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Romney Lands Punches Against Subdued Obama in First Debate

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Romney, Obama, government, politics, republicans, democrats, debate )

- 2055 days ago -
Romney dominated the critical first presidential debate Wednesday night, landing punch after punch on a noticeably subdued President Obama. The GOP nominee came into the evening needing to shake up the narrative of the race, and he appeared to succeed

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Nancy L (141)
Wednesday October 3, 2012, 9:53 pm
Mitt Romney dominated the critical first presidential debate Wednesday night, landing punch after punch on a noticeably subdued President Obama.

The GOP nominee came into the evening needing to shake up the narrative of the race, and he appeared to succeed.

Throughout the 90-minute debate in Denver, the first showdown of the presidential contest, Romney aggressively questioned the president's record while defending his own economic priorities. Meanwhile, as Obama offered a safe defense of his record and policies, Romney often interrupted and seemed eager to engage.

He spent the evening on the offensive and came off well-prepared for his encounter with Obama, who seemed hesitant and forced.

And while Romney hit his marks, Obama missed opportunities when he failed to mention two of his campaign’s most effective attacks against Romney — the GOP nominee's tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital and the comments about the "47 percent" captured on video at a private fundraiser.

The president, wearing a clenched smile for much of the night, looked to depict Romney as deceiving people with his economic plans, arguing the GOP tax plan would shift the burden to the middle class.

"How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign," Obama said.

But despite polls regularly showing that voters see the president as more empathetic and concerned with the problems facing American families, it was Romney who spoke empathetically of the effect of the still-lagging economy on individuals struggling to find work.

There was also a notable contrast in style: Obama spent much of the debate looking directly into the camera, a strategy planned by his campaign to speak directly to the American people, while Romney addressed the president head-on.

Conservatives were exuberant following the debate, saying Romney had successfully captured the moment, while several Democrats and even some of the president’s staunchest supporters were disappointed in Obama's performance.

“He was rolled,” one former administration official said.

Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, said, “There’s no doubt he has a hungry challenger.”

“Gov. Romney's always been good on the attack," Axelrod told NBC News, conceding he would award Romney "style points."

Liberal MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz, along with a panel of other left-leaning pundits appearing on the network, said the president was disappointing.

And former adviser to President Clinton, James Carville, speaking on CNN, said that he had "one overwhelming impression ... It looked like Romney wanted to be there and President Obama didn't want to be there. … It gave you the impression that this whole thing was a lot of trouble." He added that "Romney had a good night."

A CBS News snap poll of undecided voters conducted after the debate concluded found that those on the fence generally agreed with the pundits. Of those surveyed, 46 percent gave the win to Romney, 22 percent to the president, and 32 percent called the contest a draw.

Throughout the evening, Obama spoke frequently in the abstract, while Romney scored points illustrating his disappointment with the president's with stories of specific individuals.

The hope from the Romney team was that the economic sparring would improve their candidate's polling on an issue that had been a core strength — and that displaying empathy could endear him to more voters.

Obama, meanwhile, looked to channel President Clinton's successful convention-night "arithmetic" argument to question Romney's assumptions.

"If you are lowering the rates the way you describe, governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid raising the deficit or burdening the middle class," Obama said. "It's math, arithmetic."

Obama argued even "when you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper income individuals are currently taking advantage of, you don't come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending" that Romney had proposed.

The Republican nominee blasted back, saying that "virtually everything" the president described as part of his tax plan was inaccurate and pledging he would not shift tax burdens from the wealthy to the middle class.

Romney, meanwhile, found success challenging Obama on not having accomplished his economic goals during his first term. During a testy exchange on the deficit, Romney interrupted Obama as the president was detailing his economic plan to reduce the deficit through spending cuts and raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

"You have been president for four years," Romney said. "You said would you cut the deficit in half."

The candidates both refused to cede ground on the issue, crystallizing the differences between the parties.

“If we are serious, we have to take a balanced, responsible approach,” Obama said.

“When the economy is growing slow like this, you shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone,” Romney said.

But despite a few testy exchanges, the debate was frequently characterized by in-depth discussions of policy intricacies. Both candidates seemed willing to deliver on their pre-debate promise to provide policy specifics, but the conversation at times became bogged down with minor squabbles rather than grand visions.

The first 45 minutes centered on the economy and, as the discussion transitioned to Medicare, Obama argued that the Republican plan would implement a voucher system, causing "the traditional Medicare system will collapse and then you have folks like my grandmother at the mercy of the private health insurance.”

‪Romney again pounced on Obama's comments, saying,‬ "I can't understand how you can cut Medicare $716 billion for current recipients for Medicare."

Obama's subdued performance could throw back into question a race that for months has shown him with a consistent though small lead.

A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released the night before the debate showed the president with a 3-point lead among likely voters, with Obama holding leads within the polls' margins of error in Florida and Virginia. In the crucial state of Ohio, Obama led Romney 50 percent to 43 percent.

On Thursday, the candidates head back out on the stump: The president will hold a campaign rally in Denver and then fly to Wisconsin, where an afternoon rally is scheduled in Madison. Vice President Biden will hold an event in Iowa, while Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be campaigning in Virginia.

Brent M (0)
Wednesday October 3, 2012, 11:15 pm
Obama schooled the empty chair tonight!

Daniel A (2)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 7:07 am
I watched the debate and noted that although the President was consistent in explaining policies and in factual presentation, Romney was what he has been for the past year. The one exception noted was that he came out blustering, taking a page from Christie, and overwhelmed Tom Lehrer, who lost control of the debate. Romney was extremely consistent with past performances in that, he lied (didn't know anything about the tax write-offs for companies moving overseas), could not perform simple arithmetic when faced with number problems, and in fact didn't even know the correct numbers for his own presentation. He also etch-a-sketched on poverty, social security and medicare, in that in the past, he had favored privatizing S.S. and repealing the A.C.A. Most times, when the President made a factual statement, Willard either denied the "the fact existed" or attacked something which had not been stated. I shudder to think what this spoiled rich boy would do to us, were he to be elected.

Nancy L (141)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 7:43 am
Lehrer did what he was supposed to do, he let the debators debate. Romney looked presidential, Obama looked like a whipped puppy. He was totally unprepared, he spouted nothing but the same old tired rhetoric.

Nancy L (141)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 7:46 am
He is just not a leader...period

Arielle S (313)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 8:27 am
The Mitt we saw last night was not the Mitt we've seen for the last six months - and most likely, Obama was preoccupied since Turkey had just fired on Syria. In other words, while Mitt was practicing for the debate, Obama was running the country....

Nancy L (141)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 8:52 am

That's funny

Nancy L (141)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 8:53 am
Almost as funny as ALGORE saying it was the ALTITUDE....I kid you not he really said that.

Thank God he was not elected POTUS

Paula M (39)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 11:52 am
Arielle S., if you speculation is correct I would respond that a man whose ability to debate is so badly impaired by a minor border dispute is not competent to serve as President of the United States.

Nancy L (141)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 12:58 pm
It's the same Mitt I have been seeing for years. You only see what the lap dog media wants you to see. Try getting your info somewhere else.

Nancy L (141)
Thursday October 4, 2012, 12:59 pm
Excellent point Paula

Scarlett P (126)
Friday October 5, 2012, 10:46 am
LOL... Did Arielle really say obama was running the country?? Wow talking about someone with blinders..
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