EDITORIAL: Role reversal at debate
It’s safe to say Wednesday night’s presidential debate, the first of the 2012 general election campaign, wasn’t what most were expecting.
President Barack Obama, known for his quick-witted, sharp oratorial skills, came to Denver riding a wave of momentum, from comfortable polling numbers to the PR nightmare that was Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comment. Meanwhile, Romney, struggling to find an identity and opportunity to turn his campaign around, needed a home run of a night.
And boy did he come ready to play. From the start, Romney, using a slower pace of speech in an apparent effort to sound more serious, appeared more prepared and grounded than the president. He engaged, offered quick rebuttals — and often times went over his two-minute allotment meekly enforced by moderator Jim Lehrer.
Obama, for the first time in recent memory, looked uncomfortable on stage. And while Romney continued to hammer the president on the current state of the economy, using the unemployment and jobless figures as ammo, Obama appeared stunned. The president, considered by many to be thoughtful and engaging, was left stumbling over his words.
But it was Obama’s tepid response, or unwillingness to challenge the former Massachusetts governor on some of his claims, that made the final result even worse for the president. Some of Romney’s claims, chief among them his pledge he would not raise taxes to add to the deficit, were later assessed as half-truths or inaccuracies. But rather than call Romney out on them, he stood by like the new kid at school waiting for his chance to get in the game.
Maybe a better way to put it is that Romney didn’t fully win the debate, but Obama certainly lost it.
It’s hard to tell where this election will go and, with about a month, left there will be twists and turns. But if Obama continues to look as weak as he did during Wednesday’s debate, it could mean a lame duck period is awaiting Obama.
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