Opinion: Barack Obama to hunker down in Florida for debate prep this week


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Florida seems to be a favorite site for Democrats to practice presidential debating.

Sen. Barack Obama will spend more time there this week, as he sets up his debate camp in an important battleground state to prepare for the general election’s first presidential debate, coming up Friday in Mississippi.

As seemingly designed, millions of Americans are expected to not watch it, Friday nights in autumn often being set aside for things like high school football instead of watching Washington guys in suits arguing on TV.


Obama campaign aides are offering few details to the media but did confirm that Obama will be in the Tampa area as he works to get ready for what is nevertheless viewed as a critical moment in the fall campaign.

Greg Craig, an Obama advisor and foreign policy specialist, will play the role of Sen. John McCain in practice sessions.

Presidential candidates typically set up camp several days before a debate so that they can practice their lines and hone their seemingly spontaneous quips, as well as participate in mock sessions with advisors throwing expected attack lines and debate questions at them.

Former Vice President Al Gore also set up his debate camp in Florida, twice, during the 2000 presidential campaign. Gore was making a claim to the Sunshine State’s electoral votes -- which he lost to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush by 537 popular votes in a disputed election that took 36 days and the U.S. Supreme Court to settle.

So obviously the TV debates played a large role in that contest. Our Swamp colleague John McCormick has more history on this story over here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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