First of all, Barack Obama needs to make sure he does not fall off the stage tonight.
Outside of that, the challenge for the president is three fold:
One, keep the answers short.
Two, connect policy accomplishments to American stories in the manner that the campaign promoted health care beneficiaries during the convention.
Three, hammer Mitt Romney for being secretive, devoid of specifics and, most importantly, tie Romney to Paul Ryan.
Attaching Mitt Romney to Paul Ryan’s budget was a goal of the campaign all along. The Obama campaign began the effort during the GOP primaries.
But Romney built an easy path for the president to attach his opponent to the highly unpopular Tea Party House of Representatives.
After all, Paul Ryan is a leader of the little wind up toys of the do nothing Congress. And Romney put him on the ticket.
Look for President Obama to point, correctly, at the Republican House as the source for the answers about what Mitt Romney wants to do.
As Grover Norquist said about the Republican primary, “We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget . . . We just need a president to sign this stuff . . . Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.”
That could not be a better description of the Romney/Ryan campaign.
Mitt Romney has, to date, run a campaign devoid of policy specifics. I speculated today in my Romney write up that Mitt might try to play it cute and announce policy during the debate.
But the fact is that Romney’s agenda is the House agenda because the House agenda is the Republican agenda and the platform of the GOP.
Last week in Ohio a frustrated Mitt Romney encouraged a small crowd at an airport rally to chant “Romney/Ryan” instead of “Ryan, Ryan, Ryan…”.
On Wednesday Mitt will not have the same problem. President Obama will no doubt look to fill in the many blanks in the Romney agenda with his running mates plans.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.