Romney Won The Debate, But Will It Matter?

Mitt Romney won the debate last night, but it's not at all clear that this will matter at all.

I agree with James Joyner’s assessment that Mitt Romney was the clear winner of last night’s debate. Going into the event, to be honest, the former Massachusetts Governor essentially had to come across well as a bare minimum or the negative momentum that he had been experiencing ever since the Democratic National Convention ended would have gotten worse and, more importantly, fellow Republicans would have lost even more faith in the campaign’s ability to pull off a victory. In the run up to the debate, of course, both sides were engaged in playing the expectations game in a manner that sought to downplay their candidates chances while playing up the debating ability of their opponent. Well, everyone except Chris Christie that is.

Once the two candidates walked on the stage last night, though, all those games didn’t matter, all that matter was how they performed and I don’t think it can be denied that Mitt Romney got the better of the President last night. Where Romney was forceful and on the attack against the President most of the night, the President seemed off and defensive. More than once, when the camera would do a split-screen of the two men, you would see Obama looking down at his notes while Romney was addressing him while Romney would be looking the President directly in the eye. When it was time for the President to make his own attacks on his opponent, they were remarkably low key. There was little mention of the themes that Obama, Vice-President Biden, and campaign and SuperPac advertising have been hitting on for months now. There was no mention of Bain Capital, no mention of the “47 percent,” no mention of Romney’s taxes. In defending his own record, the President seemed tepid and, as more than one observer has noted, just plain annoyed to have to be on the stage.

As The New York Times noted in its wrap-up of the debate, by the time the debate ended it was clear who the winner was:

The immediate reaction to Wednesday night’s presidential debate was a torrent of criticism directed at President Obama, with Republicans, and as well as many Democrats, accusing Mr. Obama of delivering a flat, uninspired and defensive performance.

Republicans seemed genuinely surprised that his opponent, Mitt Romney, was energetic, aggressive and presidential during his first-ever general election debate.

“In a thoroughly dominating performance, Romney bested Barack Obama in both tone and substance,” Stephen F. Hayes of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine wrote after the debate. “Obama often found himself at the end of a verbal cul-de-sac, seemingly unaware of how he’d ended up there.”

On Twitter, some of Mr. Obama’s Democratic allies expressed anger and disappointment that the president did not make better use of the “47 percent” speech by Mr. Romney and other missteps that the Democratic campaign has spent months honing into attack ads and stump speeches.

Andrew Sullivan, a blogger and strong supporter of Mr. Obama, echoed Peggy Noonan, a former Republican speechwriter, on Twitter, saying that “this is a rolling calamity for Obama.” Mr. Sullivan added: “He’s boring, abstract, and less human-seeming than Romney!”

And Bill Maher, the liberal comedian who had donated $1 million to a “superPAC” backing Mr. Obama, joked: “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter.”

At this point, it remains unclear whether these snap assessments and others made immediately after the debate will be matched by the more sober judgments of voters in the upcoming days. Voters sometimes surprise the pundits by coming to different conclusions about the outcome of a presidential debate.

And Mr. Obama’s top strategists predicted that some of Mr. Romney’s answers — in particular, his admissions about the need for a voucher system for Medicare — would deepen the concern in some communities about Mr. Romney’s policies.

“He was unable and unwilling to explain the math behind his $5 trillion tax cut favoring the wealthy, refused to say what rules he’d put in place to protect consumers after repealing Wall Street reform, and didn’t offer a single idea to protect families from insurance company abuses after repealing Obamacare,” Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said in a statement after the debate.

The candidates head out to the campaign trail immediately, where Mr. Romney will have to find a way to turn the positive reviews from the debate into a sustained push that changes the dynamic of the race. He is expected to campaign with Representative Paul D. Ryan, his vice-presidential running mate, in Virginia on Thursday evening.

Mr. Obama has been very aggressive of late on the stump, and his scheduled events on Thursday in Denver and Madison, Wis., will give him a quick opportunity to show that energy. But some Democrats charged with helping to elect Mr. Obama in some key swing states privately expressed frustration after the debate Wednesday night that Mr. Obama’s lackluster performance made their jobs harder.

Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics described the debate as a “manhandling”  of Obama by Romney:

[I]t was Romney who did the pounding last night, assailing the president’s record on the two most important issues of the campaign — the economy and jobs.

“My priority is putting people back to work in America,” Romney said during an exchange early in the debate. “They’re suffering in this country. And we talk about evidence. Look at the evidence of the last four years. It’s absolutely extraordinary. We’ve got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country. When the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps; 47 million on food stamps today; economic growth this year slower than last year, and last year slower than the year before. Going forward with the status quo is not going to cut it for the American people who are struggling today.”

In that one exchange, the GOP nominee did what he and all his party’s surrogates were unable to do in three days during their Tampa convention: succinctly sum up the rationale for a Romney presidency. Romney’s performance was so dominating that even Obama’s staunchest supporters — including members of his campaign team and the cheerleaders at MSNBC — were forced to concede Romney won the debate. And they were not happy about it.

Chris Matthews got more than a tingle up his leg Wednesday night watching Obama, berating the president for not putting up more of a fight for liberalism, as the pundits do on his network.

“Where was Obama tonight? There’s a hot debate going on in this country. You know where it’s been held? Here on this network is where we’re having the debate,” Matthews fumed. “We have our knives out. We go after the people and the facts. What was he doing tonight? He went in there disarmed.”

The real question, of course, is whether any of this will actually matter in the end. As I noted during the run-up to the debates, there’s very little evidence that debates have ever been game changers in Presidential elections. Nate Cohen is skeptical of the idea that the debate is likely to be a game changer, while Harry Enten sees a possibility that Romney may benefit from the debate but doubts that it will have a major impact on the polls unless other factors in Romney’s favor start to intervene.  At the very least, though, as Politico notes, Romney’s performance last night has managed to shake off the sense of impending doom that was enveloping his campaign and becoming the main topic of discussion among pundits. Clearly, if Romney had had a bad night last night the story today would be about how his campaign was in crisis mode. That didn’t happen, though, and, at least for the moment, Romney has been given a second chance. Add to that the fact that, before the debate, there was evidence that Romney was closing the gap in the national polls, and the Romney campaign is probably feeling good right about now. In fact, I would suspect we’ll see an uptick for Romney in the tracking polls over the next couple of days leading up to the Vice-Presidential Debate on October 12th. The question, though, is whether this debate will be seen as the moment the 2012 Presidential Election took a major turn.

History suggests a difficult path ahead for Mitt Romney notwithstanding the outcome of last night’s debate.

For some reason, there has been a history of incumbent President’s performing poorly in the first head-to-head debate of the run for re-election. It happened to Ronald Reagan in 1984 when, in his first debate with Walter Mondale, Reagan appeared befuddled, confused, and just plain out of it. There had already been concerns expressed by some about Reagan’s advanced age at the time, and the events of October 7, 1984 only seemed to reinforce those concerns. At the second debate some three weeks later, though, Reagan effectively ended those concerns with pulling off one o the best debate lines in political history, as well as by not exhibiting any of the behavior the nation had seen at the first debate. It’s unclear that Reagan was ever in any danger of losing the election back then, I kind of doubt it, but his first debate performance was a problem for his campaign at the time. Similar problems developed for George W. Bush during his first debate with John Kerry in 2004.  Based largely on his own demeanor during the debate, Bush came away largely seen has having lost the debate, something which energized the campaign of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. That was only temporary, though, because Bush came back in the second and third debates and erased many of the doubts that had developed in the Miami debate.  Now, it’s happened to Barack Obama.

For both Reagan and Bush, that first lackluster debate performance led to problems for the campaign, but those problems were only temporary. After the subsequent debates, the story became how the candidate had “come back” and their campaign was re-energized. Will the same thing happen for Obama? It’s certainly possible. After all, the next debate on October 17th is a town-hall style debate. This is a format that Obama is likely to be very comfortable with, and one that he has used in his campaign appearances going all the way back to 2007. It’s very easy to see him doing quite well under these circumstances. Romney, on the other hand, hasn’t always done well in these one-on-one interactions with the public, often coming across as awkward to one degree or another. I would suggest that Obama has and advantage going into the next debate and that, if he does well, it will likely put an end to whatever doubts are going to arise over the next two weeks.

