Romney advisers have been mostly mum about debate preparation, which has been held sporadically in rural Vermont over the past few weeks. But I keep hearing one takeaway from those who are close to the sessions: Senator Rob Portman of Ohio is an ace, and he has challenged Romney more than Romney expected, which has pleased the governor. Portman’s Obama impressions and his ability to get rather aggressive with the Republican nominee have enthused Romney. Sources say Romney absolutely hates being badgered, but Portman’s task has been to boost Romney’s confidence and thicken his skin.
Yeah, but the best debaters actually believe what they’re saying. There’s this other nugget of just how dumb the Romney campaign is:
Romney’s campaign sees the “47 percent” story as unhelpful and distracting, but not as a damaging, campaign-ending scandal. As a fourth adviser tells me: Romney got out in front, didn’t apologize, and is still in a dead heat in the polls. “He’s already moved on, and the campaign isn’t obsessing about this,” the adviser says. The adviser compares the videos to Romney’s tax returns, which dominated the Washington chatter but didn’t have a major impact on the campaign.