Campaigns Beat Up On Their Own Ahead Of Debates

Oct 1, 2012
Originally published on October 1, 2012 6:20 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, despite all that debate training, if you listen to the campaigns, you might think the candidates are preparing to fail on Wednesday night.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That's right. Every four years in the lead-up to presidential debates, we've come to expect a game of sorts. Let's call it the expectations limbo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIMBO ROCK")

BLOCK: That's when campaign surrogates suddenly beat up on their own guy. So how low can they go?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM: The president is going to lose the first debate. He will lose it. Mark my words.

BLOCK: That's Obama supporter Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan on her Current TV show last week. And in the game of setting expectations, Granholm doesn't just preemptively declare the president the loser, she celebrates Mitt Romney.

GRANHOLM: His debating experience is fresh. He's in shape. He's effective at making strategic points. Plus, Romney has to change the race dynamics. And believe me, make no mistake, he is practicing 20 ways to do that.

CORNISH: Twenty ways. Now Republicans can play this game, too. Here's vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan yesterday on "Fox News Sunday" undercutting his boss and praising the president.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

CORNISH: But don't tell that to Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Romney surrogate. Yesterday, on CBS's "Face The Nation," he suggested Romney's debate performance on Wednesday will be a game changer.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

BLOCK: Known for his straight talk, Christie might have missed the memo on the expectations game.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

CORNISH: It's likely President Obama doesn't agree with that spin. Still, he's not above playing down his own debating abilities.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I know that most in the media are speculating already on who's gonna have the best zingers. I don't know about that, you know. Whose gonna put the most points on the board. No, no. Governor Romney, he's a professional. I'm just OK.

CORNISH: The expectations limbo, where just okay wins the game. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.