Normally, presidential campaigns are hell-bent on spinning everything as a win for their side, even a clear loss. While that certainly will be the case in the moments following Wednesday night's first presidential debate, the opposite is true leading into it.
Both sides want to make sure expectations for their candidates' performances are as low as possible, that way, no matter what they say or do it will seem successful. It's the "you get a medal just for showing up" strategy. Or, as Jon Stewart put it on Monday's "Daily Show", "All these guys have to do is show themselves to have a mild familiarity with the English language and it's considered a win."
However, there were two minor hiccups in this plan on Romney's side: 1) Chris Christie didn't get the memo, and 2) someone leaked Romney's plans for some well-rehearsed zingers. Oh, well.