As President Obama began to hunker down at a plush resort here for three full days of debate prep, his campaign team signaled the incumbent may steal a page from Vice President Joe Biden and show a more aggressive tone in Tuesday’s second face-to-face showdown with Republican Mitt Romney.
“Gov. Romney has been making pitches all of his life and he knows how to say what people want to hear whether that was during his time at Bain or during the dozens of town halls he did during the primary,” said Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Saturday. “His running mate also left him vulnerable on a number of issues — admitting there was a $5 trillion tax cut, after he denied it, but again failing to explain how they would pay for it, leaving women worried about their ability to make choices about their own health care and failing to articulate their plan for winding down our presence in Afghanistan.”
It’s significant that Psaki previewed the president’s next clash with Romney with an immediate mention of his time at Bain, a word Obama never mentioned during the first presidential debate, in Denver.
Senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said on “Fox News Sunday” that Obama is making “adjustments” before the debate and plans to be more aggressive.
Also noteworthy is that Psaki mentioned Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who faced intense pressure from Biden literally from the first minutes of their one and only vice presidential debate, this past Thursday.
Biden hit Ryan on everything from tax cuts to Iran policy with a ferocity that left Republicans complaining about interruptions and eye-rolling that GOP officials believe will ultimately backfire with undecided voters because of its negativity.
White House officials, however, are raving about Biden’s performance with so many superlatives that they are openly acknowledging that the vice president did a better job of explaining the president’s agenda than Obama himself.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, a former Biden aide, opened a briefing with reporters by saying he wanted to assert a “point of personal privilege” to laud the vice president.
If you think the Obama campaign is really gonna reveal their game plan on national television before the debate then I have some real estate at Zuccotti Park I want to sell you. If I was Romney I would expect nothing and be prepared for anything.
Trying to be more aggressive is a minefield for Obama. First of all, it’s not his style. Secondly he’s not very good at it, and not because of that “angry black man” thing the race-baiters like to refer to.
But the real danger is it plays to Romney’s strength. Mitt is an Alpha male. You don’t put together multi-million dollar investment deals unless you have a pair that clang when you walk. Mitt is older and taller and more accomplished that Obama. And you know he’s gonna be ready for an aggressive attack. If Mitt can’t defend his record on Bain no one can.
On the other hand, what choice does Obama have? He needs a decisive victory and he won’t get one playing safe. I really don’t expect a major change of style. My guess is Obama will try to be a little more assertive but will mainly try to improve on his body language – looking at Romney, smiling and trying to appear confident. He’s probably rehearsed some zingers he can use, especially in his closing statement so Romney won’t have a chance to respond.
Obama’s real problem isn’t Romney. Obama’s problem is his record. He can’t change that in a couple days no matter how hard he tries.