Romney’s Crushing Defeat of Obama in the First Debate: Analysis and Reaction

Bookmark and Share  The first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney produced a surprisingly lopsided victory for Romney that made President Obama look like the empty suit that most Americans have come to see him to be.  (See the complete video of the debate below this post)

From beginning to end, Romney was confident, commanding, and concise.  For his part, President Obama was a rambling mess who reiterated shallow DNC talking points that even he did not seem to believe anymore.  And while Mitt Romney came across as eager to address the President, President Obama often seemed uncomfortable and even annoyed.  Pained looks  to cross the his face as he continuously looked down at the podium with a strained smile or uncomfortable and exaggerated smile on his face as Mitt Romney often schooled him on such things as the economy and the constitutional role of government in America.

To make matters worse, even though President Obama addressed the audience 4 minutes longer longer than Romney did, his long winded responses actually did little more than provide listeners with a meandering mess that never seemed to arrive at a valid point. It drove home the fact that in politics, when you’re explaining, you’re losing.  In last night’s debate, President Obama was explaining a lot.

Viewers of the debate couldn’t help but feel that the President was running scared and even the most casual of political observers concluded that President Obama was caught off guard by Romney’s command of the issues and seemingly natural confident persona.  With nearly universal unanimity, viewers of last night debate saw a President that should have studied harder.   Of course the President will probably blame his poor debate performance on Bush, but when all was said and done, the first thought to strike me was that once again, Massachusetts Senator and 2004 Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry failed to accomplish another mission.  As President Obama’s debate prep partner, Kerry who stood in to play Mitt Romney during debate practice with the President, obviously did not do a good enough job because President Obama was far from ready for this first encounter with Romney.

The Reaction.

Probably the most dramatic result of last nights debate was the universal agreement on how each candidate fared.  Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that Mitt Romney was the clear winner and by wide margin.  Romney’s superior performance was even well lauded by the some of the left’s lowest of players.

Bill Maher spent the night in tears as he took to his iPhone to tweet the following gems;

Leading liberal blogmeister Markos Moulitsas‏ from the scurrilous Daily Kos had a few tweets denouncing President Obama’s weak debating skills;

Perhaps the gloomiest of gusses last though were the cast of clowns over at MNSBC.  There the liberal minions were apoplectic and unable to contain their frustrations.  The always lying and perpetually perplexed Chris Matthews was so distraught at the President’s inability to defend his failed liberal policies that it sparked within him a sense of anger that left him frothing at the mouth and offering a diatribe of the President that was at times violent.  The most notable example of that sentiment came when Matthews claimed that the President needs to watch his show and the rest of the programs on MSNBC because they have “the knives coming out. ”  Matthews added  “We go after the people”.

Over at the liberal lala land called Current TV, Al Gore’s leftwing propaganda mill, Gore himself sat in the center of his hand picked puppets and socialist supporters and confirmed that this first matchup with Romney for President Obama was not his finest moment.  But Gore defended the President by turning to a scapegoat that Gore has built his career on… the environment.  According to Gore, the high altitude of Denver where the debate took place was responsible for throwing the president off.

As for the right, Romney exceeded expectations and provided his base with some much needed enthusiasm.  Across the board, conservatives offered what was uncharacteristically high praise for Romney.  Conservative Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol credited Romney with what he called the “Best Debate Performance By a GOP Presidential Candidate in More than Two Decades”.  Over at the American Conservative, Scott Galupo offered the following eloquent assessment;

President Obama was listless, exhausted, halting. When he should have been vigorously twisting the knife, he would pause, search for words, and take 15 seconds to make a point that should have taken five seconds. Romney, by contrast, was gamely and ultraprepared; he never once seemed caught off guard. Romney came into this debate knowing he needed to alter the dynamic of the race. If he didn’t do it tonight, then it couldn’t be done.

What it All Means

While last night’s debate has provided Mitt Romney with at least an undeniable but possibly only temporary boost , with 30 days left in the election, it cannot be said that this first of  three presidential debates changed the game for him or Obama.  Most people who watched the debate walked away supporting the same candidate that they were supporting before they sat do to see the debate.  Romney did however at least help himself among the small but significant undecided voters who will be critical to his winning or losing the election.  Thanks to the way in which Romney handled himself, these voters did walk away without any reason to vote against Romney.  If anything, they left the debate still willing to give Romney a chance to earn their vote.  At the same time, another portion of that voting bloc saw a President who was unable to effectively defend his failed economic policies and who struggled to define what role government should play in our lives.  Combine that with the confident, poised, energetic, and convincing way in which Romney defended his own policies and these voters left the debate leaning closer to finalizing their support for Romney than at any other point in this election.

Still, despite the overwhelming consensus describing the first debate as a big win for Mitt Romney, at the moment the victory simply keeps him in the game.  It has provided the Romney campaign with a new narrative, one which gives his candidacy some much needed momentum.  But politics is dynamic, not static and as such Romney will have to work quite hard to keep the momentum flowing in his direction.  In addition to the need for a strong performance by his running mate Paul Ryan on October 11th in his debate against Vice President Blunder…I mean Biden,   Romney will also have to repeat his strong performance not just one more time but twice more in the the two debates yet to come on October 16th and October  22nd.  That will be a tall order, especially now that President Obama has learned that Mitt Romney is no pushover.

So Romney fans need to avoid the temptation to believe that last night was a game changer. When all is said and done and the benefit of hindsight allows us to analyze the entire election in retrospect, it could prove to be a so-called game changer but only if Romney can continue to outperform the President and not just in the debates.

As the remaining weeks of this campaign unfold, Romney must convince voters that he has a plan to turn our economy around and he must offer some details that demonstrates his vision includes much more than just the smoke and mirrors that President Obama’s 2008 “hope and change” campaign was based on.   After last night’s night debate Romney certainly has the opportunity to do that.

