Obama Comes Back Strong But Debate’s Impact On Race Is Unclear

Last night's debate was rough and tumble, but it's unlikely to change the state of the race.

The Barack Obama that showed up at Hofstra University was very different from the Barack Obama who showed up two weeks ago in Denver, Colorado. Where that first Obama was awkward and seemed to resisting even defending himself from, last night’s Obama was feisty, aggressive, and far better prepared. For his part, Mitt Romney seemed slightly off kilter at times, no doubt because this was a format not well suited to his style and because the tone of the debate itself was far different from the substantive content we saw in the debate. The most striking thing about the debate, though, was the extent to which what was supposed to be a “Town Hall” quickly turned into a boxing match:

Competing for a shrinking sliver of undecided voters, many of them women, their engagements at times bordered on physical as they circled each other or bounded out of their seats while the other was speaking, at times more intent to argue than to address the questions over jobs, taxes, energy, immigration and a range of other issues.

Mr. Obama, criticized by his own party for a lackluster debate performance two weeks ago, this time pressed an attack that allowed him to often dictate the terms of the debate. But an unbowed Mr. Romney was there to meet him every time, and seemed to relish the opportunity to challenge a sitting president.

Mr. Obama’s assertive posture may well have stopped the clamor of concern from supporters that had been weighing on his campaign with three weeks and one more debate to go before the election.

The president’s broadsides started with a critique of Mr. Romney for his opposition to his administration’s automobile bailout in his first answer — “Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt” — and ended more than 90 minutes later with an attack on Mr. Romney’s secretly taped comments about the “47 percent” of Americans who he said did not take responsibility for their own lives.

“When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility — think about who he was talking about,” the president said toward the end of the debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

It was as if a different, highly charged president had taken the stage rather than the reluctant, disengaged-seeming candidate who showed up to meet Mr. Romney at their first debate two weeks ago.

Mr. Romney stayed acutely focused on Mr. Obama’s record in the face of it all, saying that the president had failed to deliver what he promised in his 2008 campaign and arguing repeatedly and strenuously, “We just can’t afford four more years like the last four years.”

He credited Mr. Obama for being “great as a speaker and describing his vision.” But then he brought down the ultimate hammer in a challenge to an incumbent: “That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need.”

The two took pains to fashion their arguments toward female voters, with the debate seeming at times directed entirely at them. Mr. Obama mentioned Mr. Romney’s vow to cut government funding for Planned Parenthood at least four times; Mr. Romney repeatedly mentioned that under Mr. Obama: “There are three and a half million more women living in poverty today than when the president took office. We don’t have to live like this.”

And Mr. Romney sought to broaden his appeal to women by softening his tone on reproductive issues, saying: “Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

Emphasizing his record of diversity as governor based on his own recruiting, he said, “I brought us whole binders full of women.”

It is a bit of conventional wisdom that undecided voters seek comity in their leaders. There was none of that Tuesday.

Ron Fournier characterized it, quite correctly, as a schoolyard fight:

Like two roughnecks squared off on a playground, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney invaded each other’s personal space, raised their voices, and fought. “It is just not true,” the president said. “It is true,” his rival replied. You could almost hear both men thinking: “Same to you and more of it.”

If you like to see presidential candidates fight for the job, if you want a passionate dialogue over big issues that matter, you got what you wanted on Tuesday night. If it’s civility you seek, you’re sunk.

Who won? The answer may be Obama, because his goal following a catastrophically sluggish first debate was so clear: Show some life. And, indeed, the president aggressively criticized Romney, labeling him a hypocrite and a liar who favors the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor

But Romney got his licks in, too, wrapping a miserable economy around the incumbent’s neck. “The middle class is getting crushed by the policies of a president who does not understand what it takes to get the economy working again,” Romney said.

Bottom line: Obama and Romney scored points while turning off independent voters with their point-scoring. Democratic and Republican partisans will find reason to celebrate the debate but it likely did nothing to reshape the closely fought race.

