Thursday, October 4, 2012

Debate Deblogging

Wednesday night's debate, the main event:  Mitt Romney the challenger, President Barack Obama the incumbent.  Romney has to go three for three in these debates to have any shot of catching up in the swing states, but he had to have last night's debate to win.  Jim Lehrer of PBS News Hour the moderator, and here's my breakdown of the six segments of the debate, the questions all on domestic issues after the jump.

Question #1:  How do you create new jobs?

President Obama wins the coin toss and goes first.  He opens with a shoutout to the First Lady on today, their 20th anniversary.  He then goes into his job stump speech, a tad rusty on the opening.  Manufacturing jobs, energy, small businesses, balanced approach, top down vs economic patriotism.  Gets going.

Mitt gets in a ding on the romance on being at the debate for Obama's anniversary.  Mitt then goes into a story on a middle class worker.  He goes into his 5 points stump speech.  at least two lies so far.

Rebuttal to Obama on top-down economics.  Goes over his record on production of energy, deficit, tax code, framed against Romney's tax cuts for the rich.

Romney gets to respond, lies about his tax plan flat out.  Blames Obama for "doubling" gas prices and Obama sticking the middle class with "the economy tax".  Romney rambles on, but at least brings up his deduction limit.  THAT however will benefit the upper class.  Also, he likes Big Bird!

Obama responds directly on taxes.  Mentions he has cut taxes for the middle class.  Brings up the $5 trillion tax cut, $2 trillion in military spending.  Trashes Romney's loophole math.  Middle class would pay more.

Romney runs all over Jim Lehrer.  Calls Obama a liar, "Because I have 5 boys" and he recognizes a lie.

Obama gets in "it's math, it's arithmetic"  Notes once again that he has lowered taxes, Romney's just talked about them.  Says "Donald Trump is a small business."  Romney looks pissed.

Romney runs over Lehrer AGAIN.  Accuses Obama of destroying small business with taxation.  Brings up Bowles-Simpson.

Obama ends with THE MATH again.  "We've tried this."

Romney runs over Lehrer AGAIN.  DEMANDS the last word.  Repeats his statement.

Score:  Wash.  Both men looked nervous and shaky.

Question #2 to Romney:  How will you tackle the deficit?

Romney calls deficit a moral issues.   Says he'll cut PBS anyway.  Likes Big Bird.  Hits Obama for trillion dollar deficits.

Obama counters with the source of that deficit:  two wars, two tax cuts.  Nice.  Talks about his cuts to spending.

Lehrer's rebuttal is on Simpson-Bowles.  Romney says Obama should have "grabbed that."  Romney again going in on taxes.  "You raise taxes, you kill jobs."

Lehrer asks about revenue.  Obama counters with Romney refusing to raise revenue.  Romney agrees.  Obama getting comfortable.  "If there's no revenue, severe hardship for people."  Brings up oil subsidies, shifting Medicare to states would cut it by 30%.  Big punches here.

Romney responds on oil subsidies.  Claims green energy subsidies are 50 times oil subsidies.   Romney clearly flustered here on Medicare.  Rambles on about his stump speech, Lehrer stops him.

Score, Obama wins the point.  Romney broke apart at the end.

Question #3:  Entitlements.  (Ugh.)  What would you do to fix them, to Obama.   President Obama on a roll now.  Calls the programs "sound", explains how they helped his own grandmother.  Says entitlements are earned, not dependency.  Also a great answer.  We don't need major changes.

Romney specifies he won't make any changes to current programs.  Then says Obama will.  Doctors won't take Medicare patients.  Accuses Obama of cutting Medicare $716 billion.

President Obama counters with VOUCHERS.  Calls Romney out on the Ryan plan, cold, and points out it will absolutely hurt current Seniors because it will collapse traditional Medicare.  States he's fond of Obamacare, hits Romney on repealing Obamacare being a gift to insurance companies.

Romney completely dodges the voucher question.  Brings up people losing insurance, government telling people what health care they can have.  You know, like Medicare.

