It appears that President Obama is going to go after Mitt Romney during Tuesday night’s debate by criticizing his time running Bain Capital, among other attack vectors he will use. That’s the word from a campaign spokesperson who is with the president as he takes three days off the campaign trail to prepare for the debate.
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.
The president turned in an effort that left even some of his own advisers wondering about a lackluster performance, and preparations for the second debate are critical — with Democrats eager to see him stop the momentum Romney has gained in several key states.
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.
Yes, Biden did a much better job of explaining the Obama agenda for a second term than the president himself — if that agenda includes mugging for the camera, giggling like a schoolgirl, and generally acting like the world’s number one jerk. Otherwise, what exactly did Biden have to say that was so compelling? “Malarkey” may be a profound comment on the election, but it hardly denotes an explanation of policy.
But the Obama campaign knows through experience that Romney’s weak spot with middle class voters is Bain. Romney has not done the best job defending his business career and he better come up with some zingers for Tuesday night if the president is going raise all the tired, dishonest issues he has put in ads over the last few months.
Perhaps a stirring defense of capitalism itself might be in order. Or a charge that Obama hates successful people and businesses. However he handles the attack, he is going to have to make his defense short, and memorable.
Another good debate performance by Romney will keep the Obama campaign on the defensive. That’s a good place for it to be three weeks before the election.