That was perhaps the most surprising thing about last night. The conventional wisdom for the past twenty years that it’s risky for candidates to become overly aggressive toward their opponents in these “Town Hall” format debates, largely because such a display can end up becoming off-putting to voters. The sight of two candidates essentially spending ninety minutes arguing at each other rather than talking to the voters would seem to be a symbol for the kind of partisan rancor that has been turning voters off for years. And, yet, for reasons all their own, the candidates last night decided to turn up the heat on each other in full view of the nation and 82 voters that were invited to ask them questions. For Obama, the reasons for that were probably rather obvious. After his disastrous performance in the first debate, the President needed to come on strong and be more forceful in his responses to his opponent. For Romney, it was a matter of continuing with the line of attack that he had started at the first debate. For both men, it just struck me that they were overdoing it and it’s unclear how that aggressiveness came across to the undecided and persuadable voters that each of them needs to win over between now and Election Day, and it didn’t help that half of their bickering ended up being about the rules and who was getting more talking time which is about the silliest thing in the world.

Overall, I’d tend to agree with the assessment that President Obama eked out a narrow victory last night for the reasons that Ross Douthat lays out:

Just by showing up energized, by hemming and hawing less often and by going after Mitt Romney more directly, President Obama ensured himself a better showing than the disaster he endured in Denver two weeks ago. But the narrow win he gained in the second presidential debate also owed something to Romney’s performance, which, though highly effective in stretches, also showcased more of his flaws, both as a debater and as a candidate.

The first flaw was stylistic. Romney is very skillful at the on-stage slash and parry, but he has weak spots, and veterans of the long Republican primary slog remember two of them particularly well. One is his tendency to argue pointlessly with the moderator and his opponents over the rules of order. The other is his habit of pressing his advantage too far, seeking a kind of alpha-male moment that can seem bullying instead of strong. (His attempt at a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry was the paradigmatic example.)

He gave in to both temptations this time around. The candidates each bickered with CNN’s Candy Crowley about turns and time allotments, but Romney went at it earlier and more often – sometimes justifiably, but never successfully. He also tried too hard to pre-empt the president’s increased aggression with aggression of his own, which doesn’t work well in a town-hall format, where the candidates are already circling one another like sharks. Invading your rival’s space can make you look hyped-up rather than presidential.

Romney’s biggest mistake last night, though, came when he mishandled a question about the consulate attack in Libya and let the President slip through on what is unquestionably his biggest foreign policy vulnerability. Partly that was because of the inappropriate decision of moderator Candy Crowley to become a fact checker in the debate, but it was also due to the fact that Romney seemed let himself become visibly rattled by the President’s response to his question. I don’t think its going to amount to a bid deal, and I’m sure that we’ll be returning to this topic at next Monday’s foreign policy debate, but it was a missed opportunity in an election where a challenger in Romney’s position really cannot afford to miss many opportunities and I’m sure the campaign is regretting it this morning.

The ultimate question, of course, is who benefits from the debate. Will Romney continue moving forward in the polls as he has consistently since after the October 3rd debate, or will Obama’s much better performance last night blunt that forward movement and possibly even start reversing the poll numbers. Judging from the “flash polls” conducted after the debate last night, it would appear that viewers gave a narrow victory to the President. A CBS poll of uncommitted debate viewers found that 37% believed Obama won, 30% believed Romney won, and 33% believed it was a tie. That same poll, however, showed that 65% of those polled believed that Romney would do a better job handling the economy. A CNN poll of registered voters gave the win to Obama 46% to 39%, but that same poll also gave the nod to Romney on specific issues including the economy, health care, taxes, the deficit, and “leadership.” Finally, a Public Policy Polling poll of Colorado voters fave the debate to Obama 48% to 44%, although it also says that the 37% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Obama, 36% said it made them more likely to vote for Romney, and 27% said it had no impact at all. What this suggests, at least according to these flash polls, is that the President scored a win here but that it was far from being a trouncing and may not have much of an impact on the race.

Nate Cohn suggests that the debate is unlikely to have much of an impact on the polls:

[I]f Romney’s gains were a product of a genuine shift in perceptions of Romney’s character, as suggested by several polls showing Romney with improved favorability ratings after the first debate, then Obama might not make many gains at all. If someone thought Romney was a good enough guy after the last debate, they probably still feel that way. Romney appeared capable of handling the presidency and an undecided voter who was previously open to supporting him would probably still be open to him tomorrow morning. Indeed, the CNN poll showed that an equal share of voters said they were more likely to support Romney and Obama after tonight’s debate.

