Debate: Let the (Expectations) Games Begin

ABC News’ John Berman ( @ johnsberman ) reports:

It’s time to debate, which means it is time to claim everyone else needs to win.  An adviser to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney adviser says all the pressure in on Rick Perry.  ”Rick Perry has set very high expectations for himself, and as a result he needs to outshine the rest of the candidates on the stage.”  This adviser added, “You can’t be the frontrunner and deliver a second-rate performance.”

Meanwhile a spokesman for Rick Perry went on TV to temper these loft expectations, saying debates are not Perry’s “strongest venue.”

The expectations game for debates has been played by candidates and campaigns for generations; before they take the stage, the opposition is always Cicero , and your candidate is simply lucky to complete a sentence.

But for tonight’s debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, C alif. , there will be a great deal of focus on Rick Perry, from the television audience, and perhaps the debate moderators.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the focus of Mitt Romney.  According to his aides, there is no mystery what he wants to talk about: his new 59 point jobs plan .

“Mitt Romney has produced the most far-reaching economic plan of any candidate of either party. He hopes to use it as the basis for talking about how he will turnaround the economy,” said the Romney adviser.

Of course a great many people are waiting to see if he uses it as a basis to talk about Rick Perry.