The first debate is over!
It was remarkable…
I was going to begin this article by saying Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama went eyeball to eyeball last night in Denver, but that wasn’t the case. It was a night of Romney focusing on Obama, looking directly into his eyes, while Obama’s eyes were oft-times focused… downward… as if he was willing the lectern to morph into his teleprompter. And, in my opinion, as if he knew Romney was on to him. The Boston Herald headline above encapsulates the evening.
Romney seemed to relish the opportunity to speak to Americans without the filter of the nefarious news media. He was the man we know and admire - very well-prepared, precise, focused, in control, filled with conviction and compassion, showed humor, aggressive while affable, and was completely at ease.
Obama was flat, subdued, distracted, passive, at times churlish and bewildered that his royal-highness-stature-and-personality wasn’t cutting the mustard. At one point Obama asked moderator Jim Lehrer to move off a topic (a first!).
From the get-go, Obama attempted to set the campaign narrative as not what has happened in the last four years, but what will happen if he’s given four MORE years. He couldn’t be standing on shakier, flakier ground.
Some Obama proponents today are claiming moderator Jim Lehrer was weak or favored Romney. Not so. Obama was given four more minutes of speaking time - over Romney. The Governor delivered far more substance in his allotted time than Obama with his extra OVERtime. And, Lehrer appeared at times to attempt to coach Obama via his questions, trying to prompt him to give a more cogent response.
Clash of the titans? The only titan present in this race is Mitt Romney.
I’m delighted at what is being said about the Duel in Denver (from Mitt Romney Press):
Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter: “And I Think That Mitt Romney, Yes, He Absolutely Wins The Preparation. And He Wins The Style Points.” (CNN’s “CNN Live,” 10/3/12)
ABC News’ Jake Tapper: “It Was Not A Strong Performance By [President Obama].” ABC’s JAKE TAPPER: “Well, I’ve covered President Obama for about six or seven years now and I’ve seen him inspire crowds of tens of thousands and then I also recall the summer of 2007 when he was listless and flat and uninspired and his campaign manager had to knock some sense in him and get him back in the game. Unfortunately for the Obama campaign that’s the Obama I saw on the stage tonight. It was not a strong performance by him.” (ABC, 10/3/12)
Bloomberg’s Joshua Green: “Dominating…” “On Wednesday night, Mitt Romney attempted a hostile takeover of the presidential campaign … dominating President Obama.” (Bloomberg, 10/3/12)
Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “How Tough A Night Was It For The Incumbent? He Even Muffed Some Of The Basics Of Debate 101…” “How tough a night was it for the incumbent? He even muffed some of the basics of Debate 101, struggling to find the right camera to address once or twice during the mostly civil 90-minute exchange.” (Politico, 10/3/12)Time’s Mark Halperin: “A Performance That Will Both Delight The Republican Base And Make Undecided Voters Take Note. Was The Dominant Figure On The Stage On Almost Every Exchange.” (Time , 10/3/12)
ABC News’ Russell Goldman: “Romney Came Out Swinging In The First Presidential Debate…” “Mitt Romney came out swinging in the first presidential debate, challenging President Obama over his health care reforms, treatment of the economy, taxes and funding for Sesame Street’s Big Bird.” (ABC News, 10/3/12)
BuzzFeed’s Michael Hastings: “For Weeks, President Obama’s Advisers Have Been Lowering Expectations … Maybe The Expectations Weren’t Low Enough.” “For weeks, President Obama’s advisers have been lowering expectations for the debate tonight, both privately and publicly forecasting that the Commander in Chief could deliver a dud. Maybe the expectations weren’t low enough.” (BuzzFeed, 10/3/12)
Time’s Joe Klein: “Mitt Romney Won This Debate. Barack Obama Lost It. I Mean, He Got His Butt Kicked.” “Well, I’m with all the other talking heads: Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting President.” (Time , 10/3/12)
Bloomberg’s Ramesh Ponnuru: “Romney Made The Most Focused Appeal To Middle-Class Voters On The Basis Of How His Agenda Would Help Them…” “Romney made the most focused appeal to middle-class voters on the basis of how his agenda would help them — on energy, on health care, on jobs — that he ever has.” (Bloomberg, 10/4/12)