With the first presidential debate just a few days away, below you will find a guide to Romney’s debate prep: How many debates has he done? Who attends debate prep? What has Romney said about the debates? Here’s ABC News’ guide to all your Romney debate questions.
How many debates has Romney done since announcing his candidacy?
Romney participated in 19 debates during the primary season, the last one in Mesa, Ariz., in February. None of these debates were Romney vs. one other candidate — all had at least four candidates participating.
How many times has Romney done debate prep and for how long?
The Romney campaign doesn’t always divulge when Romney is prepping for the debates. There are a few times we know he’s teed off against Sen. Rob Portman, who was tapped earlier this year to play President Obama in mock debates. Romney spent a three-day span at the West Windsor, Vt., home of Romney’s former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, where the debate sessions were long and went into the night.
On Sept. 9, Romney spent several hours at his Boston headquarters doing debate prep with advisors. A week later, on Sept. 16, Romney holed up with Portman and advisers at the Marriott hotel in Burlington, Mass., for more prep. And most recently, Romney spent the morning of Sept. 23 in a Los Angeles hotel doing prep work, also with Portman.
What’s Romney’s debate prep like?
Romney has conducted several mock debates with Portman, and an adviser has acted as the moderator, keeping time on Romney’s answers. After each mock debate, there will be a discussion of what occurred.
How is this different from how Romney prepared for the primary debates?
It’s very different. Romney preferred to sit down at a conference table with his senior advisers and talk through the issues before primary debates. He rarely did mock debates.
Who goes to debate prep?
In addition to Senator Portman, several of Romney’s high-level campaign staffers have been seen coming and going from these debate prep sessions, including his chief counsel Ben Ginsburg, campaign manager Matt Rhoades, senior advisers Stuart Stevens, Eric Fehrnstrom, Kevin Madden, Beth Myers, Peter Flaherty, and campaign chairman Bob White.
When Will Romney get to Denver?
Romney will arrive in Denver on Monday night, Oct. 1, when he will hold an evening rally.
What has Romney had to say about the upcoming debates?
While pundits opine on just how big of a night next week’s debate could shape up to be for Romney, the candidate himself has spoken a few times about the debates.
Asked about the importance of debates last week during a press avail on his campaign plane, Romney had this to say: “You know, I think what we can do is have a chance for people to see our respective positions and our pathways forward. I think the president will not be able to continue to mischaracterize my pathway, and so I’ll continue to describe mine, he will describe his, and people will make a choice. That’s the great thing about democracy. I’m not going to try to fool people into thinking he believes things he doesn’t. He’s trying to fool people into thinking that I think things that I don’t. And that ends at the debates. I can’t tell you winning and losing. I mean, he’s president of the United States, he’s a very effective speaker. I hope I’ll be able to describe my positions in a way that is accurate, and the people will make a choice as to which path they want to choose. I happen to believe that if we each do our job relatively well, I will be able to convince people that our pathway forward will be more prosperous and more secure and more confident if we choose the path I describe.”
Romney told Fox News earlier this week that the debates will be a “new experience,” adding that he’s never “been in a presidential debate.”
“The president is obviously a very eloquent, gifted speaker. He’ll do just fine,” Romney told Fox.
And at a rally in Ohio, where he appeared with Portman, Romney joked that he “doesn’t like” the Ohio politician very much anymore, adding that he “keeps beating” him up in debate prep. At a rally the day before, Romney said sometimes he wants to “kick him out of the room” because Portman plays Obama so well.
When Portman joined Romney on a flight back to Massachusetts in mid-September, the two couldn’t stop complimenting each other, with Portman remarking, “He’s doing great!” when asked by a reporter how debate prep was going, Romney quickly responding, “He’s wonderful, he’s the best!”
And in an interview with David Muir in Jerusalem in July, Romney hadn’t yet started these mock debates that have become routine as of late, but told Muir that he’d been focusing on policy briefing meetings, that he and his staff had talked about the kind of issues that were likely to come up and about the format. He said he thought the debates would present “two very dramatic contrasts as to which is the best course for the middle income Americans,” and he answered “absolutely” to Muir’s question about whether the president would be a formidable debate opponent.