Obama coolly responds that the AARP likes Obamacare.

Lehrer gets run over again.  Finally restores order, brings up regulations.  Romney brings up Dodd-Frank as being a gift to big banks.  Probably not the best stuff here.  Runs over Lerher for the 5th time, Lehrer finally says "No, let's allow President Obama to speak."

Obama comes in swinging on Romney wanting to repeal Dodd-Frank.

Romney runs EVERYONE over.  Accuses the President of being too cozy with the banks.

Score:  Obama wins the point just on Mitt's mendacity.

Question #4:  To Romney, Why would you repeal Obamacare?

Romney replies with DEATH PANELS.  No, seriously.  Comes in with Obamacare as a government takeover.

Obama:  "We've seen this model work really well.  In Massachusetts."

Romney calls Massachusetts plan bipartisan, but Obamacare was partisan and awful.  Accuses the President of costing 20 million people insurance.

President Obama comes back with Obamacare being basically Republican ideas that Republicans refused to pass.  He then explains how Obamacare saves money by using Republican ideas.  Obama actually does a pretty good job here of pointing out the ideas and that repealing Obamacare would cost 50 million people insurance.

Romney goes on about the free market and death panels AGAIN.  Calls it a government takeover AGAIN.

President Obama sets the record straight on the board.  Explains Mitt Romney has no details on what he would replace the plan with, because he would replace the plans with Obamacare.

Romney runs over Lehrer again, #7.  To bring up Reagan.  Brings up that President Obama must have been studying up on Romney's plan.  ROmney apparently has not returned the favor.

Score:  Obama wins here easily.  Romney fading hard.

Question #5:  What is the role of government, to the President.

He responds that government provides for the common good and protects citizens, and gives opportunities.  Mentions Lincoln's land grant colleges.  Mentions teachers.  "Governor Romney doesn't believe we need more teachers.  I do."

Romney brings up...the Constitution.  Food stamps.  Tenth Amendment.  Mentions he won't cut teachers when actually he said he will.  Says the President has an airplane and is entitled.

Obama counters with Romney's lack of details.  "It seems to be a trend..."

Score: Obama got the win here too.

Both men then wrapped up with closing statements.  President Obama got in a brutal shot with "We need a President who can say no to his own party sometimes", which was a direct blow on Mitt Romney's little Tea Party problem.

My final score was Obama 5, Romney 1.  Your mileage may vary.  Yes, Mitt went on the attack, but he responded with a number of mistruths and outright lies.

If there's a loser, it was Jim Lehrer, who lost total control of the debate.  Sad, really.

Reaction to the debate this morning clearly favored Romney, even among folks whose opinions were somewhat more objective.

 Taegan Goddard of Political Wire faulted the President for missing some counterattack opportunities, something I mentioned in the podcast last night.

Overall, Romney was better prepared, stayed on message and was even more personable than the president. Obama missed a big chance tonight. While the fact checkers may ultimately side with the president in the end, Romney did a better job. His performance should calm many Republicans who have doubted him in recent weeks. 

Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight argued Romney narrowed the race.

My own instant reaction is that Mr. Romney may have done the equivalent of kick a field goal, perhaps not bringing the race to draw, but setting himself up in such a way that his comeback chances have improved by a material amount.

Ezra Klein at Wonkblog argued that the President got mired down in specifics, allowing Romney to remain on offense all night, but that the President set the trap again for more attack ads.

Mitt Romney won the debate tonight. He was more focused, specific, energetic and prepared than President Obama. The Obama campaign's silver lining was in what he Romney specific about. Expect, for instance, that Romney's admission that he will voucherize Medicare to make its way to ads in some swing states near you.

Ezra has the right of it here.  President Obama let Mitt walk into a number of traps, and Mitt gave some thorny specifics that the President's ad team will be able to hit back VERY hard this week.  Mitt got a short term victory.  But I think Obama will win the long term here.

What did you guys think?

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