(BOWLING GREEN, Ohio) — President Obama will head to Henderson, Nev., on Sunday for three days of debate prep behind closed doors, ABC News has learned. While he is there he will also hold one grassroots rally and likely make some unscheduled local stops in the evening, a campaign official said.
Meanwhile, less than a week before Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney face-off in Denver, the debate expectations game is in full swing.
Team Obama is laying it on heavy that the president may be the less-prepared candidate because of the demands of his office.
“The president will have a little bit of time to review and practice before the debates, but he has had to balance the management of world events, governing, time out campaigning and will have less time than we anticipated to sharpen and cut down his tendency to give long, substantive answers,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told ABC News.
To date, Obama has had only a handful of two- to three-hour prep sessions at the Democratic National Committee headquarters with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is standing in as Romney.
Psaki said that Romney, by contrast, has been preparing like an “Olympic decathlete” with an unprecedented amount of practice.
He started “earlier than any candidate in modern history and running through mock debates five times in 48-hours,” she said.
Obama campaign officials are even putting a spin on the debates as a potential “reset” moment for the race, claiming they won’t be surprised if Romney gets a bounce “just by being on the same stage as the incumbent.”
One official, lowering the expectations bar even further for Obama, went so far as to note to ABC News that five out of the last six presidential challengers were judged to have won the first debate.
Romney has also moved to lower expectations for the Oct. 3 debate, telling reporters Tuesday in Ohio that he’s a presidential debate rookie.
Romney took part in more than a dozen GOP primary debates, mostly in 2011.
“The president is obviously a very eloquent, gifted speaker — he’ll do just fine,” Romney told Fox News in an interview from Dayton, Ohio. “I’ve, you know, I’ve never been in a presidential debate like this and it will be a new experience.”
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Eric Bradner, Dana Bash and MJ Lee, CNN
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