As a result, it wouldn’t be wise to expect a big shift in the polls. After all, Romney’s September standing was deflated after months of attacks, the DNC and the 47 percent comments and Romney surged to just over 47 percent of the vote–just about the share of voters who disapprove of the president’s performance. Realistically, Romney won’t lose many of these voters from this point out and he would probably win them back by the election if he did. And Obama isn’t unlikely to return to his post-DNC standing of 49 or 49.5 percent of the popular vote, which probably reflected an unsustainably poor image of Romney and post-DNC momentum (unless Obama’s losses were almost entirely due to Democratic enthusiasm or response rates). With Obama likely to fall in a narrow band between his post-debate 47 percent and his pre-debate 49 percent, any gains would be slight and potentially difficult to distinguish from static. Of course, if Obama could get his number back near 49 percent, that would still be significant and potentially difficult for Romney to overcome.

I tend to agree. We’re at the point now where it seems unlikely that there are going to be major moves in the polls in the manner we saw after the October 3rd debate. In addition, with another debate a mere five days away it’s hard to say that this single debate is going to have much of an impact at all. By the time any reliable post-debate polling is done, we’ll be on the verge of next Monday’s final debate and then things will be reset all over again. Add into that the fact that people tend to lock in their voting decision the closer we get to Election Day, and it seems clear that what we’re likely to see in the polls in the coming week will be more akin to small movements by both candidates, with the final debate setting up the last two weeks of campaigning.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KariQ says:

    A little soon to be trying to determine impact, don’t you think? Let’s give it at least 24 hours. Actually, a week would be a better time frame.

  2. wr says:

    Here’s a shock: Doug’s reaction to the debate is… exactly what he predicted!

    Of course, if Romney had snatched a baby out of the audience to use as a shield against an assassin’s bullet, Doug would still be saying it was essentially a tie and wouldn’t change the election much…

  3. john personna says:

    Romney’s biggest mistake last night, though, came when he mishandled a question about the consulate attack in Libya and let the President slip through on what is unquestionably his biggest foreign policy vulnerability.

    I’d like a solid, adult, argument for the attack as the President’s biggest foreign policy vulnerability.

    To me it is all weak and indirect attacks. No one believes the President made the security arrangements in Benghazi. No one believes that whoever did make those arrangements acted with malice. No one believes the majority of Libyans supported those attacks. No one believes that “green-on-blue” attacks are a Libyan problem.

    In fact, 6 died yesterday in Afghanistan in more green-on-blue attacks there. I’d think a solid, adult, argument about foreign policy would be centered about 5000 miles east of Libya.

  4. john personna says:

    (Whether Doug really bought the meme or not, he carried it. The meme is “fret about Libya, skate on Afghanistan.”)

  5. swearyanthony says:

    Wait. A journalist pointing out a falsehood is “inappropriate”? Since when? I would have thought that a rare outbreak of this was to be commended.

  6. stonetools says:

    Partly that was because of the inappropriate decision of moderator Candy Crowley to become a fact checker in the debate,

    I see nothing inappropriate about this at all. Crowley isn’t a judge in an American style jury trial-she is a debate moderator and a journalist. If some one commits an egregious misstatement , its her duty, IMO, for her to call them on on the this.

    You might say that she should leave it up to the newspaper fact checkers the next day, but in reality, the debate TV audience will never read them and a lie will become accepted as truth in the national discourse.
    More real time fact checking, please.

  7. john personna says:

    Seriously, the only reason to fault real-time fact checking is if the reporter or moderator does in fact get it wrong.

    We know that he-said, she-said, politics is what’s WRONG with these times, not the solution.

  8. ptfe says:

    @wr: “Of course, if Romney had snatched a baby out of the audience to use as a shield against an assassin’s bullet, Doug would still be saying it was essentially a tie and wouldn’t change the election much…”

    When I first read this, I thought you were referring to the baby as “essentially a tie.” Quite an image.

  9. Modulo Myself says:

    Romney’s one problem is that that his attacks are his vulnerabilities. He just got his ass handed to him because of that.

    His other problem is that the people he needs to turn out do not–ever–pay attention to anything. Ever. The lack of interest by the basic Republican voter in anything that Romney is saying or claiming is not reciprocated by the general confusion of all voters. It’s a syndrome in and of itself.

