President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney are scaling back campaign plans this week as they gear up for the first of three presidential debates scheduled to take place in Denver, Wednesday.
At a rally last night in Las Vegas, the president tried to lower expectations.
"I know folks in the media are speculating already on who's going to have the best zingers," to which his supporters yelled, "You are!"
"I don't know about that," Obama replied. "Gov. Romney, he's a good debater."
The Romney camp is also trying to manage expectations.
"President Obama is a very gifted speaker," vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told "Fox News Sunday." "The man's been on the national stage for many years. He's an experienced debater, (and) he's done these kinds of debates before. This is Mitt's first time on this kind of a stage."
But the Democratic leadership has admitted that it thinks Romney will win the first debate, even as a new poll shows almost two thirds of Americans think the president will be re-elected.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll out Monday shows the president winning the expectations game, with 63 percent of registered voters predicting he'll win the election.
But among likely voters, the race is much closer. Obama leads Romney 49 to 47 in the ABC poll. And in the Rasmussen poll, among voters who have already made up their minds, Obama trails 43-42.
The close polls mean the debate could be the pivotal turning point the Romney campaign is looking for.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicted on ABC's "This Week" that Romney will close the gap with Obama after a strong showing at Wednesday's debate.
"I have absolute confidence that when we get to Thursday morning, all of you are going to be shaking your head, saying it's a brand new race, with 33 days to go," he said.
Obama, who has been known to rely on teleprompters for his public speaking, is holding debate prep in Nevada and is reportedly working on keeping his answers short and concise.
"The president's just got to be the president," former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean told ABC's "This Week." "This is a guy who killed Osama bin Laden. I think he can probably stand up to Mitt Romney, but he's got to relax."
The three October debates will give Romney plenty of chances to overtake the president. The first begins at 9 p.m. ET, Oct. 3.