In addition to the town hall debate, there’s also the Vice-Presidential Debate on October 12th. Ever since Paul Ryan was named to the Republican ticket, I’ve noticed that most people on the right are assuming that Ryan is going to wipe the floor with Biden. That could be true, but it strikes me that this is just another example of conservatives underestimating the Vice-President, a phenomenon I noted shortly after Ryan was selected. There were many during the 2008 Democratic primary race who said that Biden was the best debater in the group of candidates while he was still in the race, especially on issues of foreign policy. Additionally, his performance in the debate four years ago with Sarah Palin was fairly good, and certainly didn’t do anything to hurt the ticket. The idea that Biden is some kind of blubbering idiot who may not even remember to wear pants for the debate strikes me as extreme foolishness. It’s entirely possible that Biden will do just fine in next week’s debate, he could even be perceived as having “won” it. If that happens, then at least some of the negative impressions from last night will start to disappear.

As we did in 1984 and 2004, we are left with an incumbent President who came across badly in the first debate of the election cycle. Those two Presidents managed to turn things around in subsequent debates and pull off a victory and there’s no reason to think that President Obama won’t be able to do the same. It could turn out differently this time, of course. Mitt Romney could be so re-energized from last night that he ends up turning his entire campaign around and actually makes this race a contest. Right now, though, it’s impossible to say what will happen, but the idea that the election is over in any respect after last night is simply absurd.

Update: Tom Dougherty has commented on this post, and the debate, in a post I commend to your attention.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Rob in CT says:

    Do you mean 1984? Obviously in 1980 the challenger won the election…

    Anyway, surely this will eat into Obama’s lead. The next 2 debates now matter more than they did before.

    From Obama’s perspective, it’s a nice thing to have had the lead to work with. But this has to be a wake-up call that he needs to prep differently for the other debates.

  2. Buzz Buzz says:

    Romney Won The Debate, But Will It Matter?

    Those grapes were probably sour, anyway.

  3. stonetools says:

    The real question, of course, is whether any of this will actually matter in the end. As I noted during the run-up to the debates, there’s very little evidence that debates have ever been game changers in Presidential elections

    There’s always a first time. No carrier-borne airplanes ever sank a battleship during combat-till Pearl Harbor.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    What’s does matter is the Obama Campaign’s response to a polished, but inherently dishonest, debate performance.
    If Romney’s mix of fairy dust, unicorn tears, and “because, I say so” is allowed to stand, then low information voters will probably be convinced. And his Base is focused on team sports and winning that they will be silent on his sudden swing back to Massachusetts Mitt.
    If Obama manages to use Romney’s lies and etch-a-sketch moments against him, then maybe not so much.
    We’ll know in a month or so.

  5. DC Loser says:

    There’s always a first time. No carrier-borne airplanes ever sank a battleship during combat-till Pearl Harbor.

    The first use of airplanes to sink or severly damage capital warships was the Royal Navy attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto in 1940. This was the inspiration for the Pearl Harbor attack.

  6. JEBurke says:

    Jeez, Doug, you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for pro-Obama spin. Of course, Romney’s win matters. What happened in 1984 or 2004 is utterly irrelevant. These historical comparisons are favored playthings of pundits who need something to write or talk about, but trust me, politicians pay no attention to them. This election is now; it’s unique; and it’s unquestionably close enough for anything and everything to matter. Will Obama show up with a better game at the next debate? Maybe, maybe not. If he does, maybe Romney will show up again with a masterful game. One debate is not a campaign and Obama is still the favorite (60/40 in my estimation), but it is just plain silly to contend that Romney’s performance won’t affect a two-point race.

  7. Fiona says:

    Good post, Doug. Time will tell if Obama can rebound from his weak performance and if Romney can consistently hold on to re-emergence of his moderate persona, Massachusetts Mitt or if he once again reverts to Tea Party Mitt.

    If I were Obama’s team I’d be publicly speculating on which of Mitt’s multiple personalities will show up not only for the next debates, but also in the Oval Office should Mitt pull off a win.

  8. stonetools says:

    @DC Loser:

    Damn! Forgot Taranto. OK, that was the first time. :-(.

