Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is setting a low bar for President Barack Obama's debate performance, saying that he only needs to be "believable" to be re-elected.
The former House Speaker on Friday told MSNBC that GOP hopeful Mitt Romney would need a "very strong debate" to even have a chance at the White House.
"They're whistling past the graveyard," Gingrich said of the Romney campaign. "I think that everybody I've talked to agrees that he's had two and a half very tough weeks. I do agree, I think they started with the Clinton speech [at the Democratic Convention] and then they got compounded by all the other stuff that happened."
"I do think in all fairness to Romney, when it got to be a crisis in Florida [during the Republican primaries], he was very good in the debates," he explained. "That better be the Romney that goes to the debate with Barack Obama."
"It has to be a campaign of contrast, not a campaign of attack," Gingrich added. "Part of the contrast has to be disarming the president because if the president's believable -- this is where Clinton was so good -- if the president is believable at the end of the first debate, there's a very high likelihood that he going to get re-elected."
In a memo to surrogates on Thursday, Romney senior adviser Beth Myers tried to set very low expectations for Romney's performance at the debates.
"President Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker, and is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history," Myers wrote, insisting that Obama had a "significant advantage" because of his "ample rhetorical gifts."
(Nicole Add:) Newt has also generously given his unsolicited advice to Romney on how to conduct himself during the debates for maximum effectiveness. My favorite bit of advice?
Be assertive and be on offense against both Obama and his media
You can be on offense without being offensive.
The strongest reactions I got to my debates came from people who were desperate for someone to stand up to the media and redefine the questions and reframe the assumptions.
Americans are sick and tired of the unending liberalism and suffocating groupthink of the elite media.
If you look at my strongest applause lines virtually every one was taking on the media.
If you caught on to Newt's one trick pony back during the Republican primaries, you were not mistaken. However, how well did that work for Newt? Sad that he thinks this same advice that didn't help him win the primaries will give Romney the edge.