First prep, then pizza delivery for Obama

President Obama spent Monday holed up in his hotel with advisers working on his debating skills, but he took a break in the late afternoon to deliver six pizzas to his campaign’s field office in Henderson, Nev.

Staff and volunteers were delighted when the president showed up with the pies. He hugged each and then delivered a pep talk, urging them to continue making calls and knocking on doors.

“It's going to be close all across the country. And obviously we've got the debates coming up,” Obama said. “There are going to be a number of other things we can't expect over the next couple of weeks."


“We’re going to get this done,” he added. “We’re going to win.”

The visit was not on Obama's daily schedule. He makes such trips to garner additional media attention, especially when he is on the road and eager to appeal to local media outlets, which pick up the pictures and video feeds for the local news. In a swing state during an election year, the president's campaign has been eager to put him in situations where he can interact with ordinary Americans, in part because they think it contrasts him with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who at times has appeared less comfortable in such settings.

After the pep talk, Obama sat down and made calls to volunteers to thank them for helping the campaign. One asked the president how his debate prep was going.

"We had a great prep, and it was a lot of fun,” he answered. “ Although basically they're keeping me indoors all the time. It's a drag. They're making me do my homework.”

That was more details than his aides offered in a briefing to reporters Monday. White House press secretary Jay Carney and campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki offered little information about the private sessions Obama held all day with his senior advisers at the Westin hotel in Henderson.

Instead, Obama’s aides fought back against an op-ed Romney authored in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that was critical of the president’s foreign policy record in the Middle East. Citing continued government-led violence in Syria, the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Libya that killed four Americans, and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Romney wrote:  “These developments are not, as President Obama says, mere ‘bumps in the road.’ They are major issues that put our security at risk.”

Responding to that column, Psaki said: “There was a lot of chest-thumping rhetoric, but not a lot of specifics about how he would lead the world and do things differently.”

Obama returned to his hotel after his visit to the campaign office. He will continue his debate prep Tuesday, before flying to Denver on Wednesday for the first debate against Romney that evening.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.
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