Obama Plans To Be “Aggressive” in Debate

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 14 2012 4:41 PM

Democrats Say Obama Will Be More Aggressive, Energetic in Second Debate Tuesday

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Democrats say President Obama is ready to bring more passion to Tuesday's debate

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages

With the second presidential debate only two days away, campaign surrogates used the Sunday talk shows to set expectations for the highly anticipated face-off between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Democrats insisted Obama was well aware that he needed to improve following his lackluster performance in Denver. “He knew when he walked off that stage and he also knew as he’s watched the tape of that debate that he’s got to be more energetic,” Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs told CNN. (Video after the jump.) David Axelrod, another Obama adviser, told Fox News that the president would be making “adjustments” and voters can expect the president to be “aggressive in making the case for his views of where we should go as a country.”

Yet CNN’s Kevin Liptak points out that Obama may not be able to be as aggressive as some Democrats would like because of the debate’s town hall format, “which requires a likability factor not completely compatible with aggressive attacks.” The forum requires “candidates to be at once personable and vigorous in their rebuttals,” Liptak writes.

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There are signs that Obama is at least taking debate preparation much more seriously this time around. Politico points out that when Obama was asked by a reporter Sunday how the preparation was going he quickly replied: “It’s going great!” That is quite the change from the response supporters got when Obama was in Las Vegas preparing for the first debate. “Basically they're keeping me indoors all the time," Obama said then. "It's a drag. They're making me do my homework."

Ed Gillpesie, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign, made it clear Republicans aren’t worried about how Obama might change his demeanor Tuesday. “Even if he changes his style, and whatever political tactic the president settles on as being in his best interest for this debate, he can’t change his record and he can’t change his policies,” Gillespie told Fox News, reports the Hill.

The president is largely expected to increase his attacks on Romney for his changing positions and views, notes ABC News. Since the first debate, Obama’s campaign has hit hard on the theme that Romney is trying to portray himself as a moderate as Election Day nears. Indeed, Gibbs said Sunday that Romney’s performance during the first debate was “magical and theatrical” because he “walked away from a campaign he'd been running for more than six years previous to that.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.