Mitt Romney said he was eager to go up against President Barack Obama in their three debates, beginning with Wednesday's looming debut showdown in the political battleground of Colorado.
"I look forward to these debates.... It'll be a conversation with the American people that will span almost an entire month," the Republican nominee told a boisterous crowd of more than 5,000 Monday night at a Denver air and space museum.
Romney had touched down in the Rocky Mountain state two hours earlier, and will stay to undergo intensive final debate preparations.
Obama meanwhile is hunkered down in Nevada as he goes over last-minute strategizing and dusts off his mothballed debate skills.
Both camps have taken a page from traditional American politics and downplayed expectations around their candidate; Romney himself appeared to embrace the strategy Monday.
"There's a lot of interest surrounding the debate, and people want to know who's going to win, who's going to score the punches and who's going to make the biggest difference in the arguments they make, and there's going to be all this scoring of winning and losing," Romney said.
"You know, in my view it's not so much winning and losing," but about a grander vision for the country, he added.
"These debates are an opportunity for each of us to describe the pathway forward for America that we would choose."
Obama made similar statements Sunday, telling a Las Vegas crowd that the media has been speculating on "who is going to have the best zingers."
"Governor Romney, he's a good debater... I'm just okay," Obama quipped.
Romney said his policies would help millions more Americans find work or move up into the middle class.
"My priority is jobs. Jobs is job one in my administration," he said.
Colorado is among about 10 swing states where voters will decide the November 6 election, and both candidates have campaigned extensively here.
"I believe that the people of Colorado will choose a better way for our country. We can't afford four more years like the last four years," Romney said, repeating a mantra of his campaign.
While Wednesday's debate is to focus on domestic issues, aides on Monday explained how Romney's campaign was broadening out beyond the economy, in a suggestion that the challenger was not merely making the election a referendum on the Obama economy.
"For the last four years we've had a foreign policy led by a president who believes the strength of his personality is going to get people to do the right things," Romney said.
"Well, we've seen fires burning in US embassies around the world," he added, referring to violent unrest at the embassy in Cairo and then at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left the US ambassador and three other Americans dead.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]