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September 30th, 2012
02:14 PM ET

SOTU Crib Sheet for September 30

With only a few days until the first presidential debate, both campaigns are working to shape expectations. Senator John McCain, a man who has debated both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, said he doubted the debate Wednesday night would provide a game-changing moment. "I can't remember the last time there was one of these comments that grabbed everybody's attention because, frankly, the candidates are too well prepared. They're well scripted," McCain said.

On the foreign policy front, Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod defended the administration’s initial reaction to the violence in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. “I was kind of shocked to see Representative King attack Ambassador Rice for what she said last Sunday here and elsewhere, because she was acting on the intelligence that was given to her by the intelligence community.” McCain argued that the administration's initial reaction had "certain political overtones."

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) expressed confidence in Todd Akin’s Senate candidacy despite a series of controversial remarks. “I think at the end of the day, that race does largely become a debate about the majority in the Senate." Blunt went on to say that any other Republican candidate would be leading in the polls, adding that "Todd very well may win."

State of the Union Highlights

Sen. John McCain, (R) Arizona
“I think sometimes we expect a major breakthrough, you know, the comment that – that doesn’t happen very often. It happened with Reagan and Mondale. It happened with Reagan and carter. But frankly, I can’t remember the last time there was one of these comments that grabbed everybody’s attention because, frankly, the candidates are too well-prepared. They’re well scripted.”
 
Sen. John McCain, (R) Arizona, on the Obama administration changing its assessment of the Libya attack
“I think there are certain political overtones. How else could you trot out our U.N. ambassador to say this was a spontaneous demonstration?”
Crowley: “Maybe they thought that at the time.”
McCain: “Five days later? That doesn’t pass the smell test. It was, either willful ignorance or abysmal intelligence to think that people come to spontaneous demonstrations with heavy weapons, mortars, and the attack goes on for hours.”
 
David Axelrod, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser
“I was kind of shocked to see Representative King attack Ambassador Rice for what she said last Sunday. She was acting on the intelligence that was given to her by the intelligence community. To say she should resign – she is one of the most remarkable, splendid public servants we have – that’s thoroughly irresponsible.”
 
David Axelrod, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser
“The fact is we’ve had a strategy that we’ve executed from the beginning. I think it’s been effective and ultimately, we’re ahead because the American people believe that this president has in his mind and in his heart the middle class and how to rebuild an economy that works for the middle class in this country and that is fundamental in what they’re looking for.”
 
Sen. Roy Blunt, (R) Missouri on Rep. Todd Akin staying in the Missouri senate race
“I think at the end of the day, that race largely becomes a debate about the majority in the Senate. Harry Reid is majority leader. What happens there? I think that becomes really big in that race. Frankly, I think that anybody else would have been a candidate that clearly would have won, and Todd may very well win. He is on a ticket at a time when people are looking at a Senate that’s not doing its work, and the only way to change the Senate is to change the majority in the Senate.”
 
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) Maryland on governorships that could change from Democratic to Republican this year
“We’re being greatly outspent in virtually every state and we’re defending 11 states, not in some of them, not in the friendliest terrains for President Obama. But as we saw last year in Kentucky, a state that where the president did not prevail, our candidate was all about jobs, all about bringing people together to make the tough decisions to expand the economy and create jobs and we’ve prevailed. So I think you’re going to see our candidates come through in this election.”

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