The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 14, 2012

Debate preparation trumps 2012 campaigning Sunday

— WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are skipping campaigning Sunday to focus on preparing for their debate Tuesday night, with the incumbent trying to rebound from a widely panned performance at the first face-off and the Republican nominee hoping to repeat his strong showing.

The president was gathering with advisers at a riverfront resort in Williamsburg while Romney was sticking to his Boston-area home ahead of the prime-time town-hall style debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., exactly three weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

After a listless first debate Oct. 3, Obama was working with aides on more pointed and aggressive responses to his Republican rival in the tight race. While dismissing Romney's debate tenor as "magical and theatrical," Obama adviser Robert Gibbs predicted the president would step up his game in the second matchup.

"He knew when he walked off that stage, and he also knew as he watched the tape of that debate, that he has to be more energetic. I think you'll see somebody who is very passionate about the choice that our country faces," Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Romney will be ready for a more aggressive Obama, adviser Ed Gillespie said.

"The president can change his style, he can change his tactics, he can't change his record and he can't change his policies. And that's what this election is about," Gillespie told CNN.

Romney's campaign released a new television advertisement using footage from running mate Paul Ryan's debate last week with Vice President Joe Biden. The ad features clips of Ryan saying the government "can't keep spending money we don't have." His comments are juxtaposed with video from the debate of Biden laughing.

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