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-- President Obama and governor Romney are spending much of this weekend doing -- last minute preparation for next week's big debate.
Both campaigns seem to be trying to lower voter expectations.
Are they going too far Wallace asked presidential historian Douglas Brinkley who is joining us now live.
That's just great to have you here today.
-- good morning thanks for having me thank you for being here I know that you.
Offers some valuable insights about.
Presidential history and these debates.
The fact that they're trying to lower expectations already with the obamas -- already saying perhaps that Mitt Romney will win the first debate what do you think that says to the public.
Well that these are really becoming media pomp and her pick came -- to -- extravaganzas.
They have since.
On Nixon debate it was all -- really became a televised event at Richard Nixon won if you listened on radio but if you solve their body language on TV.
It was on Kennedy won there -- -- period of time there -- -- presidential debates on 19646872.
But back in 1976.
These debates came on again and they they can be game changer since.
1980 Ronald Reagan was where Romney was beyond behind in the polls.
-- Reagan came on it took on an incumbent president Jimmy Carter performed well on the debates.
And the rest is history he and -- as started him on his way to a landslide victory in 1980.
Do you think debate actually.
Help voters decide.
Which person to back if there are on offense as to which direction to go.
I think they make a difference particularly for Mitt Romney look Barack Obama whether you -- more dislike -- think he's a great leader think he's failed.
We kinda know what he's going to be like -- president we've had him for.
Three and a half years Mitt Romney still bit of an open book.
People have to say do I want to live with this guy every day is he going to be quick on its feet.
How prone is heating gaffes on does -- know how this far to -- show an inner toughness so in truth the pressure really is on Mitt Romney.
On this first debate to -- seemed to be at least get parity with President Obama world or victory -- in with the immediate.
-- and analysis after the game.
When you have.
A challenger going up against an incumbent president.
It doesn't that debate stage also make it possible for the challenger to also look presidential because you are going head to head with the leader of the free world.
Absolutely I think that's an advantage -- -- that in the column advantage.
Sitting president you immediately looked presidential your arriving at the presidential on trust to him to Denver.
On the other hand you've got to be careful you don't say anything at all all controversial or squirrelly because you're not just.
In -- debate you're representing the United States all over the world and if you see something bizarre.
It's -- -- be picked up everywhere so it allows in this case Mitt Romney to go be a little edge here in a put down or a statement -- his finger.
-- an anecdote that might be a little off color he can he could afford to take more risk.
Our President Obama is going to have to be very risk adverse and I'll just try not plan any of the Romney -- -- penetrate.
On the -- has around them.
Now both men are said to be very good debaters even though the Obama campaign is saying that.
The president has not had a debate in some time Mitt Romney has had twenty or more over this past election season.
Do you think.
There's a chance that Mitt Romney could be over prepared over confidence.
Well just like you know when you work.
Here fox -- some days you feel like you're on fire you just communion and everything works well and other days things just.
Go wrong I mean you can prepare prepare but it's nerve racking -- and -- -- the stakes are high they're more lights than really you've ever seen in your life.
On -- get on that stage you can freeze a little bit and you don't want to do it Al Gore did when he debated George W.
Bush in 2000 seem robotic her awkward.
I don't seem like you're you're one of those one of us.
On a -- -- Obama has developed the sort of zen like come unflappable demeanor it's hard to get him off that.
Game it's hard to -- him.
-- -- Mitt Romney needs to try to do that a little and I would hope that they prepared jokes Ronald Reagan was good at the jokes but you also have to know how to deliver the -- out of all the great jokes written but if you.
Same at the wrong minute it'll backfire.
That's -- next couple seconds left what's your favorite debate moment in history.
I'd like 1980 when Ronald Reagan said there you go again there's a whole Wikipedia site just on that -- could -- he kept using it as a way do.
Brow beat Jimmy Carter -- -- ever allowed Reagan to.
Just triumph in those debates in 1980 laugh -- his family and a -- fascinating indeed a great to talk way to say thank you so much for joining us.
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