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Obama in Vegas for debate prep

Sept. 30, 2012 at 8:20 PM   |   Comments

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LAS VEGAS, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- President Obama arrived in Las Vegas Sunday for a campaign rally and his final preparations for his first debate with Republican rival Mitt Romney.

The Democratic president was welcomed at the airport by a small line of greeters, including Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and was soon ensconced at a Middle Eastern-themed hotel at Lake Las Vegas, a resort/golf community.

Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters it is Obama's eighth trip to Nevada this year and 16th since 2009. The state's early-voting period starts Oct. 20. Those early voters are "a key priority for us," Psaki said.

"We are focused on it," she said, adding Obama "will make the case for why he is a better choice for the American people."

She declined to reveal the president's strategy for Wednesday's debate in Denver to avoid giving the Romney campaign any edge.

"But I will say the president and Mitt Romney clearly look at the debates as a very different opportunity," Psaki said. "The president sees this as an opportunity to continue his conversation with the American people as he has been doing over the last several months, including at the convention, which was probably our largest audience to date.

"This will be a very large audience. He wants to speak directly to the families of people who are on their couches at home, having snacks, drinking a beer, drinking soda whatever it is, and tuning in for the first time. That's who he is speaking directly to."

She noted the Romney campaign is counting on a game-changing performance loaded with "zingers."

"That is not what the president's focus is on," she said. "If you are expecting that, that is probably not what he is going to deliver on. He is speaking directly to the American people and we know what they want to hear is what his plan is for moving the country forward."

She said Obama's debate team, which includes David Axelrod, Joel Benenson, Anita Dunn, Ron Klain and Sen. John Kerry. has been reviewing past Romney debate performance and has been working on getting the president to tighten up his answers.

"It is something he is well aware of and his team has pointed out to him that he needs to work on tightening and shortening his answers," she said.

Psaki said she found it odd the Romney campaign has said it will be watching for Obama "to just spew lies during the debate" when the Romney team has said it is not "going to be dictated by facts."

"They have driven months of their campaign through bold-faced lies whether it is on welfare, whether it is on Medicare," she said.

Psaki said Obama will be returning to Ohio and Wisconsin, both swing states, in the coming weeks.

Follow us on Twitter at @UPIDebates for complete UPI.com coverage of the 2012 Presidential Debates.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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