An interesting debate — despite the odd, phony start in which the candidates talked about the President’s anniversary, and the somewhat flaccid closing statements — in which the moderator lost control almost immediately, and some good points were made by both candidates. On balance, I think Mitt Romney bested President Obama.
I think it helped Romney to be on the same stage as the President. It helped to legitimize Romney, and made the efforts by the Democrats to depict him as some wealthy nut seem silly. The President treated Romney with respect, and treated his proposals as serious; at times he even nodded at points Romney was making. I think that has to help Romney seem viable. The President, on the other hand, seemed to filibuster and seemed distracted by a desire to get the full spread of talking points into his answers; that approach made some of his answers seemed disconnected.
Romney started off on the defensive on his tax plan, as the President pressed him on specifics, but Romney got his bearings. I thought he seemed knowledgeable, and gave some great answers along the way. His answer about the role of government, and his references to the Constitution, were just terrific, as was his answer about working with Democrats in Massachusetts to get things done and his answer about why he thinks “Obamacare” is not the right policy notwithstanding Romney’s approval of a Massachusetts health care plan. The President talked a lot more than Mitt Romney did — but did he make wise use of his time?
Those are my thoughts, without listening to any pundits or spinmeisters. Now, we’ll see what the American people think, as the points discussed in the debate sink in, and people talk about the candidates and their presentations over the kitchen table and the water cooler. I’d be interested in hearing what the other Webner House contributors think.