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September 30th, 2012
08:03 PM ET

Letters to the President #1350: 'How low can you...both...go'

Reporter's Note: President Obama and Mitt Romney are preparing for their first debate. I am preparing, as soon as I finish this letter, to grill a steak out back. Frankly, I think I’m getting the better deal.

Dear Mr. President,

As the first big debate between you and Mr. Romney looms, I have been amused to see your twin teams frantically lowering expectations. If a voter listens to your side, he’ll hear something like this every hour of the day: “Why Mitt Romney is a masterful debater! A regular Stephen Douglas! No mere mortal could possibly best him in a war of words, so if we manage to just stay on the stage, everyone should consider that a win.”

And from Team Romney, we’re hearing claims like, “Barack Obama? The nation has never seen such a gifted orator. We have no chance, no chance I tell you, of beating him in a debate! In fact, if we even make it to the handshake that should be reported as a decisive victory for our side!”

I don’t think any of it makes difference. Not really. It just gives your teams something to do while you candidates are busy studying for the meeting like a couple of college kids heading into final exams. Most people who are following the race at all have an idea of your relative strengths, and they’re not going to be lured into some alternative reality by all the posturing.

Still, like I said, it is funny to watch. In the end, you are both talented enough to wind up on that stage and to argue your points with reasonable skill. When it is over…that’s when we’ll know who the underdog is.

Can you give me a call this evening? My wife and daughter are off at a college-hunting meeting and I have time to chat.

Regards,
Tom