Mitt Romney has turned into such a skilled debater that he could trounce President Barack Obama in their three head-to-head encounters in the run-up to the election, former Democratic Labor Secretary Robert Reich believes.

Romney “is going to be debating somebody who is not nearly as good a debater as his reputation,” Reich tells Atlantic Magazine in its September issue. He says that under live questioning, Obama “can seem kind of wooden” and “at a loss for words.”

“Even if Romney is scripted and not spontaneous, he will come across as ‘on his game,’ ” Reich tells the Atlantic. “The danger for Obama is that Romney can still look better than Obama, if Obama does not have the same degree of discipline about the debates.”

Reich, now Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was quoted in an extensive article in the Atlantic by its longtime national correspondent, James Fallows. The magazine’s report was based on an examination of tapes of Romney’s debates throughout his political career.

That first began with three contests against Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy for the U.S. Senate in 1994 and continued with Romney’s successful 2002 quest for the statehouse, his failed 2008 presidential bid and finally with the 2012 Republican presidential primaries.

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