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Obama: No zingers

Politico’s Thrush looks specifically at President Obama as it relates to the debates. The president has been working on blunting his barbs nearly as much as he’s been trying to sharpen his policy responses in closed-door sessions led by his senior campaign adviser David Axelrod, former White House communications director Anita Dunn and Democratic debate guru Ron Klain, according to Democrats close to the president. Obama is an experienced debater but an inconsistent performer who is years out of practice, capable of projecting a calm, commanding image — or appearing bored, testy or condescending enough to snark out the unforgettable ‘You’re likeable enough, Hillary’ crack four years ago.”

Setting expectations: Obama said yesterday in Las Vegas, per the Wall Street Journal: “Gov. Romney, he’s a good debater. I’m just OK.”

He added, “‘I know folks in the media are speculating already who’s going to have the best zingers … who’s going to put the most points on the board.’ ‘You are,’ the audience shouted. ‘I don’t know about that,’ Mr. Obama replied. ‘But what I’m most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we need to do to keep the country going and restore security for hardworking Americans,’ he said. ‘That’s what people are going to be listening for. That’s the debate that you deserve.’”

“The killing of an American serviceman in an exchange of fire with allied Afghan soldiers pushed U.S. military deaths in the war to 2,000, a cold reminder of the perils that remain after an 11-year conflict that now garners little public interest at home,” the AP writes, adding, “According to the Afghanistan index kept by Brookings, about 40 percent of the American deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. The majority of those were after 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered a surge that sent in 33,000 additional troops to combat heightened Taliban activity.”