Romney will spend next week doing debate prep

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

JACKSONVILLE—As Democrats hold their national convention in Charlotte next week, Mitt Romney will be off the trail preparing for this fall's debates with President Barack Obama.

The Republican nominee will spend Sunday and Monday at his vacation home in Wolfeburo, N.H. doing debate prep. Romney will then travel to Reading, Vt., where he will continue debate rehearsal at a home owned by Kerry Healey, who served as Romney's lieutenant governor in Massachusetts.

Kevin Madden, a senior Romney adviser, told reporters the GOP nominee is currently scheduled to spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Vermont. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who is set to portray Obama in Romney's debate rehearsals, will be on hand to work with the GOP nominee.

While Romney has already been doing debate prep with senior advisers, it's believed this is the first time he's worked with Portman, who was on Romney's short list for his vice-presidential running mate.

Romney's decision to lay low during the Democratic National Convention comes after days of mixed signals about whether or not he would campaign in the days before Obama officially accepts his party's nomination for re-election.

Initially, Romney aides said he would not have a public schedule during the DNC. But when Obama decided to embark on a bus tour during the Republican National Convention, Romney aides indicated the GOP candidate would campaign during his opponent's convention.

But Madden indicated Saturday Romney would not campaign—though he said there was still a possibility of a public schedule. The campaign's most visible face next week may be Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, who is scheduled to campaign in Greenville, N.C., Monday and Iowa later in the week.

On Saturday, Romney and Ryan returned to Florida, where they appeared before a rally of a few thousand people along the waterfront in downtown Jacksonville.

Romney pointed to the upcoming Democratic convention and asked supporters to talk to people who voted for Obama in 2008 and remind them of the promises the president made in his DNC speech four years ago. And, echoing a speech he delivered in Cincinnati earlier Saturday, he made a sports analogy about the upcoming election.

"I don't like the way this game is going under this president," Romney said. "It's time that we get a new leader who understands how to get America working again. I do!"