Thursday, October 4, 2012

Obama vs Romney - The First Presidential Debate

I have little doubt that the fact-checkers will be pouring over the comments made by both candidates in last night’s first Presidential Debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. There will be plenty for them to check on, at least from Romney’s statements, because the Governor came more than prepared with figures, statistics and material which left the president looking like a deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming 18-wheeler - at least from the once-in-a-blue moon moments when Mr. Obama looked up from gazing at the table-top of his podium.

Last night was a big one for the former Governor from Massachusetts. He was articulate, prepared, knowledgable, respectful and most importantly - likable. The one big hurtle that Mitt Romney had to face before this debate was making the American people believe he wasn’t out-of-touch with their concerns and to come across like a guy you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with sitting down in your local pub and having a brew with. Romney did just that, so the Obama campaign’s efforts to paint Romney as just the opposite, a strategy that polls have been showing was quite successful, has once and for all been taken off the table. The real Mitt Romney has finally been revealed to the 60-plus million viewers of this first debate and the overwhelming verdict is, “hey, we kind of like this guy.”

The format for this debate was new to the presidential debate forum. It allowed each candidate a lot more freedom to actually debate instead of just answering moderator questions in a setting more reminiscent of a glorified press conference than an actual dialectic between political rivals.

Mitt Romney came out strong immediately. He was prepared to discuss every aspect of the economy. Barack Obama seemed lost without his teleprompter. He wasn’t that engaged, appeared lost at times and simply wasn’t on his game. He came across as someone who simply wished to be somewhere else. Also, when Romney set forth his economic plan and tax policies it looked like he was a university professor of economics teaching his student, Barack Obama, the basics of Economics 101. The president was actually taking notes vigorously just like a student learning from a wise and seasoned teacher. It was quite remarkable to watch.

The president shared nothing new, made no excuses for his lackluster and disappointing four years in office, never once went for Romney’s jugular or mentioned Bain Capital or Romney’s taken out of context 47% statement a few weeks ago. It was almost like the president resigned himself to the fact that he just didn’t have a record to stand on, so why even bother to try and defend it. The best he could tell the American people was to give him another four years to try and do better, to which Romney respectfully reminded the president that while the American people or very forgiving, they are hurting badly and the status quo will not do, it is time for real change, not just a platitude or campaign promise of change.

When the debate was over you could almost see a real look of “thank God” on the president’s face. At the conclusion of their first meeting in Denver, both candidates will be heading back out on to the campaign trail. Next week is the Vice Presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan. That one should be fun to watch as both men can be quite verbal at times.

The news media was busy with their analysis at the conclusion of the debate. The Obama Network, also known as MSNBC, was palsied. Chris Matthews literally lost it on camera. He undoubtedly received no tingle up his leg after this debate and had a face so red I thought he would stroke out. That network spent most of the night having to admit that Mitt Romney overwhelmingly won this debate and bent over backwards to make up excuses for the president's very poor showing. Fox News and CNN were a bit more balanced in their after-debate discussions with CNN revealing their scientific poll of actual registered voters that watched the entire 90+ minute debate. Their poll, that had about a 2% margin of more Republicans then Democrats showed Romney won handedly over Obama with Romney getting 67% and Obama at 25%. Anderson Cooper was quick to point out that even though the poll had a 2% Republican slant, with a 42% difference in the result that minor 2% wasn’t a factor that would skew the final tally. In other words, Romney trounced Obama. I didn’t even bother tuning into ABC, CBS or PBS for their analysis. I watched the debate and the results were quite clear who came to it ready and prepared to speak to the American people.

While his performance in this first debate will give Mr. Romney a slight bump in the polls over the next few days that isn’t the most important thing he will walk away with. The American people got to see Mitt Romney, perhaps the first time for most of them. He came through to their living rooms unfiltered and as a real human being, a quite capable executive and someone very presidential. They didn’t have his character slanted by a campaign ad. They weren’t treated to a view of the man that was painted by his opposition. They got to see the real and personable Mitt Romney. And, that was more advantages than a hundred political advertisements or a thousand sound bites. The American people were able to see he is a flesh and blood guy, a family man, a man who knows what he is talking about, feels their pain and has a plan to bring this nation back on its rightful path of growth and prosperity instead of its current track of “trickle down government.” They got to see, for the first time since Ronald Reagan, a real likable, knowledgeable and contender for president.

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