Romney camp: We don't expect Obama to 'come out like a lamb'

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 4:58pm

Mitt Romney appears to be gearing up for what could be another feisty debate and another aggressive performance from President Obama, a top campaign adviser tells CNN.

"I don't think he will come out like a lamb," a senior Romney strategist said.

After his listless showing at the first presidential debate in Denver, Obama adopted a much more confrontational posture during his second face-off with Romney in Hempstead New York, aiming a series of tough rhetorical jabs at the Republican nominee.

The town hall venue allowed the two candidates to physically confront each other on stage. At one point during the New York debate, both men appeared to viewers to be in each other's personal space.

However, with the third and final showdown set for a roundtable discussion on foreign policy with moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS, a senior Romney adviser said the subdued setting may help to tone down some of last week's aggressive body language.

Still, another Romney debate adviser acknowledged the two candidates are "competitive," opening up the possibility of pointed exchanges across the table.

During days of debate preparations in Delray Beach, Florida, a Republican source says the GOP contender's sparring partner, Ohio Senator Rob Portman has tried to get under Romney's skin to prepare him for what could be another rough and tumble round with the president.

The Obama campaign has signaled the president will accuse Romney of seeking "endless war." Romney has advocated a more confrontational posture with Iran to halt that nation's nuclear program. He has also called for a final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after listening to commanders on the ground.

The Romney campaign has indicated the former Massachusetts governor will aggressively challenge the president's handling of foreign policy. Hours before the debate, the campaign released a web video reminding voters of the president's now infamous comments to former Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev, when Obama said he would have "flexibility" after the election to deal with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Bill Burton, who runs the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA, said it's likely the president will stick with his more in-your-face style. "I don't think anybody expects them to tone it down," Burton said.

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