Mitt Romney vs. Obama: Countdown to the Debate

David Kerley, Matt Dowd analyze importance of the first presidential debate.
3:00 | 09/29/12

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Transcript for Mitt Romney vs. Obama: Countdown to the Debate
We're just four days away from the first debate between president obama and republican challenger, mitt romney. Some are calling these debates a make-or-break moment for romney. It's "your voice, your vote." With just 38 days left to election day. And david kerley joins us from the white house with an inside look at how both sides are prepping. David? Reporter: Good morning, bianna. This is the year that these debates could be critical. So, both candidates are spending a lot of time preparing. Heading back to boston for more debate practice, mitt romney would not endorse the view that the debates could be do-or-die for his campaign. I don't think anyone would suggest that the debates are not important. I can't tell you how important it will be. It will be a good chance for the president and for me to have a conversation with the american people about our respective views. Four more years. Reporter: Mr. Obama spent a couple of hours practicing yesterday, as well. And has three days set aside for more practice. It's nicknamed debate camp. And near the end of camp, like now, it's a full-on mock debate. Following the time rules, podiums the exact distance apart, and fill-ins for the opposition. Preparing joe biden. It's only tense when they give you the completely wrong answer. The goal is to make them feel that they're as real as possible. Reporter: She believes romney has the harder chore. The idea that I'm anti-immigrant is repulsive. Reporter: Being aggressive against the president, drawing distinctions between the president, trying not to be nasty. I don't think I'm that bad. You're likable enough, hillary. Thank you. Reporter: And the president who can become impatient, is probably being pushed in practice, as well. Part of having a tough opponent in your mock is that you get that anger out in the mock. So that the president is relatively calm and collected. Reporter: There are reports out of the president's debate practice these getting real push-back from staff to shorten his answers. He has a tendency to get into the professorial answers. A guy that knows a little bit of what it's like to help with debate prep. Matthew dowd has prepared candidates from both parties. Good morning, sir. Good morning. Everybody loves a comeback story. How well does mitt romney have to do for us to start writing the mitt romney comeback story? He has to do very well. He's in a race that's a five-point or six-point national decline on his part. He's losing in all of the electoral states. He does not want to get in a situation where this goes past him and he can't catch up. He's got to do it on october 3rd. And he has to do well. And I think the race will close. He'll show up and do reasonably well. But he has to do that. You have said in your online column that it's more about style than substance for him. Why? If you take a look at the history of debates, it's not really about policy specifics. It's not really about facts. People have heard a lot about that. They've seen it. They've read it. It's more about the cues that indicate the personality or how they're going to be or mannerisms. Every debate has changed because of somebody's mannerisms or style did badly or did well. That's where changes occur. Going through the primaries, I believe he debated 20 times. In a lot of the debates, everybody was attacking him because he was the front-runner. Does that mean he has a potentially good performance in him coming up on wednesday? If you look at the history of the debate, he won or tied every one of the debates. He's got it in him. He's never been faced at this kind of level with this kind of scrutiny, one-on-one. It's much different when you're one on ten and have to worry about 15 minutes of the debate. He has to worry about an hour and a half of this debate in a much different circumstance. He's got it in him. He has the capacity to do really well. How important are the prep sessions? They're extremely important. If the people who have done badly didn't pay attention in the prep sessions, didn't get ready, didn't get it down, these prep sessions are key for mitt romney. Matthew dowd, incredibly important for us to have your perspective this morning. We appreciate thank you. Tune in tomorrow morning to "this week" with george stephanopoulos. Chris christie will be his guest.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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