  9. Rob in CT says:

    Doug, you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for pro-Obama spin


    Doug may or may not be viewing this correctly, but one thing is sure: he’s not in the tank for Barack Obama. We’ve had this out with him. At length.

  10. stonetools says:

    Speaking of air power, Obama’s campaign are probably already busy cutting ads contrasting Debate Mitt with Campaign Mitt. There’s also Math-Challenged Mitt to kick around.
    When you’ve got lemons, make lemonade.

  11. Rick Almeida says:


    Yes, every event is unique and nothing can be analyzed or predicted.

    The conservative movement has fully embraced postmodernism.

  12. Modulo Myself says:

    Romney, the GOP as a party and the entire base should regret that the Romney who showed up for the debate was saddled with such shit material.

  13. JEBurke says:

    @JEBurke: One of the best Democratic strategists of the past several decades, Carter Eskew, spells out here just how sweeping and devastating Romney’s win was.

  14. Tsar Nicholas says:

    What’s funny about a headline such as this one is that if the roles had been reversed the chattering classes in total lock step would have declared the contest over, Obama the winner, Romney the loser, don’t bother even voting, stick a fork in it, it’s finished, finito. Of course that shouldn’t suprise anyone. The chattering classes are loopier than Laguna Seca raceway.

    That aside, debates don’t determine the outcome of presidential elections. Never have. Never will. In incumbent elections the economy at large and specifically the job market determine the outcome. With one ginormous slate of caveats: The country now is a lot dumber than it used to be, the media is a lot more partisan than it used to be, and never before (and hopefully never again) has a politician been able to rely on this degree of lock step voting from such a large collection of separate but connected political identity groups. So even if Obama continues showing the world his true colors at these debates it’s beyond doubt that Obama nevertheless could win a second term. Misery loves company.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    Who in the f*** is Carter Eskew?
    He ran Gore’s losing campaign…the one where Gore foolishly did not embrace Clinton…and a handful of Senators…including Lieberman, who can barely be called a Democrat. And I say that as a resident of CT.
    It cracks me up when Republicans, desperate to make a point that isn’t valid, pull out these nobodies and anoint them as leading democratic Strategists.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    I’m unsure of long term effect on voters, I hope Doug’s right, and not much. But I expect last night’s performance boosted morale considerably amongst Romney’s campaign staff and probably kept a few donors from jumping ship.

  17. Console says:

    Obama was already polling at 49 and 50 percent. What matters in this election is that there isn’t a whole lot of undecideds, and for Romney to win, he pretty much has to win every single one of them because people tend not to change their minds very easily.

  18. jan says:

    In a focus group, following the debate, a woman succinctly explained what happened: “Up until now Obama has defined Romney. Tonight Romney defined himself.”

    That was essentially truth in simplicity.

    Up until now, Romney has been swamped with criticisms/jabs about his Bain business success, his inability to connect with people (be warm and fuzzy), his awkward gaffes, a teenage prank, not giving over greater numbers of tax returns, taken out of context 47% remarks etc. These personal attacks distracted away from discussions dealing with the country’s problems at hand. In fact it has long been known, from Obama strategic operatives, that they intended to dismantle Romney by character assassination rather than get into the weeds of pragmatic economic concerns and differences.

    Last night there was little to none of the former campaign political banter/blather. All those ad zingers were shelved, including Romney’s ‘You did not build that,’ to Obama’s ‘He doesn’t care about half the country.’ Last night it was face to face ideological perspectives being explained personally by Obama and Romney as to how each sees a path out of this fiscal mess. There was no teleprompter to assist in finessing talking points, only what each man had scripted in his own head, and yes, heart.

    What changed some peoples’ previous opinions about Romney was the business acumen demonstrated, no matter the question, his grasp of what makes small business work, his humor, empathy, dignity, the civil but strong discourse he was capable of delivering etc.

    Will this debate change the election? I don’t know. However, it will revise Romney’s image, at least the one that has been cleverly carved out by the dems for so many long months. Mitt Romney is a credible candidate. He is a smart and moral guy. The only skeletons in his closet are that he is a self-made man worth millions. And, if people can step away from class warfare tripe for a moment, concentrating more on how a leader can get 23 million people back to work, the juggernaut of Romney’s own success and wealth will fall into the background of noise, replaced by solution based rhetoric, hopefully from both sides of the aisle.

