The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 15, 2012

Obama focuses on debate preparations

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — President Barack Obama hunkered down at a golf resort here over the weekend to prepare for the next debate, which his campaign acknowledges is critically important to stopping the momentum of Republican Mitt Romney.

Obama continued a tradition begun in Nevada by making an unscheduled trip Sunday afternoon to a local campaign office, where he delivered pizzas and rallied his field workers and volunteers. The president made a similar stop in Henderson, Nev., two weeks ago, when he sequestered himself for three days of preparations before the first debate in Denver.

The preparations in Williamsburg have taken on an urgency in the aftermath of Obama’s seemingly lethargic performance in that debate, which was widely panned and prompted a surge for Romney in numerous national and swing-state polls. Although Obama had previously been ahead in most polls and the candidates remain neck-and-neck in most battlegrounds now, Obama and his advisers acknowledge that he must deliver a strong performance Tuesday at Hofstra University to regain momentum.

“I think he is going to make some adjustments on Tuesday,” campaign adviser David Axelrod said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that Obama will “be aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country.”

And on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said: “Obviously, the president was disappointed in his own performance. He didn’t meet his expectations.”

Obama arrived at Kingsmill Resort on Saturday morning, and he will remain until Tuesday before flying to Long Island, N.Y., to appear in the second of three televised debates with Romney. Obama is spending time each day preparing with his team, studying and practicing, according to the campaign. He was “excited” to get out of Washington, according to one adviser speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“This is a beautiful, quiet facility where he can still handle his governing responsibilities outside of the distractions of being at home,” the adviser said, adding that the president is “calm, focused and energized” and is spending time walking outside, as well as preparing for the debate.

The team is largely the same as the one that helped him in Nevada: Axelrod, senior White House adviser David Plouffe, longtime adviser Anita Dunn, Sen. John Kerry, Mass., and Washington lawyer and longtime Democratic debate coach Bob Barnett. National security adviser Ben Rhodes is helping with preparations because of the expected foreign-policy component at Tuesday’s town-hall-style debate. Kerry is playing the role of Romney and Dunn is playing CNN’s Candy Crowley, the debate’s moderator.

“The president is his own harshest critic, and he knows Mitt Romney had a better night at the first debate,” campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Sunday. “The American people should expect to see a much more energized President Obama making a passionate case for why he is a better choice for the middle class.”

The foreign-policy component is likely to focus on the recent events in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens were killed during a siege on Sept. 11. The administration is under renewed scrutiny amid questions of whether the U.S. consulate there was adequately protected and what the administration has known and said publicly about the origins of the attacks.

Vice President Joe Biden, in his debate Thursday with Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis., raised more questions by blaming intelligence reports on the administration’s belief that the attacks were the result of protests rather than the work of terrorists — an apparent contradiction of the State Department’s statement earlier in the week that officials there had received no reports of protests outside the U.S. compound in Benghazi before the attacks.

Romney has jumped on the story, and is sure to try to do so again Tuesday at Hofstra.

“There were more questions that came out last night because the vice president directly contradicted the testimony of State Department officials,” Romney told supporters Friday at a campaign event in Richmond, Va. “American citizens have a right to know just what’s going on.”

Obama’s debate preparations are taking place in the main building at Kingsmill, a sprawling golf resort along the James River featuring guest rooms and suites in free-standing villas that dot the golf course. Kerry was spotted early Sunday with a massive binder filled with color-coded spacers, and Axlerod was seen talking on his cellphone on the grounds.

Several other events are underway at the resort, including a medical conference and an event dubbed “Ferraris on the James.” Early Saturday, 11 Ferraris were spotted on the resort grounds, with their owners standing near their cars and valet attendants peering underneath.

During his stop at the campaign office, Obama was asked by the reporters following him how debate preparations are going, and he replied: “It’s going great!”

But the visit was more for the volunteers and field staff, whom he greeted with four boxes of pizza and a hearty “Hello, everybody, hello!” on entering the office.

After greeting workers in the reception area, Obama went into a smaller room where 11 workers were making calls. He lowered his voice.

“Hello, everybody,” he whispered. “If you’re not on the phone, take a break.” He kissed the women and shook hands with the men.

One man said he was from London. Obama offered: “London! I like that.”

Then he sat between two women and picked up the phone to make some calls. “I’m gonna do my work. Everybody’s so serious!” On a call, he said: “Is this Ellen? Ellen, this is Barack Obama! It is really, truly me.”

Text Only
  • High-flying Valley cheerleaders earn bid for international title

    WINFIELD — The Pennsylvania Elite Senior 5 all-star cheerleading squad’s floor routine doesn’t have a lot of what people might consider “cheering,” coach Brett Derr said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Snook suspension now a mystery

    MIDDLEBURG — Acting Midd-West Superintendent Daphne Snook is confused about what the school board is alleging she did that led to her suspension without pay, saying she hasn’t received anything in writing. “Nothing I have been told by the board in any way makes me believe that I violated district policy or the law,” Snook said by email Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Danville teacher strike starts today

    DANVILLE — Nearly four hours of negotiations could not prevent the first teacher strike at Danville in decades.

    April 17, 2014

  • Good Morning Central Susquehanna Valley

    Today is Thursday, April 17, the 107th day of 2014. There are 258 days left in the year. On April 17, 1964, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock became the first woman to complete a solo airplane trip around the world, returning to Columbus, Ohio, after 29 1/2 days and 21 stopovers in her Cessna 180.

    April 17, 2014

  • Ruling on torture could save Miranda Barbour's life

    SUNBURY — An attorney for homicide suspect Miranda Barbour filed a motion Wednesday in Northumberland County Court asking a judge to rule that murder victim Troy LaFerrara was not tortured before being killed.

    April 16, 2014

  • Investigation: Weapon used in attack on county prison officers

    SUNBURY — A “homemade metal weapon” was used in the attack against three corrections officers at the Northumberland County Prison on Friday, according to prison officials.

    April 16, 2014

  • Milton woman charged with endangering child

    MILTON — A Milton mom faces two misdemeanors after investigators said her 1-year-old suffered first- and second-degree burns while in her care and she failed to seek medical attention.

    April 16, 2014

  • Sunbury man critically injured in SUV crash

    SUNBURY — A driver was injured Tuesday night when his SUV careened off Mile Hill Road and down a steep 20-foot embankment, knocking over trees until it crashed and twisted around a large tree trunk.

    April 16, 2014

  • SUN Home Health and Geisinger ink merger plan

    NORTHUMBERLAND — Geisinger Community Health Services and SUN Home Health and Hospice announced today the signing of a comprehensive integration agreement by which SUN Home Health & Hospice will become part of the Geisinger health system.

    April 16, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

    WASHINGTON — Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.

    April 16, 2014

The Daily Marquee

Are you among those who will be completing and mailing your tax forms today?

No - Already Filed
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.