Romney vs. Obama: Colorado

On style, Mitt Romney ran away with the debate. President Obama barely showed up, and seemed to be completely disengaged and bristly. Romney denied and attacked consistently and constantly, and Obama sort of repeated himself and backed off of capitalizing on huge entrees. 

Then again, debates don’t win elections – zingers and good performance don’t win debates. Dan Quayle defeated Lloyd Bentsen, you guys. George W. Bush was one of the least articulate candidates in history, with a superficial grasp of issues and he defeated Al Gore and John Kerry. 

But here’s the thing – Obama is weakest on the economy. This performance may have been a strategic choice. After all, we still don’t know how Romney will pay for his tax plan, do we? We still don’t know the details of what he’d replace Obamacare with. We don’t know how he’s going to get insurers to cover pre-existing conditions without Obamacare/Romneycare’s promise of more customers through a mandate. 

Instead, Romney started in with death panels again, and Obama meekly defended the Affordable Care Act’s advisory groups that would streamline care and make it more efficient for patients. Instead, Romney repeated the “take $716 BN from Medicare” lie. 

The Republicans are demonizing efficiency and cost-cutting. 

When Romney somehow tries to claim that Obamacare differs from Romneycare, he’s lying. When your lie is caught and you then devolve to a state’s rights argument – why should people in Iowa have worse access to care than people in Massachusetts?  If health insurance universality is worth doing, it’s worth doing universally. Obama’s failure was in not confronting Romney on his blatant lies

“I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of the scale you’re talking about. I think we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I won’t reduce the share of tax paid by high-income people. … I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce revenues going to the government. My number one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that no tax cut that will add to the deficit.”

So who’s right?

Romney has run for months on a plan to lower everyone’s tax rates by 20 percent — an amount that independent analysts have concluded will reduce revenues by $5 trillion over 10 years.

Romney has also insisted that his plan will be deficit neutral and that it won’t increase taxes on the middle class. But according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center and other analysts, Romney won’t be able to make good on both of those latter promises.

According to TPC, even if Romney closes all loopholes and deductions for high-income earners, that alone will not account for all the revenue he loses because of the rate cut. Thus, to make the overall plan deficit neutral he’d have to raise the tax burden on middle income Americans.

If Obama had the attack line on deck, responding to the lying denial should have been ready to go in the dugout. It never came to the plate. Obama got a few good lines in, delivered sleepily. Obama asked whether Romney was “keeping the details of his plan secret because they’re too good?” Under Obamacare, insurers will no longer get to “jerk you around”.  On substance, Romney seemed to pretend that the world began in 2008, and Obama did practically nothing to disabuse him of that notion. 

Obama said, “budgets reflect choices. If we ask for no revenue, we have to get rid of a lot of stuff…severe hardship for people, and  no growth.”  It was too wonky by half. The poor economy is most people’s central issue. Selling the successes and benefits of health insurance reform is critically important. Obama whiffed on all of them. He didn’t strongly defend his administration’s record, he didn’t strongly enough rebut Romney’s lies and promises, and he simply sleep-walked through the thing. 

On a side note – Jim Lehrer also barely showed up. I have never seen a less structured debate or a less forceful moderator. At times, he was simply trying to get a word in edgewise, saying, “um…hey….guys”. Perhaps someone slipped something in Obama’s and Lehrer’s drinks. 

Twice, Romney claimed that Obama wanted “trickle-down government”. Along with his tax claims and his health care obfuscation, I suspect that this is a line that will come back to haunt him.

It’s easy to be confident and outperform your debate opponent when you’re lying. Romney tried to remake himself last night as a champion for the middle class – this is the same guy who opposed the auto bailouts and denigrates 47% of the population as victim moochers. Time will tell how this will play out, but debates aren’t game-changers.  Coming up: 

Thursday, October 11 – Vice Presidential Debate

Tuesday, October 16 – Second Presidential Debate (Town Hall)

Monday, October 22 – Third Presidential Debate

17 comments

  • “Obama is weakest on the economy”
    Now -there’s- an understatement…

  • The President’s advisors must have stressed for him to appear “presidential.” But that shouldn’t have been a pass to Romney to let misrepresentations about the $816 billion out of Medicare go unchallenged. Not to pinning the Governor down down on his elusive maneuvering around the question of how he’ll fund  more defense spending and more tax cuts, regardless of what taxpayer class benefits would have been a salve Obama’s Achille’s heel on the economy.

