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Monday, September 24, 2012 - 1:06pm
A senior Obama campaign adviser said Mitt Romney has a leg up on President Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential debates.
"Mitt Romney I think has an advantage, because he's been through 20 of these debates in the primaries over the last year," Gibbs said Sunday on Fox News.
Romney and Obama face off for the first time on October 3 in Denver.
The Republican presidential nominee last took part in a debate on February 22, when CNN hosted a debate in Arizona. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were also on stage with Romney.
"Having been through this much more recently than President Obama, I think he starts with an advantage," Gibbs said.
On Air Force One on Monday, Obama campaign press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Romney was doing more preparation for the debates "than any candidate in modern history."
"They've made clear that his performing well is a make-or-break piece for their campaign," Psaki said of the Romney team's efforts.
She also alluded to one piece of Obama's debate preparation confirmed last weekend by David Axelrod, a campaign senior adviser.
"He's got to speak shorter, that's all," Axelrod told Reuters. "He just hasn't had to do that for the last four years, so that's a part of the discipline of preparing for these debates."
While the Democratic convention was going on earlier this month, Romney spent several days off the campaign trail to prepare for the debates.
The Republican presidential nominee said he expects his biggest obstacle will be the degree of Obama's accuracy during the showdowns.
"I think the challenge that I'll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren't true," Romney said September 14 on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who was on Romney's short list of potential running mates, was tapped to play the role of Obama in debate practice for Romney. Portman also assumed the same role in 2008 during Sen. John McCain's run against Obama.
Asked if Romney had a difficult time in his first couple of rounds of preparation, Romney said he would not reveal "those kind of secrets."
"But I will never debate Rob Portman again," Romney said, laughing.