    Check these numbers out from the recent Gallup poll showing Romney ahead:

    East – Obama +4
    Midwest – Obama +4
    South – Obama -22
    West – Obama +6

    This is utterly crazy and I don’t think it’s only Obama’s race that drives the difference. But regardless of what it is, appealing to people who are so far out of touch with the rest of the world is its own liability.

    And Romney will lose because of that, I think.

  10. stonetools says:

    @wr:

    The cognoscenti have been solemnly pronouncing since day one that debates have no impact on elections. Maybe they need to give up on this trope.
    The first debate clearly did move the polls substantially Romney’s way, contra Doug’s predictions.
    That movement slowed if not stopped, after the VP debate.
    To blithely say now that THIS debate will likely have no effect seems like mere repetition of dogma to me. You might be correct, but its at least 50-50 that you might be wrong.
    Democratic enthusiasm will most likely surge again, and that will affect the election.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    I’d like a solid, adult, argument for the attack as the President’s biggest foreign policy vulnerability.

    You forget John, that we are talking about the American electorate and there is very little that is “adult” about them.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    A couple of beers, four dollars. A large bowl of popcorn, eighty six cents. The look on Romney’s face – priceless.

    Do you really think they’re campaigning to the eighty seven people in Ohio who are still undecided and are going to vote anyway? Or do you think that at this point it’s about energizing and de-energizing respective bases? And donors?

  13. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Partly that was because of the inappropriate decision of moderator Candy Crowley to become a fact checker in the debate

    Debates should be instantly fact checked by the moderator.

    I mean if Crowley or, even better, Raddatz had been the moderator for the first debate then things would have been very different.
    Less lying, more truth.

  14. Geek, Esq. says:

    If it halts Romney’s momentum, that’s a significant win for Obama. Romney was approaching–but had not taken–the lead in the swing states he needs to win.

    Also, Romney shot himself in the foot with women voters–the “binders full of women” answer was not only goofy, it was condescending. When he said there were no qualified women and later said “employers will want to hire so much they’ll hire women” he sounded like a sexist trying to pander to women. And then blaming Murphy Brown for gun violence? Turned out real swell for Dan Quayle.

    Latinos, apparently Romney is not going to try for them.

  15. rodney dill says:

    @KariQ: Agreed. About a week.

  16. Herb says:

    @john personna:

    “I’d like a solid, adult, argument for the attack as the President’s biggest foreign policy vulnerability.”

    No F’ing shhh.

    I think everyone recognizes it as such, and if he wins this thing it’s going to have ramifications. I think Clinton’s gone at State. Congress is definitely going to get up his butt about it and any kind of Libyan policy going forward.

    Taking cues from Mitt Romney on this is just going to make us all sound like we don’t have a clue. It’s not about what the president said in the Rose Garden or what someone else said on some show. Give me a break. It’s about what we’re going to do with the Libya situation.

    Oh, and….”Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension? Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?” Someone should put that up as an hour long video on Youtube.

    Sounded like the Annoying Orange telling a knock-knock joke.

  17. stonetools says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    This is utterly crazy and I don’t think it’s only Obama’s race that drives the difference.

    You mentioned race, and as conservatives will tell you, race plays no part in conservatives’ opposition to Obama. To refer to race is itself racist. You should understand that , going forward.

  18. Geek, Esq. says:

    @john personna:

    Obama’s biggest foreign policy disappointment has been Afghanistan–quite clearly what he’s doing isn’t working.

    The wise attack would be “how do you ask someone to be the last person to die for a mistake?”

    Instead, Romney comes off as wanting a longer occupation and thus owns the consequences for a disastrous occupation that’s going on under Obama.

    That’s what happens when you have no idea what you’re doing and staff up with Neocon retreads.

  19. Modulo Myself says:

    @stonetools:

    And he’s divided us, when he was supposed to heal us!

    It reminds me of that great Homer Simpson quote about psychologists:

    “They turn wives against husbands! Children against fathers! Neighbors against me!”

  20. john personna says:

    @Herb:

    I think everyone recognizes it as such, and if he wins this thing it’s going to have ramifications. I think Clinton’s gone at State. Congress is definitely going to get up his butt about it and any kind of Libyan policy going forward.

    US oil companies are frolicking in Libya. I doubt any congress-critter will really want to upset that.

