Obama campaign opens up about Biden's debate prep

AP News
Posted: Oct 11, 2012 8:45 PM
Obama campaign opens up about Biden's debate prep

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's campaign signaled their first debate strategy shift Thursday in a tweet.

Hours before the vice presidential debate, the campaign sent out a photograph on Twitter of Joe Biden rehearsing for the primetime event. There was the vice president, sitting side-by-side with his practice partner on a set designed to look like the debate stage at Centre College, where he and Republican running mate Paul Ryan would later face off.

That simple picture — and a flurry of other details the campaign released about Biden's pre-debate preparations — were a sharp departure from the campaign's approach in the lead-up to Obama's first debate with Mitt Romney. The campaign was so secretive about the president's preparation that they would barely confirm that he was practicing at all.

"We're all going to bang our heads against the wall here for the next 48 hours," Jennifer Psaki, Obama's campaign spokeswoman, told reporters peppering her with questions about the president's preparations two days before the debate.

"I'm not going to lay out how it's going or what's happening, because obviously our focus is on making sure he has what he needs," she added.

All of that secrecy didn't help Obama's performance, which was largely panned.

So the campaign took a sharply different approach ahead of Biden's debate.

The campaign let reporters talk to Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who was playing the role of Ryan in practice sessions at a Wilmington, Del., hotel. And they leaked a series of colorful details about how Biden was spending the days leading up to the debate.

He bought subs from Capriotti's, a Wilmington institution, for lunch. He kept a supply of M&Ms and animal crackers on hand, as well lots of Gatorade, coffee and tea.

Aides joked that Biden and Van Hollen were so in sync that they showed up to debate preparations wearing the exact same outfit: a navy blue blazer with gold buttons and a light blue shirt. No ties.

Getting back to the food, campaign aides said the vice president carbo-loaded the night before the debate with some lasagna prepared with a little assistance from Biden's grandson, Hunter.

And in the hours before the debate, Biden retreated to a friend's home near the debate site in Danville, Ky. They fired up the grill and cooked some chicken, with spaghetti with marinara sauce and salad on the side.

But campaign officials, reverting back to their previous posture, were mum on whether they would be similarly forthcoming about Obama's preparations ahead of his next debate on Tuesday.


Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC