Mitt Romney has taken a nose dive in the polls this week in the aftermath of his foolish 47 percent comments, but don't count him out just yet. Romney is feverishly practicing for his upcoming debates with President Obama on prime-time television, which could potentially swing the election back in his favor or cement his demise, depending on his performance.
Romney has been hard at work preparing for his series of three debates against Obama, which will cover everything from the economy to foreign policy. They are scheduled to go head to head in three contests: On October 3rd in Denver, on October 16, town hall-style, in Hempstead, New York, and on October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida. The final Florida debate will deal with foreign policy, something which Romney may struggle with. Vice President Paul Ryan is also scheduled to face off against Vice President Joe Biden in a debate in Danville, Kentucky on October 11.
Romney has turned to his close friend Ohio Senator Rob Portman to play President Obama in practice debates. Portman recently told Politico that Obama will be a formidable opponent. "I normally don't talk about it, but I played the role of Barack Obama back in 2008 as well, and I'm playing that role again this year. And one thing that I think has been missing in some of the discussion I've heard is that Barack Obama is a very effective debater. He's articulate, he's smart. He did a great job in 2008, during that campaign as a debater. He had some tough debates with Hillary Clinton and he performed well. So this notion that somehow Barack Obama as president hasn't had time to really get up to speed - he's up to speed every day, because he deals with all these issues, federal issues every day."
Portman continued, "Mitt Romney's a business guy and a former governor. He actually hasn't had a debate against a Democrat [since] 2002, when he ran for governor. People say, 'Well, he's been debating with the Republicans in the primaries.' ... [T]hey have five, 10 people on the stage, all within the spectrum of the party that you're in, whether you're Democrat or Republican, is very different than going one-to-one with someone from the other party. So I think Barack Obama will be formidable. ... He's a smart guy. And I disagree with him on policy issues , strongly, which is why I'm so supportive of change. But he's very good at the politics of this. And so what he does is what a good politician does, connecting with folks, explaining the issue from his perspective, hedging on the truth sometimes by doing so. But he's a good politician."
Barack Obama has had far less time to prepare for the debates than Romney. Obama will participate in a debate retreat starting on Sunday in Nevada, where he will participate in three mock debates, barring an international crisis which forces him to change plans. In 2008, Obama's pre-debate training was held in an old hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., where the he practiced all day with a brief break to campaign. At night, he did a full-length mock debate on a replica of the real stage for each debate. This time around, however, he's had to focus on the day-to-day responsibilities of being president. According to the LA Times, "President Obama has blocked out three days to prepare for the October debates, but with the constant pressures that come with one of the world's most important jobs, aides worry he may not get enough practice at the podium."
Here's the schedule for debates, along the topics that each will cover:
October 3 in Denver, Colorado: Domestic policy
October 11 in Danville, Kentucky: VP Debate, domestic and foreign policy
October 16 in Hempstead, New York: Domestic and foreign policy, with questions from undecided voters
October 22 in Boca Raton, Florida: Foreign policy