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2016 Presidential Election
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US Election Updates - September 17, 2012

Obama begins debate preparation

President Barack Obama has begun preparing for the upcoming presidential debates against his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Despite Obama's slight lead in the polls, the pressure in on for both candidates to perform well at the three debates this fall as they head into the November 6 elections.

According to the Obama camp, the president has been forced to cram in preparations along with governing and campaigning.

"We don't have the same luxury that Romney does in terms of time," said Obama's chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod.

Obama has been using flights to Nevada, Colorado and other election swing states on Air Force One to study Romney's positions and uses his evenings do the same when he’s at the White House.

"He's spent a lot of time reading material and most of it is familiarizing himself with what Governor Romney said in this campaign. I mean, he's pretty conversant with his own record but he wasn't very conversant with Romney's,” said Axelrod.

Obama will take part in mock debates against Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, who will play Romney.

His aides want him to work on being concise as opposed to his tendency to over-elaborate, which can put off TV viewers.

"He's got to speak shorter, that's all. 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,” added Axelrod.

The first debate at the University of Denver in Colorado on October 3 will focus on domestic policy. The second will take place at Hofstra University in New York state on October 16 and give audience members a chance to ask questions.

Vice President Joe Biden and Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan take part in the only vice presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky on October 11.

The final debate between Obama and Romney will be in Boca Raton, Florida on October 22 and will focus on foreign policy.