On a night when Barack Obama should have hammered Mitt Romney over and over with the words “Forty-seven percent,” it was the president who totally forgot the people who were so callously cast aside by Romney in his earlier speech.
If sleepwalking were an Olympic sport, President Obama won the gold medal Wednesday night, not only showing less energy than Mitt Romney, but also appearing somnambulistic in comparison to octogenarian moderator Jim Lehrer.
When Romney left gaping openings with his continued remarks about how much he cared for the poor and the middle class, President Obama did not even mention that Romney had previously said he didn’t care much for the 47 percent of Americans who did not pay any federal income tax. That would include many of those same poor and middle class Romney said were uppermost in his mind.
Other quick takes on the debate:
-Romney had a stronger debate, but it was not the home run the former Massachusetts governor needed. My guess- Obama supporters are still for Obama, Romney supporters are still for Romney, and those who have not decided are still undecided.
-While Romney was using Rob Portman to help prepare him for Obama, the president was apparently using elementary students because my middle school students would at least have had him noticing openings when they were forming.
--The president must not have been watching his own campaign commercials since many of them offer the talking points that would have enabled him to counter many of Romney’s claims.
-I am not in favor of forcing anyone to retire, but it is time for someone other than Jim Lehrer to be chosen to moderate one of these debates.
-This reminds me of 1984 when President Reagan was battered about by Walter Mondale in the first debate, coming off as someone who was too old and befuddled to be re-elected president. In the next debate, Reagan cracked a joke about his age, saying he would not hold Mondale’s “youth and inexperience” against him. That turned the tide and Reagan kept the momentum going by being on top of all of the issues in that debate. I thoroughly expect President Obama to make the same kind of comeback in the second debate. This is not the first time he has faced this sitation. Hillary Clinton won debates with Obama in 2008, but he prepared better and was able to hold his own. Romney is not as good as Hillary Clinton, so Obama should be able to bounce back.
-Obama has to be aggressive in the next debate. He can’t act like he is the president and Romney is not, and then stay above the fray. Romney’s biggest victory tonight was showing that he belongs on the same stage with the president of the United States and will not be dwarfed by the spectre of the Oval Office. Don’t forget that Romney has focused everything on this first debate for the past several weeks. The preparation obviously paid off, but with no Obama making no gaffes (just omissions), Romney is going to have to do it two more times to gain momentum and each succeeding debate generally has smaller audiences.
-On these plans where Romney is not offering specifics, the president needs to remind home viewers that another Republican candidate talked about a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. By the time we were finally out of Vietnam, it was seven years later and Richard Nixon had already resigned in disgrace because of Watergate. What programs will Romney cut? What will his health care plan be? If he does not give specifics, hit him hard, over and over.
I have a feeling that is exactly what will happen in the second debate now that President Obama has learned you don’t win a presidential debate by just showing up and looking presidential.