President Obama is cramming for his three prime-time debates with Mitt Romney next month by practicing brief and concise answers, senior campaign strategist David Axelrod told Reuters.

A gifted orator, Obama has a tendency to give long, detailed answers that the campaign worries could come across as aloof during a televised debate. In his debate prep with sparring partner John KerryJohn KerryUS can lead on climate action by supporting developing countries Queen Elizabeth resting 'for a few days' after hospital stay Twenty-four countries say global net-zero goal will fuel inequality MORE (D-Mass.), Obama has been working on keeping his answers short after four years when he's rarely had to submit to rapid-fire questions.

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“He's got to speak shorter, that's all,” Axelrod told Reuters. “He just hasn't had to do that for the last four years so that's a part of the discipline of preparing for these debates.”

Axelrod said that the president was trying to squeeze in preparation time whenever he could, on flights to west coast campaign events and at the White House in the evening.

“We don't have the same luxury that Romney does in terms of time,” he said.

Axelrod also said that Obama was familiarizing himself with Romney’s record and statements during the campaign.

“He's spent a lot of time reading material and most of it is familiarizing himself with what Governor Romney said in this campaign,” he said.  “He's pretty conversant with his own record but he wasn't very conversant with Romney's.”

Romney, for his part, will seek to land rhetorical blows as Obama heads into the final stretch of the presidential election with a slight lead in the polls. 

Romney’s debate partner is Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process Timken rolls out six-figure ad campaign, hits Fauci MORE (R-Ohio) and reports said the GOP nominee began prepping earlier this month, while Democrats held their national convention in Charlotte, N.C. Romney and Portman went head-to-head during a week-long retreat at the Vermont home of former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R), a campaign surrogate.

The first debate, on domestic policy, is scheduled for Oct. 3 at the University of Denver. The two candidates will then take questions from the audience on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. and debate foreign policy on Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Vice-President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege The No Surprises Act:  a bill long overdue MORE and Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.), hold their only debate on Oct. 1 in Kentucky.

Biden has tapped Ryan’s House Budget committee colleague Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ryan has enlisted former solicitor general and famed legal scholar Ted Olson to aid in their debate preparations.