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Maxwell Price, Barack Obama Impersonator, Cringes At President's Debate Performance

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Millions of Americans watched the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but perhaps none with the intensity of Jim Gossett and Maxwell Price.

The two men just happen to make their living impersonating the two candidates and a win on either side could mean four years of an income estimated to be higher than the $450,000 salary Obama makes being the leader of the free world.

Price, who has been impersonating Obama for four years, cringed at the president's performance, but is holding out hope that things will change in the next debate.

"He needs to be a little more aggressive," Price, a U.S. Army veteran, told The Huffington Post. "I hope and pray he does win. I do think he has something up his sleeve."

In order to prepare for what could be four years of work performing onstage, movies and TV, Price went through a rigorous training program conducted by Tim Watters, who made his name being a bogus Bill Clinton.

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As much as Price would have liked Obama to do better during the debate, Watters said a bad Obama performance makes for a funnier show for anyone impersonating him.

"You have to exaggerate a weakness, such as a character trait," Watters said. "For instance, Obama likes to say, 'Let me be clear.'"

Reggie Brown, who also impersonates Obama told HuffPost in January that the key to imitating the President is "confidence."

"You have to act like you know how to engage the room," he said, going on to divide the president's persona into discrete fragments, including "Campaign Obama," "Sincere Obama" and, when he's speaking to a large audience, "Martin Luther Obama."

The debate not only helped Romney, but helped Gossett, who has been trying to master his voice for the last few months.

"Romney is challenging," Gossett admitted to HuffPost. "Usually, he has a radio announcer's voice, but, last night, he adopted this halting voice like he was trying to be Reagan."

Dustin Gold, who runs Politicos Comedy, an organization that books political impersonators like Watters, Price and Gossett, also noticed another new Romney trait: stuttering.

"One of the things we noticed about Romney is that he has this stuttering, nervous laughter between his lines" Gold told HuffPost. "It also looks like Romney has been taking voice lessons from Reagan and is adopting his breathiness."

Gossett is ready to step in as a make-believe Mitt Romney, but admits he's trying to get ahead of myself.

"I had the best John Kerry impression around in 2004 and where did that get me?" he laughed.

Although presidential impersonators learned a lot from the debate, Watters doubts that the candidates can learn anything useful from their impersonators.

"If they want to do standup, we can help," Watters said. "If they want to lead the country, no."
 
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