  21. stonetools says:

    Taking cues from Mitt Romney on this is just going to make us all sound like we don’t have a clue. It’s not about what the president said in the Rose Garden or what someone else said on some show. Give me a break. It’s about what we’re going to do with the Libya situation.

    Conservatives displayed no concern about Libya prior to September 12, largely because it was an unqualified foreign policy success. After September 12, Libya was all of a sudden the linchpin of Obama’s entire foreign policy and THE GREATEST FOREIGN POLICY DISASTER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.
    Should things turn out well for Obama-for example, should the perpetrators be caught or killed-Libya policy will instantly vanish once again as a conservative concern.

  22. john personna says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    Instead, Romney comes off as wanting a longer occupation and thus owns the consequences for a disastrous occupation that’s going on under Obama.

    I think he does want that longer occupation, which makes the hyping of 4 deaths extremely callow.

  23. Geek, Esq. says:

    @john personna:

    Actually, I don’t think Romney really cares. Which is part of his problem–he really has no interest in foreign policy. He’s a lot more comfortable talking economics and numbers than national security.

    He’s face-planted twice on Libya. Ryan went off the rails on Afghanistan against Biden. Not to mention insulting the British, etc.

  24. Modulo Myself says:

    @stonetools:

    The only foreign policy adventure that conservatives support is the one that transports a Green Zone Inc. Gated Community (patrolled by George Zimmerman Security Consultants) everywhere there’s an American flag and people who aren’t white.

  25. john personna says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    Romney has consistently supported Neocons as his foreign policy advisers. It is quite optimistic to hope they’d all be turned out, after a Romney win. It’s not like they are there now for their popularity with the mainstream voter.

  26. Facebones says:

    @wr: Of course, if Romney had snatched a baby out of the audience to use as a shield against an assassin’s bullet, Doug would still be saying it was essentially a tie and wouldn’t change the election much…

    If you squint, Willard looks a little like Martin Sheen in Dead Zone.

  27. Herb says:

    @john personna:

    “US oil companies are frolicking in Libya. I doubt any congress-critter will really want to upset that.”

    Oh, there’s too many of them and the temptation is too great. Give em a gavel, a cute title, and stick a camera in their face.

    You’ll find a whole committee.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    Obama’s biggest foreign policy disappointment has been Afghanistan–quite clearly what he’s doing isn’t working.

    The wise attack would be “how do you ask someone to be the last person to die for a mistake?”

    Instead, Romney comes off as wanting a longer occupation and thus owns the consequences for a disastrous occupation that’s going on under Obama.

    He doesn’t just come off as wanting a longer occupation, he does want one. Heck, I’d put even money on him wanting to re-invade Iraq. We should have left Afghanistan a long time ago.

  29. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    In fact, 6 died yesterday in Afghanistan in more green-on-blue attacks there. I’d think a solid, adult, argument about foreign policy would be centered about 5000 miles east of Libya.

    The Republicans, who are in a frenzy about the four who died in Libya, betray no concern at all about the (many more) soldiers dying in Afghanistan or civilians dying in drone attacks. Why? Because they want to double down on Afghan occupation and drone war.
    Like it or not, Obama has no worries about an attack from the Republicans on either of those policies-except an insistence that he do more.
    Maybe this is something that left can take up in Obama’s second term. For now the left is united behind getting Obama re-elected (rightly so, IMO).

  30. rodney dill says:

    The second debate replayed in 7 seconds.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Herb:

    You’ll find a whole committee.

    If Obama wins.

  32. cian says:

    It was nice to see Obama doing well, performing as most of us had expected him to perform in the first debate. Romney didn’t have a brilliant debate, but he held his own for large parts, and while Obama did manage to punch a few holes in his tax plan, not enough I think to seriously damage him with the electorate.

    Where Obama did score well was on social issues, highlighting Romney’s twists and turns on the immigration question, and his complete lack of credibility and understanding when it comes to what really matters for women. Did he do enough to shore up his support amongst these two critical voting groups, support which has been slipping over the last two weeks? Time will tell, but certainly, I would be very surprised if this doesn’t stop the bleeding.

    On another note, Doug’s comment on Crowly and ‘inappropriate fact checking’. As a phrase that’s got to be up there in the ‘legitimate rape’ category. When Dems lose a debate they get panicked, when the other side lose they get weird.

