According to most blogs, reports, and social media sites, Republican Presidential challenger, former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney was the clear winner of of the October 3rd Presidential debate with President Barack Obama. Romney engaged the President, while he looked down at his notes, and was a more forceful debater, while President Obama appeared less engaged.
Romney appeared confident, practiced, at ease and fluent in almost every topic thrown his way. He criticized the president’s record while also outlining, his own ideas about taxes and the deficit. The President on the other hand, his answers were slow, dry and cautious.
Both camps attempted to manage expectations by downplaying their respective candidate’s ability to debate, the days leading up to the event. However, the effectiveness of Obama’s 7-month campaign to define Mitt Romney as the out of touch, rich guy, turned out to be a double-edged sword for his campaign. The more Romney failed to sound like the out of touch rich guy, the more he defied the expectations of the general public.
Body language also played a major roll. Romney made it a point to always direct his attention towards Obama, even when Obama was speaking, whereas Obama often looked down at his notes with an occasional smirk whenever Romney was speaking. Romney appeared to be the aggressor while Obama played defense. To Obama’s credit, he did manage to effectively look directly into the camera on several occasions and connect with the American audience at home.
Romney was able to use an age-old tactic known far too well by anybody who’s ever been in any sort of relationship: get the last word. No matter who the first question was posed to, Romney made sure to get the last word, even if it meant disregarding moderator Jim Lehrer, who was bullied by Romney during the debate. And that is basically what Romney did throughout the entire evening, whether the moderator wanted to move on to a new topic or not, Romney got the “last word.” Romney even said that he would like to cut federal funding to PBS, which employ’s Lehrer.
Following the debate, Mitt Romney saw a 1-point bump in the polls from his Republican base, which prior to this debate, was concerned about his performance. However, it remains to be seen what effect, if any, this will have on independents and undecided voters. Unfortunately for Romney, the next Presidential debate on October 16 is on domestic policy and foreign policy, and the October 22 debate is exclusively on foreign policy, which is not only an area where Romney struggles but is also an area where President Obama excels.