Debate Preview

2:40 p.m. E.T.

The Obama and Romney debate strategies — and why and how they might go off track, from “Andrea Mitchell Reports”:

ANDREA MITCHELL: What are you looking for tonight?

MARK HALPERIN: Well, both sides have pretty clear game plans, from my reporting and from the public statements their advisers have made. The President wants to be presidential, take advantage of being commander-in-chief to talk with authority, about what he’s accomplished in his first term and Governor Romney wants to be calm, kind of smooth the edges. Agree with the President when he can and also try to look calm and presidential and with authority. I think what could throw both or either of them off is the dynamic we saw in the last debate. They don’t particularly like each other. From the President’s point of view, he thinks Governor Romney has criticized him in a way that’s been purely political and I think if Governor Romney digs him in a way that the President can’t resist, he may go harder and less presidential than he’d like to do. Governor Romney, one of the animating things that got him into this race was he thinks the President’s been a disaster on foreign policy. This notion of projecting weakness abroad. And, I think, if the President says something that opens up that, taps into that feeling Governor Romney has, he too may be a little bit more aggressive, a little hotter than his advisers had planned for.

ANDREA MITCHELL: You know, it’s true that they don’t like each other and Mitt Romney really knows how to get under Barack Obama’s skin.

MARK HALPERIN: And vice versa. I mean, I think that what you saw in that first debate was kind of this primal, again, tapping into what both of them feel and foreign policy is a hot button issue. It’s not a top of mind, top concern for voters but both these guys, they think they have the far superior world view, even though, as it’s been widely discussed — you and I have talked about it, their issue positions on most things aren’t that different. But they both believe the other one is fundamentally misguided about how to lead the United States and the role of the U.S. in the world. So, I think they will execute. I think they both will be relatively calm. It doesn’t mean it won’t be a substantive debate but it may not have the kind of heat that we saw in the last one, unless one of them taps into that feeling on the other side. And then, I think, although they’ll be seated, it could get pretty aggressive, even though, again, that is not the plan their advisers have for either of them.

Watch the video above.

Related Topics: Andrea Mitchell Reports, Barack Obama, Lynn University, Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney, MSNBC, 2012 Elections, Analysis, News, The Page, Video

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