  33. Rafer Janders says:

    Partly that was because of the inappropriate decision of moderator Candy Crowley to become a fact checker in the debate,

    Explain why you think this is inappropriate. If someone is lying, why shouldn’t he expect to get called out on his lies? And what else is a journalist, for, really, other than to tell the public the facts about what’s going on? If a journalist hears a politician deliberately mislead the public with a lie, why shouldn’t the journalist correct the record? If not them, who? If not then, when?

  34. wr says:

    @ptfe: Well, I have seen some celebrities accused of using babies as a fashion statement…

  35. Cycloptichorn says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    They believe it’s inappropriate, because the GOP strategy relies – and has for years – on lies and mis-directions. If they can’t embed the meme that a moderator isn’t allowed to call someone out on a lie now, it will be disastrous down the road.

  36. Neil Hudelson says:

    I don’t think this debate will have much impact, in the same way I don’t think the last debate had much impact.

    Before the last debate, Romney had been trending upward for quite some days. After the debate he continued to trend upward and became the front runner.

    Leading up to this debate, according to RCP, Romney has been trending downward (while still remaining the front runner) after this debate, he will continue to trend downward. Maybe allowing Obama to become the front runner or maybe just staying essentially tied.

    (see the bottom trend line, It is the most telling IMO)

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html

  37. stonetools says:

    @cian:

    On another note, Doug’s comment on Crowly and ‘inappropriate fact checking’. As a phrase that’s got to be up there in the ‘legitimate rape’ category. When Dems lose a debate they get panicked, when the other side lose they get weird.

    If you look at Memorandum, the right wing noise machine is busy litigating whether Obama called the Benghazi deaths an act of terror-despite transcripts!

    It really goes to show that they really do create their own reality. In right wing world Obama never uttered those remarks condemning the Benghazi deaths as an “act of terror”. It was just airbrushed out of their reality, and so this was reality Mitt Romney was operating in yesterday. Imagine their consternation when Romney and the right wingosphere saw saw that Obama did make such statements. How could that be! He must have been talking about something else! Also too, shame on the journalist for pointing out objective truth in real time. Its unimportant that she did the right thing-what mattered was the PROCESS. How dare a moderator defend truth, rather than “he said, she said?”
    Note that the audience applauded her action. Maybe the public is tired of politicians getting away with just lying, and not being called on it.

  38. Stonetools,

    As the moderator it was not Crowley’s job to take sides in the debate. If nothing else, this debate revealed what a crappy “journalist” she really is.

  39. Facebones says:

    @stonetools:

    In right wing world Obama never uttered those remarks condemning the Benghazi deaths as an “act of terror”. It was just airbrushed out of their reality, and so this was reality Mitt Romney was operating in yesterday.

    It’s the same old BS semantics you see all the time on the right. “He didn’t say ‘terrorism!’ He said ‘act of terror’! Therefore, that Kenyan socialist refused to condemn terrorism!”

    This stuff plays huge in RushLand. Mitt tried to use the same Fox talking points and got burned.

  40. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As the moderator it was not Crowley’s job to take sides in the debate. If nothing else, this debate revealed what a crappy “journalist” she really is.

    She didn’t “take sides in the debate,” she pointed out the truth. IMO, that’s good journalism. How do you define good journalism?
    Apparently, you are perfectly fine with a moderator allowing a politician to tell blatant lies on the national stage. We will have to agree to disagree there.

  41. Scott F. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Crowley took sides?

    Well, facts do have a liberal bias. That must be it.

  42. PogueMahone says:

    @Scott F.:

    Crowley took sides?

    Well, facts do have a liberal bias. That must be it.

    Dammit… Scott beat me to it.

    You gotta be quick around these parts. 🙂

  43. Stupid liberals says:

    Stupid liberals with their facts checks

  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Pointing out the truth is not taking sides. I think you’ve been a lawyer too long.

  45. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “As the moderator it was not Crowley’s job to take sides in the debate.”

    This would not be a problem if “taking a side” did not mean “Ah, just let the Republican lie.”

    Mitt Romney’s Benghazi criticism really is skin deep. It’s about Rose Garden speeches and Sunday talk shows. It’s all optics. “Policy? Who cares? I’m trying to win the presidency here….”