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Weekend Messaging Memo - Debate Expectations

Sean Spicer - September 28, 2012


FROM: RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer |@SeanSpicer

TO: Interested Parties

RE: Weekend Messaging Memo - Debate Expectations

Wednesday, America will watch the first of this election's three presidential debates. So this week we have a message for President Obama's debate prep partner, Sen. John Kerry, and for those who will watch the debate.

A Message for Senator Kerry

Senator, a few tips as you head into debate prep with the president this weekend:

  • Get answers on Libya. You circulated a letter yesterday demanding answers from the administration on the attacks in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. We share your frustration and suggest you ask the president in person why his administration for days were explicit in blaming only the video for the attacks, before now linking them to terrorism (though the president still has not addressed this himself).
  • Ask about Syria. While you probably shouldn't bring up your intimate dinner with President Assad, you should certainly hold the president accountable for lacking a clear policy as the violence there continues.
  • Press him on tax increases. As a failed candidate who ran on tax increases, you well know how politically treacherous it is to call for tax hikes on the American people. Needless to say, the president's job-killing tax plans are a serious vulnerability.
  • Don't get lost in his eloquence. President Obama is undoubtedly a gifted political orator, whose eloquence can obscure his lack of substance. His experience in one-on-one presidential debates is unrivaled--winning all three in the 2008 general election.

A Message for Debate Viewers

Unlike 2008, President Obama goes into the debates with a record. But it's a record he'd rather not talk about: persistently high unemployment, vanishing opportunity, skyrocketing debt, a shrinking middle class, and simmering international turmoil.

In the face of these crises, Americans deserve a debate on the issues, but President Obama is unlikely to oblige. Instead we can expect him to lob misleading attacks at Gov. Romney while dismissing the disappointments of the last four years. And he will ignore the standards he set for himself as a candidate.

In 2008, then-Senator Obama insisted he understood the problems we faced and that he would be able to fix them in a single term. That was the justification of his candidacy, and he asked us to take him at his word.

It was a message he echoed after taking office in the now-famous interview of early 2009: "If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition."

Today, he insists he didn't fully understand the problems, but if given more time, he can fix them. He couldn't keep his promises the last time around, yet he's once again asking voters to take him at his word.

This is in stark contrast to Gov. Romney. With the governor, you don't have to take him only at his word that he can get the job done. You can look at his record.

It begins with a successful time in the private sector building companies, saving businesses, and creating jobs--what President Clinton called "a sterling business career."

From there, he saved the Salt Lake City Olympics, turning scandal into success and debt into surplus. He brought pride to a nation still reeling from 9/11.

As governor of Massachusetts, he got results. He found a $3 billion shortfall, but he left the state with $2 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. He balanced every budget, cut taxes, reduced spending, and presided over significant job growth.

When he took office, Massachusetts was 51st in the country in job creation, dead last behind the District of Columbia. When the left, the state had moved to 30th, and the unemployment rate had decreased to 4.7 percent.

All the while, Gov. Romney found ways to work across the aisle. The state legislature was 85 percent Democrat, but unlike President Obama he didn't just talk about bipartisanship. He practiced it.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a solid plan for economic growth, a five point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class. It encompasses North American energy independence, deficit reduction, education and job training, trade that works for America, and championing small business.

President Obama doesn't have a plan. He only has warmed-over broken promises masquerading as a plan. All we really know President Obama would do in a second term is raise taxes and increase spending--just more of the same.

They say talk is cheap. But America has paid steep prices for the president's talk: $5.4 trillion in new debt and 43 months of unemployment over 8 percent.

Americans cannot afford four more years like the last four years. There's no debate about that.

P.S. Welcome back, refs.


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