Los Angeles Times:
President Obama has blocked out three days to prepare for the October debates, but with the constant pressures that come with one of the world's most important jobs, aides worry he may not get enough practice at the podium.
The debate retreat, scheduled to start Sunday in Henderson, Nev., a suburb that sprawls away from Las Vegas, includes time for the daily battery of presidential meetings, leaving room for three afternoon debate sessions — if no crises flare up. Obama has already canceled some debate preparation because of events in the Middle East, said Jen Psaki, his campaign press secretary.
"He has had to balance the management of world events, governing, time out campaigning," she said. "He'll have less time than we anticipated to sharpen and cut down his tendency to give long, substantive answers."
That's the polite way to say the former University of Chicago law professor and U.S. senator can be wordy, a concern among his aides, who believe Republican Mitt Romney will be a serious debate adversary.(...) The president has been deeply immersed in virtually every aspect of the U.S. government for four years. He has not only executed policy, but has also routinely explained it to the American people and debated it with prominent GOP opponents.
Allan Louden, a professor of political communications and a presidential debate expert at Wake Forest University, said that didn't mean Obama would be able to make his argument in an eloquent, pithy way. "True preparation is about familiarity with the material," he said. "It takes practice to make your most important points in a concise, memorable way."
During debate preparation, candidates practice rhetorical maneuvers to corner an opponent as well as solid comebacks to attacks, Louden said.
But debates aren't just scripted performances, he said. "Debates, as much as they're about prepared material, have a sneaky way of letting you see the person," Louden said. "That's what's so great about them."
Romney has had more recent practice than Obama, having participated in numerous debates during the rough-and-tumble GOP primary, and Obama analysts think he displayed a talent for landing sharp attacks and rejoinders. To some degree, that assessment reflects a concerted effort by the White House political team to downplay expectations for the president.But Obama's political advisors don't seem to be faking their angst about his schedule. The tug of war over Obama's time inevitably pits them against administration officials as they put together the daily calendar.