Experts React to Presidential Debate
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney squared off in their second debate Tuesday. GoLocalProv asked local opinion makers to weigh in with their thoughts.
Rob Horowitz, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™
President Obama won a solid, if not overwhelming, victory over Mitt Romney. Obama managed to effectively make the case for his own policies while at the same time skillfully use Romney’s past statements and positions to draw a picture of the Republican candidate as someone whose actual policies would favor the wealthy no matter how appealing his current rhetoric may sound. Mr.Romney’s attempts to cross-examine the President did not work and at times came across as a bit overbearing. It will be interesting to see if Romney’s already high unfavorable rating ticks up a bit as a result. With a more aggressive President Obama, the testiness we saw in some of Romney’s debate performances in the Republican primaries returned. Further, Romney had a bad moment when he accused the President of being wrong when the President said the day after the attack on the Libyan embassy he called it an Act of Terror. As the moderator Candy Crowley pointed out and as the transcript confirms the President was right.
Obama’s win in the second debate was not as re-sounding as Romney’s victory in the first. The former Massachusetts Governor did have some good moments and was able to keep some of the focus throughout on the Obama economic record. All in all, however, it was a very good night for the President.
Travis Rowley, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™
A much better give-and-take than the first presidential debate. But President Obama just can’t compete with Mitt Romney whenever the former Governor of Massachusetts articulates his more-conservative economic plan – and whenever Romney reminds people of Obama’s record.
The low-point for Obama came when, during an exchange concerning the candidates’ personal overseas investments, he decided to take a cheap shot at Romney by saying that going through his own investments doesn’t take as long as it takes Romney to go through his much larger portfolio. It was a mindless attempt to gin up sentiments of class envy, a simple reminder to soft-brained voters that Mitt Romney is – get this – wealthy. Obama got a chuckle out of some audience members, and his far-left socialist base likely orgasmed after he said it. But, to the average American who couldn’t care less about Romney’s personal success, all Obama really did was openly acknowledge that Romney blew his ass away in the game of life.
Donna Perry, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™
Obama clearly came out fighting in contrast to his last debate performance. However, I think Romney certainly had a second strong debate performance and I think he continues to press a strong case that the President’s claim to be the champion of the middle class is not supported by his record and the current reality of the economy. The questions from the audience showed an authentic anxiety is being felt by the average person about the lack of jobs, high gas prices, overall concern that things are getting worse, not better under Obama.
Aaron Regunberg, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™
I laughed out loud at Obama's pension joke. I'm still laughing at Romney's "binders full of women" comment--and wincing at his "women need to be able to go home and cook dinner" comment.
Obama showed again that when he gets up and fights, he wins. Let's hope (for the millionth time) that he retains that message.
Last thought--once again, Romney makes clear he supports the President's K-12 education policies. To all those who identify as progressive, and who believe Romney will be a champion of millionaires and billionaires and will abandon everyone else, it should give us pause that he is so excited about Arne Duncan and company. If it seems to you like he's only interested in helping the 1% in every other policy area, why would education be different?
Justin Katz, Anchor Rising
The presidential town hall debate was the third in a string of debate "mosts," for me, this election season: The first presidential debate was the most one-sided in terms of performance; the vice presidential debate was the most obnoxious performance of sneers, laughs, and guffaws; and the second presidential debate was the most biased moderation I've ever seen. The great majority of questions seemed tailored for the president's messaging. The one clear exception was the question on Benghazi, and in that case, the moderator at best picked side on an ambiguous question and shut down Mitt Romney and at worst helped the president to rewrite history. At other points, Candy Crowley allowed Barack Obama to interject and redirect out of turn and in complete disproportion.
Bob Plain, Rhode Island’s Future
One of the really weird things about how we pick our president is the skill set it takes to get the gig has almost nothing to do with actually doing the job. No part of POTUS politics proves this more than the debates. Still, as the first debate showed in subsequent polls, they matter. The second debate will matter too, and Romney did as bad this time as Obama did the first time around.
The reason the result was so different in the second debate can be encapsulated in this line from the president: "It's just not true."
Romney tried in a second consecutive debate to mislead the electorate about his agenda if elected, saying he wants to protect the middle class. This time Obama called him out on it.
“Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan,” the president said. “He has a one-point plan: that plan is that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”
While Obama did well with traditional debate zingers like that one, Romney did himself no favors. He was testy and belligerent - two qualities not often confused with being presidential.
His worst moment of the night was no doubt when Candy Crowley had to step in and settle the dispute over when Obama first called the deaths in Banghazi a terrorist attack.
But my personal favorite was when he explained how difficult it was to find a female to name to his cabinet, and thought that would make voters think he understands how women have it worse in the workforce.
Sam Bell, RI Progressive Democrats
Obama won the debate cleanly. The president looked measured and presidential. Romney looked erratic and political. On substance, it wasn’t even close. On every point, from the auto bailout, to energy, to taxes, to the war in Iraq, to healthcare, to the economy, to whether we should make political hay over a terrorist attack, Obama dominated Romney.
Romney couldn’t run on the facts, so he just made things up. He pretended that Obama doubled the deficit, when he actually lowered it. Romney said that drilling on federal lands went down, when it actually went up. He pretended he didn’t support Arizona’s show-me-your-papers law. But he didn’t just support it; he called it a model for our nation to follow. Romney said he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class. But that’s just mathematically impossible under his plan.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that instant polls gave the debate to Obama by a solid margin.
But let’s be honest, what matters most is not the debate, but the media coverage. When Obama underperformed, the left admitted it. Now that Romney’s lost a debate, let’s see if conservatives have the honesty to admit it.
Dan Lawlor, GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™
Romney seemed much more ill at ease with the audience members, and Obama spoke policy, not always to the people in the room. From single parents to job creation to reproduction, both played to their base of supporters. Romney seemed a bit ridiculous critiquing off-shore businesses and speaking in solidarity with laid off workers, given his previous work in venture capital. Obama spoke of a stream of policy decisions that have made positive impacts, yet still has the "new normal" of the current economic funk to contend with.
There was a clearly apparent growing personal animosity between the two. The debate showed us a super rich shape-shifting Republican candidate (against 47%? for 100%?) trying to channel Reagan, and an at times disappointing regular rich Democratic President (drones? joblessness?) trying to channel one of the Roosevelts. Just like Biden and Ryan offered two versions of Catholicism, Obama and Romney offer visions based on two paths in American history.
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