5 To-Dos for Obama Before His Next Debate

Blogging the Beltway: While the focus is on Biden vs. Ryan, the president should try a Tyra trick.

President Obama (Getty Images)
President Obama (Getty Images)

(The Root) — So we all know how the first presidential debate went, and for anyone who doesn’t know, feel free to click here. The bottom line: It didn’t go particularly well for the president. Some have argued that it was disastrous. So what should President Obama be doing between now and his next debate with Mitt Romney, while the focus is on this week’s vice presidential matchup?

1. Get Some Sleep

No, I’m not joking. As shallow as it may sound, half of winning a debate — or, frankly, any job interview (which is what a debate really is) — is looking the part. Famously, Richard Nixon lost his debate to John Kennedy, according to the majority of voters watching it on TV, while those who heard it on the radio thought Nixon had won. Nixon looked old and sweaty next to the youthful, vibrant-looking Kennedy.

I previously wrote that President Obama looked and sounded exhausted during his debate with Romney. To put it more bluntly, I am convinced that had someone who knew nothing about politics watched the debate with the sound off, he or she would have summarized it as “one guy looked like he needed a nap. The other one looked like he had the best night’s sleep ever.”

The president looked as if he had stayed up all night — the night before one of the most important job interviews of his life. Compared with Romney, who is the elder, the president looked older and slower — qualities that don’t exactly make Americans feel confident in a leader. The Barack Obama who spoke at a rally in Denver the following day looked and sounded energized and years younger. That Obama needs to show up at the next presidential debate, hopefully after having gotten a good night’s sleep. Or at least a power nap.

2. Ditch John Kerry

Ask any sports fans who they blame if their favorite sports team has a major, embarrassing loss, and they may say that their favorite quarterback deserves some of the blame, but they will also blame the coach. Well, after President Obama’s embarrassing performance at the debate, many are calling for his debate coach to be ditched.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president, played the role of Mitt Romney in their debate prep sessions. Many are now speculating that Kerry’s apparently lackluster prep may have left the president in danger of experiencing the same outcome as Kerry did in 2004: a loss. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman played the role of President Obama in Romney’s prep sessions. Let’s just say that in keeping with the sports analogy, Portman deserves a bonus, and Kerry may need to have his contract terminated.

3. Get Comfortable Attacking