The Second Presidential Debate

I decided to live-tweet this one; you can find my tweets here. The president certainly did better in this debate than he did in the first disastrous one, but Romney pretty much held his own, and likely continues to be seen as an acceptable alternative to Barack Obama. I thought that the debate was a functional draw, since the president didn’t make Romney look unacceptable as a potential replacement, and since Romney held his own and kept it close–certainly closer than Barack Obama managed to keep it in the first debate. Ron Fournier agreesCNN has the president as having won the debate, but the margin of victory is within the margin of error, which is certainly worth noting.

Romney’s strongest points came when he recounted the failed policies and broken promises of the Obama administration, and their consequences. His weakest points came when he complained about the rules and the process of the debate. The president was determined to have more energy and to call Romney a liar at every opportunity, but failed to present any kind of vision whatsoever for how a second Obama term might be better than the first one.

The president also botched the question of why extra security was not provided to the consulate in Benghazi–despite the specific request for more security. Romney should have pounced on the point that the president never explained why extra security wasn’t added, and didn’t even address the question of why it wasn’t added. Instead, he veered off into other matters. Lots of chatter on the Internet about how Romney supposedly misrepresented the president on whether Barack Obama called the attack an act of terror, but Candy Crowley later was forced to admit that Romney was generally right on the facts. She might have added that it was completely disingenuous for the president to claim that his administration thought the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack from the outset; it took weeks before the administration finally admitted that the attack was premeditated (I don’t know how one claims that an attack is a terrorist operation while at the same time claiming that it wasn’t premeditated), and that it had nothing to do with a YouTube video. Crowley should have hit the president on those points, as the repeated insistence on the part of the administration that the attack wasn’t premeditated and was related to the video was entirely misleading.

I was surprised–as my tweets show–that the president did not bring up the “47%” line until the very end. Obamaphiles say that it was “devastating” when he did bring it up, but CNN showed that viewer dials plummeted when he finally trotted out the line. And even though Romney wasn’t allowed to respond at the end, he anticipated and blunted the attack when he answered before the president did.

Jay Cost makes a good point:

. . . These debates provide mostly an upside for Romney, and mostly a downside for Obama — insofar as Romney has an opportunity to look like a credible alternative to the president of the United States by standing on stage with him as an equal. This is why I am uninterested in who wins on points. Once again, Romney looked like a credible alternative to Obama, even if the latter may have landed more technical blows. Romney was especially effective at seeming empathetic, personally qualified, and focused on getting the economy going.

Obama v. 2.0 certainly beat Obama v. 1.0 going away. But Romney hung in effectively against Obama v. 2.0. I don’t think that the people who view Romney as a potential president were given any compelling reason to change their minds.

  1. Instugator

    I think Mitt’s focus wasn’t as there in this debate compared to the first – perhaps it was the result of Pres. Obama calling him a liar whenever PO stood up to answer. Nonetheless – I am in the Romney won camp – however I will freely admit that I just cannot stand to hear PO talk anymore.

    Luntz’s focus group discussion (consisting of ‘undecided voters’) on FNC following the debate was devastating.

  2. liberal jim

    On Benghazi :  Instead of the GOP now arguing about what O meant by his statement on 9/12 they need to take his word that he was calling the attack a terrorist attack.  O has finally lied himself into a corner.  If he called it a terrorist attack, this means he knew it was.  If he knew it was, sending Rice and others out to say it was a spontaneous event is a cover up.  Terror attacks are not spontaneous events. 

    Rice is now saying she was briefed by intelligence officials and SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS and that what she said was a product of those briefings. 

    The GOP needs to use the same tactic that O uses on Romney’s taxes.  Say this is a cover up and demand O prove it is not by releasing the names of the officials and allowing Rice to testify under oath.

  3. Capt. Aubrey

    As furious as I am over Benghazi because it is the perfect metaphor for his ”leading from behind” and “appologize first” policies it seems unlikely to me that Romney’s response or lack thereof is going to win the handfull of soccer moms in Ohio that the whole thing is supposed to depend upon.

  4. Steve C.
    Instugator: I think Mitt’s focus wasn’t as there in this debate compared to the first – perhaps it was the result of Pres. Obama calling him a liar whenever PO stood up to answer. Nonetheless – I am in the Romney won camp – however I will freely admit that I just cannot stand to hear PO talk anymore.

    Luntz’s focus group discussion (consisting of ‘undecided voters’) on FNC following the debate was devastating. · 45 minutes ago

    a lady in the focus group used the word religiosity. Undecided? I think not.

  5. Mel Foil

    Q: Mr. President, how would you accomplish in the next four years the economic recovery that you couldn’t accomplish in these past three-plus years?

