By Reid Cherlin, GQ
With the debate starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, the last few hours of candidate crunch-time are upon us. President Obama has been holed up in Nevada preparing, presumably in full-on mock debate mode. But that's just the final stage; prep in the larger sense has been going on in some form for weeks. So what are Obama's study habits? This morning I put that question to a well-connected former White House colleague who was involved in many similar processes (and didn't want to be identified by name).
GQ: Any sense of how prep is going?
A: He's much more on it, from what I hear. You know how usually, for interviews and stuff, he would read his shit, but not really? He's been very engaged this time -- on substance and factual questions I think he realizes that it's kind of his last hurrah, so he's putting in the prep work.
GQ: What does that look like, day to day?
A: From what I understand, it's about how they would do it for big interviews. He's been getting these big briefing books for weeks. They go up [to the residence] with the rest of his materials, and he reads them at night in the Treaty Room [the president's private study]. Then he'll send them back with follow-up questions.
GQ: He has a reputation for not necessarily loving prep work.
A: I think if he thinks it's a substantive issue, he never minded prepping. Like for 60 Minutes, and things like that. I think what he hates about it is knowing that someone is going to jam you on whatever thing, and he just wants to make sure he has the talking points for everything nailed down.
My fear is -- and I'm sure this is everyone's fear -- is that he'd be like, "I don't need to prep; I know this; I've been getting briefings 10 times a day for four years." But apparently he's been better.
GQ: Does he have any funny study habits? Like crushing Ben & Jerry's or whatever?
A: No. He's so boring. He never eats anything.
This story originally appeared on GQ.com: The GQ & A: How Obama Preps
More from GQ:
Denzel Washington on Romney and Obama
The 50 Most Powerful People in Washington
GQ's Glenn O'Brien Assesses Republican Presidential Candidate Style
The GQ Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Wearing Ties