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Michelle Obama praises the president's skills ahead of debate

As the presidential campaigns were downplaying expectations for their respective candidates' performance in Wednesday night's debate, their wives were building them back up.

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"He's a great speaker, you know? I mean he's good at this," Michelle Obama told CNN about her husband in an interview set to air ahead of the debate. "He doesn't need much advice." 

Ann Romney also had words of praise when asked whether she gives her husband advice ahead of debates.

"He's great. He's competent," Ann Romney told The Denver Post on Tuesday. "He's experienced. He's done this. He's fantastic."

Both campaigns have been working hard to compliment their challenger's skills over those of their own candidate, with both sides hoping to enter the debate as the underdog.

President Obama's campaign has said the president won't have as much time to practice as Mitt Romney, and senior adviser David Axelrod argued that first debates "generally favor challengers." 

Romney's campaign called Obama an "universally-acclaimed public speaker" with "extensive seasoning under the bright lights of the debate stage."

Michelle Obama could not name any challenges the president needs to overcome in order to perform well and quickly denied that she "critiques" his speeches.

"I give him my positive reinforcement," she said. "I do tell him to have fun and relax and just be himself."

She did admit that she gets "so nervous" before debates. 

"I'm like one of those parents watching their kid on the balance beam," she said. "You're just standing there, trying not to have any expression at all."

The first lady is campaigning in Nevada on Wednesday morning but will fly into Colorado in time to watch the debate at the University of Denver. Wednesday is also the Obamas' 20th wedding anniversary.