By Sunday, the first real in-depth polls based upon this debate will make their way into the public domain.  If those polls do not show at least some minimal change in Romney’s numbers in the right direction in critical states like Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Iowa and New Hampshire  than we will know that Romney has a bigger mountain to climb than some already think. If the numbers do show a swing towards Romney, than the pressure will still be on him as an Obama inspired target on his back gets bigger than ever.

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The First Presidential Debate. How’d They Do?

Bookmark and Share The first Republican presidential debate of the 2012 election most likely did little to influence the electoral fortunes of any of its participants. The forum did however provide many concerned voters with a decent introduction to candidates like Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty and Gary Johnson. As for the fifth debate participant, Congressman Ron Paul, many already know him and for those who do, Paul provided the consistency of his mix of true fiscal conservatism and Libertarian isolationism.

If one had to name a winner of the night, that decision might range widely. Initially, Herman Cain seems to have had the most impact among viewers who got their first real look at him. As I predicted in a previous post, Herman Cain did produce some of the wow factor that he has come to be known for. But in the final analysis I would have to say that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty got the most out of the night. While each of the candidates were gaffe free, Pawlentys performance was poised, polished and presidential. He demonstrated a clear level of confidence and comfort that helped convey both a command of the issues and the capacity to be a formidable force as the 2012 presidential campaign moves forward. Igt wasn’t the showstopper that he needs to become an automatic frontrunner, but it was the type of performance that keeps him in the top tier of the field.

The opening question was thrown to Governor Pawlenty who was asked about the statement he made a month ago in which he called President Obama weak. Moderator Brett Baier asked the Governor if he thought President Obama still looked week after the successful mission that killed Osama bin Laden? Governor Pawlenty made sure to give the President credit for his decision but he added that moment is not the sum total of Americas foreign policy.

In a similar question, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum bluntly stated that all the things President Obama has done right in foreign policy are continuations of Bush policies He cited the Presidents continuation of the Gitmo policy, finishing the mission in Iraq, and continuing our efforts in Afghanistan, as proof of his point.

On Afghanistan, Herman Cain claimed to not necessarily be willing toannouncea final decision on the war in Afghanistan until he was in a position where all the facts that only a President is privy to, are before him. Pointing to his successful business career he added that he takes pride in making an informed decision. Cain did however make some good points in insuring that wemust define our mission in Afghanistan more clearly than it currently is.

As for Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, they shared the position that the United States should pull out of Afghanistan no later than tomorrow. Paul did however go further by claiming that now that bin Laden has been taken care of, we should end our efforts in Afghanistan because it hasnt helped us or anybody in the Middle East. That statement will be seen by many as a slap in the face to the men and women who continue to keep the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the run and are insuring that Afghanistan does not again become a breeding and training ground for the type of terrorism that was responsible for 9/11 and triggering the War on Terror.

The sharpest exchange of the evening came when the issue of enhanced interrogation came up.

Tim Pawlenty offered support for such extreme measures and in an impassioned defense of his position, explained that if possible, the terrorists would havekilled not 3,000 Americans, not 30,000 Americans but 300,000 Americans if they could have on 9/11 and in response to that harsh reality, harsh policies may at times be necessary.

When all the candidates were asked to indicate, by a show of hands, if they would support the use of enhanced interrogation tactics under certain circumstances, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum raised their hands. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Congressman Ron Paul did not. When moderator Chris Wallace pointed this out, Ron Paul stated that such tactics dont achieve anything. To which Rick Santorum interrupted with Paul thats just not true. Santorum proceeded to argue that the information obtained through enhanced interrogation tactics of detainees at Gitmo was responsible for the information that led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. He then punctuated the point by reminding the Congressman we wouldnt have been able to make the raid in Pakistan had we not been in Afghanistan

At that point, Herman Cain chimed in and recalled the remarks of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who two months after 9/11 said that the terrorists objective is to kill all of us, and in what turned out to produce one of the nights most rousing spontaneous round of applause added so yes I support using whatever means possible to protect the people of this nation.

On the economy, the budget and taxes, all agreed that President Obama is helplessly lost on the issue and generally agreed upon reforms to Medicare and reductions in spending. For his part, Herman Cain called for an elimination of all taxes in exchange for a 28% Fair Tax. Both Cain and Governor Johnson called for the elimination of all Corporate taxes.

In total, most all the candidates performed adequately. Probably the least inspiring though was Gary Johnson. Johnson seemed a little awkward and failed to distinguish himself from Ron Paul by demonstrating that unlike Paul, as a Governor, Johnson didnt just preach the virtues of his Libertarian-Republican philosophy, he actually implemented it. Beyond that, Johnson did find it necessary to at one point step out of order to remind the debates questioners, that he was there and that maybe they should not direct all their questions to just his four opponents.

For his part, Herman Cains first appearance to the nation, within the context of a presidential campaign, was a success. While it may not have been the breakout performance he really needs, the particular debate format he was kept to, gave no one a real chance to achieve such a thing. Ultimately, he proved himself to be exceptionally worthy of consideration for the job he is seeking.

Ron Pauls participation in the debate allowed him to offer his usual compelling arguments but continued to put forth his policy positions with a type of rigidity and extremism that make them seem unrealistic to most voters. And while there were some obnoxious yells from the crowd that are typical of some within the Paul fan base, he did little to expand his base of support and to pull himself out of his normal single digit or low teens election returns.

As for Rick Santorum, while he showed himself to be viable, the greatest benefit that he got from the debate was a definite shoring up of the social conservative base which at the moment, is all that is really keeping his fledging campaign in the game.

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