October 3rd, 2012
07:56 PM ET

Letters to the President #1353: 'A few debate tips'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is making his final preparations for tonight’s debate, which I assume will include reading my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

The element of surprise is often critical in a confrontation, and I am a big believer in its power. For example, whenever I see my neighbors grilling chicken, I crawl over the fence, slip up right behind them, and shout, “You know, your cat has been in my yard again!” By the time they recover their wits, I am back inside, argument over.

With that in mind, I’d like to suggest that you consider a few “trick plays” in tonight’s debate, guaranteed to keep your opponent off balance. (Actually, Mitt Romney can give them a whirl if he wishes…I don’t care who tries them, I just want to see the reaction.)

1) Show up dressed like, and acting like a Founding Father. Throw out a lot of phrases like, “You sir, are a scoundrel and I shant stand for your pernicious speechifying! I herewith challenge you to a gentleman’s bout of fisticuffs!” The powdered wig is optional.
2) Respond to every statement from your opponent with a big smile, a chuckle, and the words, “That’s a good one.”
3) Spend the first twenty minutes describing a traffic jam in Boston you were once trapped in.
4) Use dental floss whenever you’re not talking.
5) Begin each of your responses with, “Meanwhile, back on earth…”
6) Each time your foe hits you with an indisputable fact, say “And I suppose you can do better?”
7) Adjust your chair over and over. When the moderator complains, ask for a time out.

I’m not sure if any of this will work, but then again I’m not sure all of the preparations you two are doing will work either. Ha!

Anyway, good luck to you and Mr. Romney both. See you on TV!


5 things to watch in tonight's debate
October 3rd, 2012
05:01 PM ET

5 things to watch in tonight's debate

Follow Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhoneiPad andAndroid. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter. 

Denver (CNN) - President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney face off on Wednesday in the first of three presidential debates.

While Obama holds a lead in several key battleground states, the race nationally has been locked in a dead heat for months. The debate offers an opportunity for Obama or Romney to gain some momentum and break the logjam.

Here are five things to watch for on Wednesday:

1. Who's presidential?

The first and most important test for the president and Romney in this opening debate is to act like they belong in the job.

We've heard a lot of bickering on the campaign trail, and there's plenty of talk that zingers could decide who wins or loses the showdown in Denver. But to most Americans, this debate is really about which candidate has the composure and stature to serve in the Oval Office.