BEDFORD, Mass. – When he takes the debate stage next week, Mitt Romney knows viewers at home, not to mention the media, will obsess over his one-liners and the color of his tie.

But, the Republican nominee told reporters Friday, he is counting on people paying attention to the conversation he has with President Obama as well.

“I know that in debates there’s always interest in the theatrics, if you will – the one-liners, the jokes, and who wore what color tie and so forth,” Romney told reporters aboard his campaign plane. He looked down and noted that the blue patterned tie he was wearing was a gift from Peter Flaherty, a longtime political adviser.

Asked what he could do at the Oct. 3 debate in Denver to change the trajectory of the campaign, Romney said he believes voters will listen closely to the substance of the exchange. 

“The American people will listen carefully to the conversation that’s held over three debates and the fourth, with the vice presidential debate,” Romney said. “They’ll decide who can help their family, who will be able to get our economy going in the way it could be going and they’ll make a decision based on what they believe is in the best interest of the country and their own family. And I expect to be able to describe that in a way people will understand – and if they do, I’ll get elected.”

Romney made his comments during his flight home to the Boston area, where he is planning to stay off the campaign trail through the weekend to prepare for the first debate. On Monday, he is scheduled to fly to Denver, where he is to hold a rally that night and then hunker down on Tuesday to further prepare.

When a reporter asked if he was ready, having been preparing since June, Romney said, “I’m looking forward to the debates, I’ll put it that way.”