Meantime, in a bid to lower expectations for the president’s performance, the Obama campaign is putting forth half a dozen reasons why their guy is at a disadvantage.

Aides note the president hasn’t debated in four years, and they argue he was better prepared in 2008, having debated Hillary Clinton one-on-one during their primary contest. Even then, he had some bad moments, like when he dismissively told then-Sen. Clinton “you’re likable enough.”

His campaign aides volunteer that Mr. Obama’s answers are typically long-winded—they say they are working on that. The president responded in 2010 to a question from a North Carolina woman who believed she was overtaxed with an answer that ran on for more than 17 minutes.

Plus, the Obama campaign says, Mr. Romney is a debate champ! Mr. Romney himself trumpeted his debate prowess as one reason for Republicans to nominate him to face Mr. Obama, and his debate performance in Florida was a key to his primary victory in the state.