With the first presidential debate less than three weeks away, Mitt Romney is spending lots of time getting ready behind closed doors. In his first comments on that debate prep, he told me that Sen.Rob Portman is a tough stand-in for a president who basically lies in debates.
“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. “I’ve looked at prior debates. And in that kind of case, it’s difficult to say, ‘Well, am I going to spend my time correcting things that aren’t quite accurate? Or am I going to spend my time talking about the things I want to talk about?”
The former governor told me he’s tempted to use Ronald Reagan’s famous line against President Carter in a 1980 debate, “There you go again” – the same line that Bill Clinton turned on Romney and the Republicans at the Democratic convention in Charlotte.
When I asked if Portman was crushing him in early debate preps, Romney was coy.
“I’m not revealing those kind of secrets. But I will never debate Rob Portman again,” Romney said with a laugh.