    BTW, one of the reasons that Obama may not have fared well last night was that he has not been challenged with tough questions for most of his presidency, or even his candidacy in the ’08 election. His answers for this country have been pre-packaged in platitudes (hope and change were the fuzzy remedies). His press conferences have been scant and scripted. His interviews are often entertainment-oriented, with reporters who idolize him, and consequently full of soft balls making him look congenial and likable. Basically the MSM has run interference for him for most of his political life. Last night was one of the few, if not first, times he was looked in the eye and actually had to own his own policies, his ideology, and the outcome of both, having him reconcile these policies, his vision with the public in a way that they wanted more of the same.

    IMO, the election has finally legitimately begun…..

  19. stonetools says:


    What changed some peoples’ previous opinions about Romney was the business acumen demonstrated, no matter the question, his grasp of what makes small business work, his humor, empathy, dignity, the civil but strong discourse he was capable of delivering etc.

    Does it bother you, Jan, that this Romney on policy is substantially different from campaign Romney? Well, I guess not.

    Goes to show that conservatives just want to win, and they don’t really give a damn about the policy. John persona, take note.

  20. Anderson says:

    Biden was the best debater in the group of candidates while he was still in the race

    Didn’t Biden come up with the classic putdown of Giuliani? “Everything out of his mouth is a noun, a verb, and ‘9/11.'” (I quote from memory.)

  21. LaMont says:


    You know, you are absolutely correct! Romney did define himself. He defined himself to be an absolute liar! Check the facts against his substance. Fact-checkers all over the place appear to agree. Now it is Obama’s problem for not challenging Romney on them. In my opinion, Obama more or less dropped the ball on this one!

  22. bk says:

    We are all familiar with the concept of “run to the right, govern from the center” as an effective – and often beneficial – strategy. Last night, though, Romney flat out DENIED that he had been “running to the right” for the past 18 months. He DENIED taking the positions on taxes, pre-existing conditions, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Dodd-Frank and other government regulations, that he has been publicly running on since his campaign started. This was in addition to completely fabricating numbers and results relating to some of the administration’s current programs. In other words, HE LIED.

    Most of the commenters here follow politics on more than a disinterested basis, and thus know that much of what Romney said last night was totally dishonest. Unfortunately, out of the 60 million viewers who watched that debate, more than a few were “low-information” voters (and/or those who don’t live in swing states and thus don’t see a lot of the commercials that show him saying things that he denied ever saying). They came out of it thinking that hey, this guy seems pretty moderate and down-to-earth after all. That is what frightens me.

  23. Fiona says:

    What changed some peoples’ previous opinions about Romney was the business acumen demonstrated, no matter the question, his grasp of what makes small business work, his humor, empathy, dignity, the civil but strong discourse he was capable of delivering etc.

    Nonsense. Romney has no clue what makes small business work; he’s a corporate guy and has never been anywhere near a small business. His expertise is the leveraged buy-out. To be fair, Obama hasn’t got a clue either, which is why my eyes glaze over when either of them start talking small business.

    And Jan, I agree that Romney defined himself as Massachusetts Mitt with a thin overlay of social conservatism (and I suspect he’ll moderate that social conservatism if he thinks it’s what’s necessary to get him over the finish line and into the White House). The only question is how long will this latest iteration of Mitt stick around. And, if elected, which Mitt will go to the White House.

    As to your statement that Obama has never really been challenged before–did you see any of his debates with Hillary? I don’t know why Obama sucked so badly last night. Perhaps it was because he expected Tea Party Mitt to show up and got Massachusetts Mitt instead. Whatever the reason, he’d better be a lot sharper in the next two debates or it’s quite possible he’ll lose.

  24. Fiona says:

    There was no teleprompter to assist in finessing talking points, only what each man had scripted in his own head, and yes, heart.

    If I had a dollar for every time a conservative pulls out the teleprompter meme, I’d be a rich woman.

    Jan, you should be writing shoddy romance novels.

