Obama to be 'firm but respectful' in pivotal second debate
By Amie Parnes - 10/15/12 11:54 AM ET
President Obama will be “firm but respectful” in what could be a pivotal debate Tuesday night against Republican Mitt Romney, his campaign spokeswoman said Monday.
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not get into the specifics about Obama's expected tone, but promised Obama would be “forceful” on Tuesday night.
Obama is looking for a strong performance after the first debate, when he was criticized for giving a lackluster showing that had some observers wondering if he would have rather been anywhere but the debate stage.
The poor debate turned around momentum in the presidential race, with a number of national polls showing Romney with the lead.
Obama has retained an edge in many of the swing states that will decide the race, most critically in Ohio. But polls suggest Romney has closed the gap in battlegrounds such as Virginia and Colorado, and one poll released late last week showed him well ahead in Florida.
This has raised the pressure on Obama to do much better in his second encounter with Romney at Hofstra University on Tuesday night.
Obama and his campaign team have acknowledged he could have done better at the first debate, and aides have promised the president will more aggressive.
During the short gaggle with reporters in Williamsburg, Va. — where the president has been holed up for the better part of two days in debate practice — on Monday, Psaki said the race is “very, very close.”
Along with debate prep, she said the president has been “enjoying the grounds” and “walking around, taking in the beautiful atmosphere we have here.”
Tuesday’s debate will be held in a town-hall format in which questions from the audience will drive the discussion. In such a setting, it could be more difficult for the candidates to go on the attack, given a perceived need to highlight empathy with the likely voters doing the questioning.
It also emerged Monday that both campaigns are concerned that moderator and CNN journalist Candy Crowley will ask too many questions during the debate.
The two campaigns have reportedly written to the Commission on Presidential Debates questioning whether Crowley intends to take a more active role during the town-hall event than the campaigns agreed to, according to a report in Time.