The format of the second round of the presidential debates played to President Barack Obama’s strengths and the president didn’t fail to utilize it and a moderator who was either biased or incapable of doing her duty.
President Obama was clearly the aggressor, going after former Governor Mitt Romney’s personal success via his earned wealth, his comment about the 47%, Bain Capital and his budget plan while also smoothly squeezing in his standard demagogic talking points about Romney’s war on America’s respective census blocs.
Turning in a vastly superior performance than his “Denver phone-in”, the president won the second round.
But what benefits will Obama reap from this tactical rhetorical victory?
He’ll replenish his campaign kitty some as his supporters will be inspired to give a bit more as a reward for taking the fight to his Republican opponent.
The president will also bask in the positive media coverage that follows a debate win.
But don’t expect the poll numbers to dramatically flip once the debate has been digested, which will be Friday at the earliest.
Romney’s big bounce came not because he won a televised argument but because that was the first time the public really got to see the Republican candidate make a case for his election. Previously Romney’s public image was being painted largely through a big early attack ad buy from the president and his allies.
In the case of President Obama, Americans are familiar enough with him. People learned nothing new about President Obama on Tuesday night.
He failed to offer a convincing defese of the past four years and mainly using the town hall debate as a forum to eloquently narrate his own attack ads. It made for great political theatre but did President Obama really win back many of those who have not fared well during his administration?
I think not.
Style would count as much or more than substance in this particular format and here the president did well while Romney for the most part did not.
Romney seemed wooden and at times needlessly evasive and blew several opportunities to chip away at the Democratic narrative on him. Though there were moments when he managed to connect with the citizen questioner, other occasions he came off stilted and obviously flustered.
Romney also erred in trying to engage with president and not the audience, the latter providing him a chance to exhibit a rapport with voters, the former only inviting interruptions from Obama and thus muddying his points.
The president shrewdly did not make a similar mistake, speaking to either the person or the camera.
Romney’s best segment was when he ably described Obama’s indefensible fiscal and economic records, which are the main issues in the election.
The Republican candidate also had a great answer concerning gun violence, citing the need to change the culture that devalues life instead of simply going after the hardware. Regrettably, Romney’s holistic analysis on gun crime met with disdain from the moderator.
Obama rattled Romney in the give and take and when the debate became mismanaged, Obama seized the initiative, taking the time he wanted while Romney Oliver Twist-like appealed to Caesar/Candy.
Defense attorneys fared better before East German judges.
Candy Crowley proved to be a poor choice for moderator and her performance reflected negatively in the discussion, the format and professionally as a journalist.
Crowley was deferential to the president, who continuously used and abused the leeway afforded to him. In contrast, Crowley was argumentative and recklessly arbitrary towards Romney. Ms. Crowley would not be confused with one of the undecided voters at Hofstra.
The CNN reporter should not be considered as moderator for any future debate as she brought embarrassment to the debate commission, her employer and her profession. It’s not the responsibility of the debate moderator to pick and choose which answers she finds acceptable and those she personally doesn’t. It’s up to the viewers to do that.
There’s nothing wrong having genuinely undecided ordinary Americans participating in this critical national discussion and with rare exception I thought the questions were relevant.
This was supposed to be the people’s debate and Crowley, either driven by a need to feel relevant or in a brazen attempt to steer it to a preferred outcome, hijacked it.
The rubber match will be on Monday when the conveniently swept under the rug matter of Libya will be brought to the forefront and where an inconvenient ghost from this debate, Obama’s misleading answer concerning his administration’s cited cause for the attack and the dodged question concerning the failure to provide adequate support for the US diplomatic delegation, will come under further review.