  25. RaflW says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Well, going in to last night, Obama had a clear path to 270 electoral votes, and Ohio looked like crap fro Romney. So if, actually, Obama had clearly won last night’s debate, there would be cause to think he’d made big progress towards locking the election.
    Because, you see, there’s a whole lot going on besides that vacuum-sealed 90 minutes with the befuddled Lehrer. Conext, how does it work?

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Fiona: Also considering that Syria and Turkey have been trading shots over the border….

    I think if Mitt Romney gets elected to position of POTUS it’s going to be the biggest case of dog-catching-car-and-not-knowing-what-to-do-with-it EVAH.

  27. RaflW says:

    @LaMont: Romney did define himself. He defined himself to be an absolute liar
    Heck, his own campaign has distanced itself from things Romney said less than 24 hours ago. He ‘misspoke’ (twice!) about the green jobs failure rate.

    He does not, in fact, have a plan to cover most pre-existing conditions. So yeah, he fabricated plenty last night to define himself. I was stunned when in the first few minutes he basically claimed he wouldn’t lower taxes on the rich. He knows the public in fact wants to raise taxes on high incomes. He can’t say that since it’s anathema to the party. But he could spout facile lies that his plan wouldn’t lower what the rich pay.

    You could, with grounding in his previous mendacity, parse what he was really saying (‘same share’ does not mean same amount, for example), but most debate watchers – and I don’t mean low info voters, but average reasonably informed ones – wouldn’t get that, at least not at first an in the staccato bursts of denials of past positions, bouts of faux detail, etc.

    It was a masterful display of Romney’s. But there’s no there, there. Still. Because the real there in the GOP platform is disliked by most voters.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    “…“Up until now Obama has defined Romney. Tonight Romney defined himself…”

    The fact that Romney completely changed…actually be re-defining himself… doesn’t even enter your tiny little head, does it?

  29. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Jeez, Doug, you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for pro-Obama spin.”

    LMAO. This is the 3rd post on this blog today (after James Joyner & Steven Taylor) that goes out it’s way to in effect say: Move along folks; Romney won but it doesn’t matter – Obama has it in the bag anyway. After spending weeks and weeks, telling is the election is over and guzzling champagne, they now are going over board trying to rationalize why they’ve been right all along that Obama can do no wrong.

    At least other Liberals such as Andrew Sullivan, Michael Moore, Bill Maher see this performance by Obama for what it is: A bumbling disaster of a performance than has the potential to transform the race. The Obama sychophants here at OTB need to convince themselves otherwise, even to the point of quoting irrelevant statistics from past debate performances. I say let them continue to delude themselves into thinking their guy has this in the bag and can coast on his empty record hoisted up by the Wash DC/NY Liberal Media echo chamber.

  30. jan says:

    It’s kind of funny hearing you think that another Romney showed up at the debate last night. Yes, Romney didn’t stammer as much, and showed more confidence. He also didn’t make any gaffes in which the media could zero in on and embarrassingly replay over and over again. However, the basic thrust of his policies (private sector incentives, state rights, collaborating with democrats, implementation of a smaller more efficient government) and core moral philosophy, which he espoused last night, is basically what I’ve seen him write in opinion pieces over the years, in how he governed in MA, and the clips of various stump speeches.

    Most of you, though, only read and hear about Obama’s opponent through the filter of a fawning press, your own circle of liberal friends, in other words a self-contained left-sided political bubble. So, all you can come up with is the same old same old negative stuff.

    Also, Fiona, it was an unfair battle between Hillary and Obama in ’08 too. The media was determined to elect Obama over Hillary — I don’t know where you were in that election to not have picked up on that. It was very frustrating for both Clintons, as they felt she was the superior candidate (remember the 3AM call ad) who somehow got second tier coverage, and, because of having to be racially tactful, couldn’t go full bore into criticism of him because of the possibility of an AA backlash. Actually, some of it did backfire on Bill Clinton in the Carolina’s.

  31. bk says:


    It’s kind of funny hearing you think that another Romney showed up at the debate last night. Yes, Romney didn’t stammer as much, and showed more confidence.

