Commentary: Romney wins round 1
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney turned in a strong performance in last night’s debate, spending much of the evening on the offensive in attacking President Barack Obama’s records and policies.
Romney’s forceful and polished showing in Denver has helped revitalized his campaign following weeks of gaffes, internal strife, and damaging news coverage.
Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, said Romney’s debate victory was “decisive” and could be game-changer.
“Going into this debate, it really was an in-between situation, where clearly President Obama was ahead…and where Gov. Romney desperately needed to shake this race up. Something had to change the trajectory in this election, and that it needed to be something very, very substantial,” said Cook at a post-debate discussion forum hosted by National Journal.
Many observers and political pundits agreed that Romney dominated the debate against Obama, who appeared to be more subdued and passive in comparison.
“I think it’s true to say that President Obama is a superior orator, and I think Mitt Romney is a better debater,” Cook said. “I thought Governor Romney did a fabulous job…Obama seemed to be like a team sitting on a lead…who didn’t seem terribly hungry.”
The former Massachusetts governor was successful in striking a balance between aggressively criticizing Obama’s policies but without coming across as too hostile.
However, at times, Romney bulldozed over moderator Jim Lehrer, the anchor PBS News Hour, who struggled to maintain control of the debate. Romney repeatedly pushed aside Lehrer’s instructions and insisted in having the last word on nearly every question.
Notably, his conduct was not viewed favorably by some independent and moderate women voters. At a bipartisan focus group sponsored by Wal-Mart, the women described their impressions of Romney as “rude”, “pushy”, and “assertive” in a “negative light” following the debate. Romney has been suffering a significant gender gap in that women voters are less likely to support him over Obama.
Obama’s deliberative, halting way of speaking gave the impression that he was less prepared than Romney and his overly verbose answers left viewers confused about his core message.
Romney was able to seize control of the debate’s direction, which forced Obama to spend most of the night defending his policies rather than promoting his vision for the next four years or effectively attacking Romney’s policies and stances, including the infamous “47%” comment.
The women at the Wal-Mart focus group described the President as “defeated,” “backpedaling” and “speaking the same game.”
Obama’s performance left many of his supporters wondering where the candidate who inspired millions of Americans in 2008 had gone.
There will be two more presidential debates: Tuesday, Oct. 16 and Monday, Oct. 22. The next debate will be between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican nominee Paul Ryan on Oct. 11. For more information, visit Debates.org.
- ABC/Yahoo News: How did voters react to the debate?
- C-Span.org: Video of the first 2012 presidential debate on domestic policy on Oct. 3, 2012
- C-Span.org: Video of the National Journal’s forum on election trends on Oct. 4, 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: Polls show Obama widening his lead in Ohio, Florida & Pennsylvania
- WhatTheFolly.com: Commentary: Mitt Romney writes off 47% of Americans
- WhatTheFolly.com: Commentary: Romney’s pathetic attempt to exploit deaths of U.S. embassy staff for political gain