Romney staying out of public eye this week for debate prep

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) and his wife Ann Romney talk on the campaign plane on September 1, 2012, en route to New Hampshire. Mitt Romney is going to his vacation home in New Hampshire for a few days off following the Republican National Convention and a few days of campaigning.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Mitt Romney, Ann Romney
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) and his wife Ann Romney talk on the campaign plane on September 1, 2012, en route to New Hampshire.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

(CBS News) As the Democratic National Convention swings into full gear, new Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney plans to spend much of the week in private preparing for the fall's debates with President Obama, with no public appearances currently planned.

After spending Sunday and Monday at his summer home on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee, Romney will travel to Reading, Vt., for several practice sessions at the home of Kerry Healey, who served as his lieutenant governor in Massachusetts. Joining them will be Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who was tapped recently by the Romney campaign to portray Obama in the mock sessions after the rave reviews he received for playing Obama during GOP nominee John McCain's debate prep in 2008.

Romney's campaign previously had said he would be making public appearances this week during the Democratic convention, but senior adviser Kevin Madden told reporters on Saturday that no public events are now on the schedule. However, he acknowledged that events could be added in the coming days.

While Romney will spend the week studying up, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will kick off his week a mere 250 miles from Charlotte with a trip to the eastern side of North Carolina, where campaign aides say he will ask voters, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

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After leaving North Carolina, according to news reports, Ryan will hold an event in the Cleveland area before taking his campaign to the place where Obama's presidential bid took off in 2007: Iowa. There he is expected to hold events in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.

Ryan will then travel to the West Coast to raise money. News reports of various fundraisers place the Wisconsin lawmaker in Utah on Sept. 5, the night before Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama address the convention, and in Northern California three days after that.

Although neither Romney nor Ryan will be in Charlotte, the Republican National Committee plans a robust effort there to counter Democrats' messaging. Several top Republican officials will hold a "counter-convention," including RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.

In addition to having a rapid-response team and releasing daily videos that will counter the Democratic message, the RNC plans additional gimmicks, such as a Romney-Ryan NASCAR race car (painted with a number 12 for 2012) as well as "You Build It" Lego sets and Monopoly games. Several staffers will also hand out tissues throughout Charlotte, because, the RNC says, "Breaking up is hard to do."

"We will ensure that voters hear the record of failed policies of this administration and provide a clear contrast with the Romney plan to get the economy moving and get people back to work. Team Obama can't say the country is better off after four years of Obama, and his top surrogates say the answer is no," said RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer.

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.