    You know, I have yet to see (here or anywhere) someone saying that Romney seemed “different” last night because he was more confident and articulate. I would venture to say that you haven’t either. What we have both seen are thousands of comments, and articles, saying that he seemed “different” BECAUSE HE DENIED SAYING THINGS THAT HE IS ON RECORD AS HAVING SAID FOR THE PAST 18 MONTHS. You can call that “confidence”. Others have been calling it “lying”.

  32. Fiona says:


    Hillary held her own quite well in 2008. She exploited Obama’s weaknesses quite well. Obviously, it was frustrating for her to lose given her status as clear front runner, but she didn’t lose because the press was in the bag for Obama (another favorite conservative meme right up there with the teleprompter). Instead, it was a combination of her stance on the Iraq war, a certain degree of Clinton fatigue, Obama’s strategy, and his speaking abilities that did her in.

    As for Romney, he also didn’t stammer during his convention speech, where he failed to define himself, or his 47 percent comments in front of his donors. Which one of those guys was the real Romney? What he showed in last night’s debate is that he was willing to redefine himself yet again. People don’t trust Romney because he’s a shape shifter and, while he made a convincing pitch last night, we’ll see how many of his newly found moderate positions he has to eat by the time the next debate comes along.

  33. Fiona says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Sullivan has stepped back from the edge. Here’s his reassessment:

  34. Mr. Replica says:

    From the link that Fiona posted:

    Show us where the new revenues come from or at least which are on your chopping block (sorry, PBS won’t solve the problem).

    Those in the Romney camp love to hear things such as this. That cutting funding to PBS(and in the past NPR) is a great start to getting the deficit under control. Even tho it really does nothing in the overall scale of the debt.

    In the financial year for 2010, the CPB reported receiving $506 million in federal appropriations. According to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, the federal budget for 2010 was $3.456 trillion. Using those numbers, the CPB receives about .00014 percent of the federal budget.

    But, when Obama advocates for the Buffet Rule, he is met with attacks saying that will do nothing at all or is not nearly enough to make an impact(and it’s blatant class warfare.) Even tho when one looks at the numbers:

    In 2008, there were 236,883 tax filers reporting income of $1 million or more. The Patriotic Millionaires, a group advocating the repeal of the Bush tax cuts on tax filers making $1 million or more a year, estimated that their plan would raise $500 billion to $600 billion over 10 years. That sounds like a lot.

    But only $100 billion of that is projected savings from lower government debt costs. So the tax would actually raise $40 billion to $50 billion a year: equal to about 3% of the annual federal deficit.

    Granted, it’s something. And if you hiked the rates higher than the Clinton levels, and added another level for $10 million earners, it would be more.

    For a person to advocate that cutting funding for PBS/NPR is a great start, and then turn around and dismiss raising revenue, well they are not playing with a full deck. If they were serious about deficit reduction, BOTH of these options should be on the table.

    Last night Romney seemed to have moved to the middle and threw his support behind the S-B plan. I am not falling for this new moderate approach Romney has decided to go with. His past actions and speeches say otherwise, and the picking of Ryan, a person who harpooned the S-B plan, is an indicator on how they really feel about it.

  35. Dazedandconfused says:


    The chatterazzi were getting worked up last night. Chris “Hardbrain” Matthews was in full melt-down.

    Whew…take a break, boys. Mitt was making stuff up right and left. If Chris Wallace can take it apart, so can Obama. Two more to go.

    This is something “The Thinker”, Obama, has always had a problem with. Alan Simpson pointed it out recently. “A lie un-refuted is a lie believed in this game. Don’t let them get away with it.” Had Obama kicked back on the rank BS from the beginning of the healthcare mess, we might have gotten a better bill.

    Obama must realize that Mitt isn’t going to be doing any interviews with any Chris Wallace’s. The debates are it. He has to do it himself, because he is the only person Mitt can’t dodge and because his supporters expect it of him.

  36. Fiona says:


    Agreed. I watched Matthew’s meltdown last night. Wish I had a Valium to give him.

  37. KariQ says:

    I believe you are all overlooking the potential impact of Romney’s vow to fire Big Bird. I’m only half joking. Expect to hear a lot about it.

  38. Mr. Replica says:


    I have seen a lot of talk about that. Mostly people making memes about it on reddit, but it’s more popular than the debate itself.