romney will face off in three debates before the election. Romney is probably getting help from Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a possible running mate who helped Sen. John McCain prepare for Obama in the previous election.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Jokes Debate Moderators Are ‘Communists’

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(LAKELAND, Fla.) -- Sen. John McCain joked Friday morning that the moderators of the Republican presidential debates are not only a part of the liberal media but also communists.

“They have turned into performances. I wish they hadn’t,” said McCain of the debates. “I wish that the moderators, and it’s mostly liberal media as you know.”

A member of the audience turned to the row of cameras stationed across from McCain and said, “Sorry, you guys.”

“Communists, most of them,” responded McCain, to chuckles in the room.

ABC News’ Jake Tapper noted that in 1999 and 2000, McCain regularly referred to his traveling press corps as “socialists,” “Bolsheviks,” and “communists.”

Throughout the day, McCain deplored the amount of debates during this campaign cycle and the tenor each of them has cultivated. During a stop in The Villages, Fla., several audience members expressed discontent with the topics that the debate moderators have covered.

“When you talk to Mitt next time, you tell him to stay on the subjects people want to hear. We don’t want bickering during the debate. I want to know what you’re gonna do,” said one audience member.

“I’ll tell him, but Mitt’s response will be he doesn’t control the agenda. The moderators are controlling the agenda,” said McCain. “I think I’ve had enough debates.”

“I hope that those who do the questioning would understand what the American people want to hear about because they’re making a judgment,” McCain said later.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Asks Floridians to Vote on Records, Not Debates

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(SUN CITY CENTER, Fla.) --  Stumping on behalf of Mitt Romney for the first time in Florida Thursday, former presidential candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain pressed Florida voters to consider a candidate’s record, not just debate performances, when choosing whom they will vote for in the Florida primary next week.

It was a pointed reference to Newt Gingrich, who has benefited from strong debate performances in recent weeks.

“I think debate performances are important,” McCain told a crowd of more than 150 people at a town hall-style meeting at the Chamber of Commerce. “I think that they’re helpful in talking to the American people, but I’m not sure that debates should be the only criteria."

“I think we should look at people’s records. I think we should look at what they offer the American people. I think debates are helpful, don’t get me wrong, but I also think that we should look at their records.”

McCain characterized the debates as having taken on a tone that is “not healthy” and suggested they have “deteriorated into name calling.”

The Republican senator continued to criticize Gingrich’s penchant for earmarks while he served as speaker of the House.

“Under Speaker Gingrich, when I was in the House and the Senate, earmarks exploded,” McCain said. “It led to scandal. It led to [convicted lobbyist Jack] Abramoff and it does because it’s corruption."

“I took the floor in 1998…and criticized and railed against this bill that they had passed, this appropriations bill out of the House of Representatives, and the speaker’s response at that time was that we were perfectionists. Well, I believe in being a perfectionist where corruption is concerned.”

McCain, who endorsed Romney in early January, squeezed out a win over Romney in the Florida primary in 2008 with 36 percent of the vote, compared with 31 percent received by the former Massachusetts governor, and eventually became the Republican nominee.

“I think you know we had a very spirited primary in 2008 and it should’ve been. Primaries are spirited and they’re not bean bag,” McCain said. “But I can tell you that Mitt Romney and I share the same values, the same principles, the same emphasis on our national security and fiscal discipline, and we may have had a difference or two and we may still have a difference or two but the fact is also I’d like to point out that after I was able to secure the nomination, no one worked harder on my behalf than Mitt Romney.”

During a question-and-answer session, a younger voter voiced his desire to opt out of Social Security and asked whether the federal government would give him that option in the future.

“No, because it’s a scheme, obviously, that you are not paying for your present retirement. You are paying for present retirees,” McCain said as a few women in the crowd simultaneously called it a “Ponzi scheme.” “But what I think we should do is allow you to put some of that Social Security that you’re paying into a lockbox, as we call it, so it will be there as you retire.”

McCain joked comfortably with the crowd throughout his speech. As he defended Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts, McCain accidentally knocked one of the microphones off the podium.

“Too bad for Channel 9. That’s it,” McCain said as the crowd, many of whom were holding signs that read “Don’t Trust the Liberal Media,” laughed and applauded. “Channel 9′s a bunch of liberals anyways.”

Drumming up support for Romney, McCain urged the audience to hit the voting booths Tuesday, even joking with a man in the front row wearing an “I voted” button that he should give up his chair for an undecided voter.

“I noticed that somebody already has a button on that says, ‘I voted.’ Would you mind if someone who hasn’t voted takes your seat?” McCain joked.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama and Gingrich to Debate with No Moderator? Not Likely

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Could Newt Gingrich and President Obama actually debate each other for three hours with no moderator -- seven times?

That’s what Gingrich apparently wants.  The 2012 hopeful has pledged repeatedly to challenge Obama to a series of  “Lincoln-Douglas”-style debates if he’s the Republican nominee for president.

But the chance of such debates happening is low. The Obama campaign didn’t respond when asked if it would consider Gingrich’s proposal -- even after Gingrich teased Obama could "bring his teleprompter" -- and historians and presidential observers note that the challenge, not an unusual one, is more of a coy suggestion designed to bolster a nonincumbent.

On Monday, Gingrich and Jon Huntsman had a debate in New Hampshire fashioned after the Lincoln-Douglas forum.  A time-keeper -- not a moderator -- sat next to the two and spoke only after a candidate had finished talking, and just to introduce the other.

Gingrich said at the beginning that the debate would lend itself to unpredictability because “you don’t have talking points, your consultants didn’t figure it out, you didn’t do focus groups, you’re just talking from your own experience about the nature of the world.”

The time-keeper said at one point that he wouldn’t be using buzzers, horns or bells to cut off the candidates. “And we’re grateful,” Gingrich replied.

If anything, by extending the offer to Obama, Gingrich is not only showing his own self-confidence that he can debate Obama comfortably, but he separates himself even further from the pack of GOP contenders whom he’s already debated a dozen times.

“Tactically, it’s a smart move,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert on campaigns who has observed the history of presidential debates. “Effectively, it takes some of the other candidates out of question.”

The exact logistics of Gingrich’s desired Lincoln-Douglas format have not been specified, and the show itself might not be that entertaining to some of the viewing public.  Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas discussed issues -- mainly slavery -- seven times during their 1858 Senate race, but the audience didn’t witness heated exchanges so much as lengthy speeches.  One candidate would speak for an hour; the next would respond in 90 minutes; and the first would return with a half-hour rebuttal.

In today’s media environment, voters might tune in for the first in the series of unmoderated policy speeches in a general election, but for seven?

“There’s a danger that it would fail to hold interest,” said David Greenberg, a presidential historian who has cautioned against romanticizing debates modeled after the Lincoln-Douglas style.  “What kind of ratings does C-Span get?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio