It was one of the most lopsided victories in presidential debate history. These reactions tell the entire story: “What was Romney doing? He was winning”, “Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter”, and “this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach.” Those quotes are from diehard Obama supporters Chris Matthew, Bill Maher and Andrew Sullivan.
This was exactly what Mitt Romney’s campaign needed. Just as President Obama was building a seemingly insurmountable lead in swing state polls, Romney delivered a stirring jolt to the race. Only one candidate on the stage looked presidential Wednesday night. It was not the current occupier of the Oval Office.
Romney was steadfast in his statements. He looked Obama in the eye and addressed him directly. He repeatedly rebutted Obama’s attacks and turned the president’s own words against him. Republicans have been practically begging the GOP contender to get more aggressive. Their wishes were answered Wednesday night.
The Obama campaign has spent months claiming Mitt Romney will raise taxes on the middle class. Romney not only called the president out on his lie, he made the case that the middle class has suffered under Obama’s policies and it is time for a change.
When Obama claimed Romney would cut funding to education, Romney again said the president had his facts wrong and slapped the president on the Solyndra failure: back that he has not plans to do so, then landed a resounding jab at the Solyndra failure. “You put $90 billion into green jobs…$90 billion. That would have hired two million teachers.”
Romney’s biggest weakness during the GOP primary and debates was Romneycare. However, those two dozen or so debates prepared the former Massachusetts governor very well for this moment. Barack Obama has not debated anyone in four years and has rarely been challenged by the media. It showed.
President Obama tried to exploit the healthcare issue as well, but Romney rebutted masterfully by invoking the Tenth Amendment and saying states, not the federal government, are better suited to make these types of decisions. Romney also scored with conservatives with his mentions of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence being the guides for all the decisions the federal government makes.
Four years ago, Barack Obama won based on the theme that he could unite the country. We now know that he was unable or unwilling to reach across the aisle and governed in a completely partisan manner. Gridlock remains in Washington. Romney scored again by mentioning he dealt with a legislature in Massachusetts that was 87 percent Democrats and on his first day after the election, he would sit down with the Democratic leaders. It was Mitt Romney, not Barack Obama, who appeared to be a uniter.
Meanwhile, President Obama looked like a misbehaving student who was being lectured by the principal. He seemed lethargic. He kept his head down most of the time while Romney was speaking. His answers were rambling and his defenses weak. Obama’s body language gave the appearance that he did not want to be there. The president lost on both style and substance.
Instant reaction garnered immediately after the debate bear that out. A CNN poll showed 67% believed Romney won the debate, compared to only 25% for Obama. A CBS poll of uncommitted voters showed Romney 46%, Obama 22% and 32% calling it a tie.
It is a clear consensus. Mitt Romney won the first debate. The GOP has regained the momentum in the race. Two more presidential, and one vice-presidential, debates remain. Barack Obama will come much better prepared next time. However, for now, the Republican Party is feeling reinvigorated.
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