WASHINGTON — President Obama’s campaign is working feverishly to restore its momentum after a lackluster debate performance last week, an effort that began with a conference call 10 minutes before the debate even ended and led to new advertisements, a rewritten stump speech, a carefully timed leak and a reversal of months-old strategy.
Perhaps most important as the president’s team struggles to put his campaign back on track is a renewed effort to win the three remaining debates, starting with Thursday’s face-off between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Paul D. Ryan. Mr. Biden began traveling to a Delaware hotel on Sunday for three days of debate camp.
Under the tutelage of David Axelrod, the president’s chief strategist who is personally overseeing the preparations, Mr. Biden will be counseled on how to avoid Mr. Obama’s mistakes and even correct them with a more aggressive prosecution of the Republican ticket. Mr. Axelrod’s involvement highlights the stakes the Obama campaign places on the debate, and Mr. Biden has been reading “Young Guns,” the book co-written by Mr. Ryan, and practicing attack lines that Mr. Obama avoided.
In rehearsals, Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who is playing Mr. Ryan, has mimicked what he considered the Republican’s staccato speaking style and penchant for slashing arguments wrapped in a smile. “I expect the vice president to come at me like a cannonball,” Mr. Ryan told The Weekly Standard.
Mr. Biden’s advisers view Mr. Ryan as a walking encyclopedia of numbers and policy and hope he might get lost in the weeds. “The key is to be able to cut through the numbers that often don’t make sense,” said Mr. Van Hollen. Also crucial is helping Mr. Biden tame his own loquacious nature and proclivity for gaffes.
Look, I’m not making any predictions about how the Thursday night debate will go – but I just think it’s hilarious that the Obama campaign is riding high hopes on gaffe-tastic Joe riding to the rescue, when he has been responsible for so many goofs that the campaign and the administration have had to either dodge, explain their way out of, or spin.
What I do anticipate for Thursday night is a debate at least on the level of the Palin/Biden debate, spirited, with a few zingers, and maybe both candidates looking a touch flustered a time or two – with the end result being a draw or one having a slight edge (I REALLY hope Ryan crushes Biden, but I’m not going to get overly confident). But I do NOT expect this debate to suddenly reverse the progress made by Romney’s performance in the first Presidential debate.