In the campaigns' rush to downplay expectations for their candidates, the Wall Street Journal reports President Bush and Sen. John Kerry "have one thing in common: Neither has lost a debate when it really counted. At key moments in their political careers, the president and his Democratic challenger exceeded low expectations in pivotal debates." At the other end of the expectations game, the Washington Post notes that although many millions of viewers will watch the debates, their "perceptions can shift as commentators, analysts and spinners chew things over and selected sound bites are endlessly replayed on television, creating 'moments' that may not have seemed particularly dramatic at the time." The Post quoted Bush adviser Stuart Stevens, who said, "After the debates, it's not really over, it's halftime. The postgame spin helps frame the next debate as well.'" And in a USA Today op-ed, former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sandy Grady said, "You can count on two premises: The smart guy usually loses. The likable guy always wins." So "never mind issues or facts."
Bush Takes Time Out From Debate Prep For Fishing.
The Bush and Kerry campaigns both spent time on debate preparations yesterday. The ABC Evening News reported John Kerry and President Bush "each spent some of today prepping for the first debate on Thursday night. And playing a little, if they could, with the other campaign's mind. President Bush, said his staff, is perfectly relaxed and went fishing today." The Washington Post says aides "portrayed Bush as relaxed as he headed into the first debate, saying he had settled on what he wanted to say during four formal rehearsals that began in July and ended Saturday." John Kerry "also stayed out of sight as he prepared for the debate with advisers at the House on the Rock Resort in Spring Green, Wis." Meanwhile, The Hill reports Sen. Judd Gregg, Bush's stand in for Kerry, "can keep his mouth shut," and would not reveal Bush's strategy for the upcoming debates.