    -

    A: Well, my plan is, I inherited the worst economy ever, I saved Detroit, I killed Bin Laden, and Mitt Romney only cares about the rich.

  6. At The Rubicon

    This was a 3-on-1 fight and Mitt did not give ground.  I’d say that makes Mitt the winner.

    - The audience questions were slanted towards Obama (Breitbart is reporting twive as many anti-ROmney questions as anti-Obama questions).

    - Not mush more needs to be said for the Moderator

    - And then there was Teh Wan himself.

    All three ganged up on Mitt last night and he held his own. 

  7. Tangled Up In Blue

    Liberal Jim is right, and I saw others making the same point last night on Twitter: The line Obama was spinning — that he called it a terror attack the day after — is more devastating to him, since it suggests that the later denials or refusals to comment were simply lies. He knew what it was and wouldn’t tell the American people the truth.

  8. Trink

    This in VDH’s comment section:

    Monsieur_Voltaire Thank you for a dose of reality, Dr. Hanson. I can’t believe that anyone who watched the debate would call it for Obama on points. What I saw in Obama was a petty little man, in his full community-organizer mode, frowning, lying, fudging, dropping g’s, insinuating, obfuscating and attacking with nothing of substance. Oh, and did I mention lying? Lied on Libya, lied on oil, lied on Romney’s plan, lied on his own mother, lied on everything he could lie on. Meanwhile, Romney was presidential, beaming, positive, had tons of verifiable specifics, and even when he momentarily lost his cool, he did so against the lying Chicago hack we have the misfortune of calling our president.”

    Bingo.

  9. Nick Stuart
    As a voter enamored just nominally Of the governor, Willard Mitt Romney   We can’t stand the trauma   Of more years of Obama I’ll be voting for Mitt a.s.a.p
  10. Atavist

    Mitt Romney is too much of a gentleman to deal with the Chicago Way, he needed to tell the President to his face that a career dedicated solely to politics has rendered one Barack H. Obama wholly unsuitable for the office he holds and without the professional experience to offer an opinion on any matter of consequence to the Republic. Like John McCain before him, Candidate Romney failed to land this rhetorical blow, and as they say in boxing, you have to knock out the champion.

  11. Red Feline

    Romney once again won the debate. He was polite, intelligent, knowledgeable, made his points slowly and clearly, almost in words of one syllable, so that no one could misunderstand what he said. He declared loudly, and carefully, that he knew how to fix the economy. His record shows that he has done it before as Governor of Michigan. He was dignified in the face of attack. He looked every inch a President. Did you notice that one of the questioners called him Mr. President? Precognitive? 

    Obama came across as a pitiful, little brawler, rude to the point of making me query where does he come from? He interrupted Romney, hogged the time, and put words into Romney’s mouth, immediately after Romney had stated his position, making him out to be a liar. What a disgusting display of bad manners. He would be thrown off any good debating team.

    Candy Crowley has become Candy Crawley to me. She was almost fawning on Obama, and allowed him to interrupt, hog the time, and gave Obama three more minutes than Romney. Her bias was obvious. 

    The debate was an embarrassing, distasteful attack on Romney. 

  12. Umbra Fractus

    Responding to almost literally everything Romney and/or Ryan says with, “That’s not true,” is going to backfire. If you say it once or twice people might listen, but after the fourth or fifth use in the same debate, it just comes across as a child stamping its feet yelling, “NO!”

  13. Cutlass

    Politico reports that the “undecided” woman who asked Romney about how he would differ from Bush has - drum roll please! - made up her mind to vote for … Obama! Apparently her vote is essentially a tantrum against Romney for not immediately answering her question (forget that he did provide her with a direct and specific response):

    “I was disappointed that the governor chose to first rebut what the president had been saying prior to my question being addressed to him,” Katz said. “That seems to be his style. I found that disappointing. I thought the governor did a good job of laying out some ways he would function differently than President Bush had. Basically, throughout the night, I found it disconcerting that the governor needed to control things. That was a problem for me, and that was evident in the way he first answered my question.”

    So, Romney is the one with control issues?

  14. Bruce in Marin

    I think Romney won the debate, and would have won more convincingly if he hadn’t muffed the Libya question.  But the point isn’t to win debates, it’s to win the election.  Jay Cost has it exactly right: Romney gains by showing himself to be a credible alternative to our formerly promising president.  Obama’s campaign relies wholly on discrediting Romney, and he has failed.

    The internals on the CNN snap poll were startling.  Does anybody actually believe that a group that thinks Romney is better on the economy by a 2-1 margin is going to vote to re-elect Obama?

  15. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    “The internals on the CNN snap poll were startling.  Does anybody actually believe that a group that thinks Romney is better on the economy by a 2-1 margin is going to vote to re-elect Obama?”

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