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Romney plays down expectations before debate

/ Source: NBC News

Mitt Romney used his final scheduled public appearance before Wednesday's first presidential debate to dismiss the expectations game played by both campaigns in recent weeks and to rally supporters with retooled economic rhetoric geared towards middle class voters.

"People want to know who’s going to win," Romney said of the debate at the nearby University of Denver. "Who’s going to score the punches and who’s going to make the biggest difference in the arguments they make."

"There’s going to be all the scoring of winning and losing, and you know, in my view, it’s not so much winning and losing or even the people themselves — the president and myself — it’s about something bigger than that," Romney continued, dismissing the parlor game of expectations-setting that has defined much of the political discourse in recent days.

In his own form of spin, Romney said he was "delighted" about the chance to debate President Obama three times in the next month and declared that the debates, taken in sum, would "be conversation with the American people that will span almost an entire month."

Before a raucous crowd of more than 5,000 supporters, Romney infused his economic talking points with a middle-class focus that perhaps spoke to the recent debate prep designed to refine his message to best appeal to undecided voters.

"Income is down some $ 4,300 dollars a family and with a median income of about $50,000 dollars that means things are really tough for the American people," Romney said. "The middle class squeeze has been unbearable. Gasoline prices way up; food prices up; electricity prices up; health insurance prices up. The American middle class is struggling under this president."

In interviews before the event, Colorado supporters uniformly told NBC News that if Romney needed to show more of a personal understanding of middle class life on Wednesday if he wanted to siphon support from the president.

"I really think that Mitt needs to be more personal with the American people," said Renee Salza, a Realtor and Republican who is supporting Romney. "I think a lot of people feel he's somewhat aloof and disconnected from everyday Americans."

Romney, who referenced Colorado's defense community at NORAD and the Air Force Academy, was also joined by a state icon of a different sort, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who endorsed Romney in a brief on-stage appearance.

“I must say today has been a very good day, not only because of what happened yesterday," Elway said, referencing the Broncos' thrashing of rival Oakland yesterday, "because I get the opportunity to introduce to you the next president of the United States, Governor Mitt Romney.”