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Obama to spend three days in Henderson preparing for first debate

President Obama Speaks at Cashman Center

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop at Cashman Center Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012.

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 | 12:45 p.m.

Obama Speaks at Cashman Center: Sept. 12, 2012

President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop at Cashman Center Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. Launch slideshow »

President Barack Obama will be spending a critical three days in Henderson before his first debate against Republican rival Mitt Romney, a White House source confirmed today.

Obama will arrive in Las Vegas on Sunday and will rally supporters at a public campaign event at Desert Pines High School. Doors open at 4 p.m. and tickets to the event will be available at Obama campaign field offices throughout the valley beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday.

He will then travel to an undisclosed location to hunker down for some much-needed debate preparation.

Neither White House nor campaign officials would confirm the exact location, but have said it will be in Henderson. Political journalist Jon Ralston reported on Twitter that Obama will be staying at Lake Las Vegas.

Obama has no other public events scheduled during his time here. He is scheduled to leave on Wednesday. But a campaign source said he will likely make some "unplanned" local stops during his time in Southern Nevada.

The first of three presidential debates is Wednesday evening in Denver.

Obama has had decidedly less time to prepare for the debate than his challenger, a fact that seems to be weighing on the president's advisers, according to the Los Angeles Times. Both his official and campaign duties have interrupted his debate preparation time.

Meanwhile, Romney has spent considerable time practicing. Earlier this month, he took time off in Vermont to run through practice debates with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who stands in as Obama. He also spent time this past weekend preparing.

That has Obama's advisers downplaying expectations for Obama's performance, a common pre-debate tactic.

During an editorial board meeting last week, Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina said Romney seems to be "taking an unprecedented interest in these debates."

"He stopped campaigning for a week to do nothing but debate prep," Messina said.

"I happen to be one of the only Americans who have watched all 23 Republican primary debates, which makes me sad and pathetic and wanting that time back, but I can tell you that (Romney) is a phenomenal debater. He understands message, he stays on it."

Messina added that Obama won't necessarily win this first debate.

"In the history of debates, the challenger typically wins the first debate," Messina said. "So we have a lot of things stacked up against us. That said, we continue to believe this election is a very clear choice and I think the debates are going to show that."

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