A large number of undecided voters are expected to tune to watch the first presidential debate this week. While it is common practice for candidates to downplay their own oratorical aptitude in the days leading up to a debate, in this case each candidate appears to have worked particularly hard to ensure that audience expectations for his debate performance are at an all-time low.
When asked how he was preparing for his upcoming debate during a recent campaign stop in Iowa, Romney told reporters that on recommendation from his advisers, he has considered “hollowing out a molar and filling it with cyanide gas, for use in the event that suicide becomes a more appealing option than continuing to debate the brutal, ruthless interrogation-robot known as President Obama.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney released a statement in response, claiming that “due to his dread of Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s unsurpassed and arguably terrifying rhetorical prowess, Barack Obama has been unable to eat or sleep for the past four days. Instead, he has remained crouched in a corner of the Lincoln Bedroom, rocking back and forth and slowly pulling out his eyelashes. Every time we try to prepare him for the debate, Barack bashes his head against the wall until we promise to go away. We’re really not sure how the President is going to fare on Wednesday night, but in all honesty, it’s not looking good.”
Despite the fact that he has participated vigorously in a number of debates prior to the Republican primary in 2012 and has made speeches during countless public appearances throughout his political career, Romney has put even his ability to verbalize at all into question.
“You may not be aware of this, but Mitt Romney is in fact a single-celled organism, barely capable of performing the basic bodily functions required for survival,” said a voice-over during a recent television ad released by Romney supporters. “The fact that he is expected to appear in the same room as a silver-tongued, inconceivably brilliant and Socratic-level arguer such as Barack Obama, acts as a testament to his courage in even accepting such an insurmountable challenge.”
Commentators on both sides of the aisle have expressed disappointment and incredulity at the lengths to which both candidates have gone to prove themselves unfit for debate.
“The way he’s been talking himself down, at this point I’ll be impressed if Romney can get through his opening statement without crying hysterically or soiling himself,” said political analyst Michael Litt.
As of press time, a radio ad from the Obama campaign claiming that at this point the President can barely remember his own name, let alone his stance on foreign policy, was seeing heavy play on the airwaves in many swing states. “I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message, even though I can barely understand it and am in constant danger of choking on my own tongue,” the candidate stated at the end of the ad.