  • This article has such a bias  Romney was clearly more in touch with the real concerns of people and Obama has no idea about how to get us out of the hole he put us in.  AND I voted for Obama last time and am a registered Democrat who is fed up with the debt this President is accumulating.  I will not vote for him again

    • Romney “was clearly more in touch”, that’s funny because it is so ridiculous, Romney hasn’t got a clue about the “real concerns of people”.  He has demonstrated that again and again, one night of being on guard doesn’t change that reality. As for the “hole he put us in”, the fact is that hole was dug by Bush and the Republicans, not President Obama. On the debt, again the fact is the largest driver of our debt has been and continues to be the Bush Tax Cuts and two unfunded wars.

      •  just like the president, repeat it often enough maybe people will believe it.
        Its all Bush’s fault , its all Bush’s fault.
        Its just as much the democrats fault and republicans, both of them in the pockets of the lobbyist.  At least Romney understands economics.
        as for the debt, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
        The less to government does to us the better off we will be.

        • It was indeed Bush and the Republicans that led the way to our economic collapse, not my opinion but fact. Yes some foolish Democrats played along but tax cuts for the wealthy, unfunded wars, and deregulation all are Republican idea’s and they deserve all the credit for the result. As for debt, we should stop digging, by allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire since they alone are the largest driver of our debt. On Romney understanding economics, problem is he only understands how to exploit the system for personal gain, not how to grow an economy from the bottom up.
          Finally, this nonsense about less government is just tiring, government provides average citizens some level of protection from the greed and corruption of the private sector. Those that hate government hate America and are not in any way patriots.

          • Please explain why President Obama failed to pass a budget during his first two years in office and keep in mind that both the house and Senate were Democratic at the time?  How do you not overspend when you don’t even produce a budget.  It’s how to run a responsible Household 101.   I’ll let you in on another little secret fact that some of you Democrats have a problem with …There was no surplus in the Clinton years!!!  It was a “Projected Surplus” based on everything running status quo for another ten years but all of that stopped on 9/11/01, but there was NEVER a year during the Clinton Administration where revenue exceeded expenditures.

          • Presidents don’t pass budgets. They sign them. Read the Constitution. It’s in there. 

          • Yeah Kevin, get it right!!  Signing not passing!!  *trolololol*

        •  BNA: If that’s the case, then don’t depend on the police to bail you out if there’s a problem at your house. Likewise, don’t call the fire department if your home goes up in flames. Do it yourself! Take care of the problem and don’t rely on the big, bad government!

          And, while you’re at it, don’t bother driving on ANY roads…because the EEEEVIL government maintains them!

          I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point.

      • The real issue is that in 1997 Clinton mandated that the banks loosen up the credit standards to give people on the cusp of qualification a chance to buy houses. He also changed the rules related to not taxing capital gains when selling a  house and recognizing a 500K gain or less. In March of  2000 the dot com bubble burst and the free internet money went away. The housing market started to correct along with the stock market and we were entering a mild recession. The 9/11 happened and our world changed.  They dropped interest rates to get people spending again and that resulted in cheep money for housing investors,  people who should not have qualified to buy one home owned 2 or 3 “investment properties” and the banks sold the paper again and again.  The party ended in 2008.  Obama is only guilty of piling on debt by encouraging the fed to do QE1- Qe2 and now 40 billion a month in QE3.  Also he did not get out of the war fast enough instead following the Bush exit strategy.  I am not voting for Obama again! We need someone who will work with both sides of the house to get things done.

  • Obama meekly allowed Romney to have the first and last word on every discussion last night.  Worse yet, when Mitt was giving the last word on any topic and rebutting Obama’s long-winded explanations, Obama typically looked down and nodded as if agreeing with everything said.

    I agree that debates do not typically turn elections around.  But in the Twitter age, the beating Romney handed Obama is going to tighten up the polls.  Pathetic performance by the President.

  • George_Jefferson

    As Bill Maher so correctly noted last night, and Mike Barnacle brought up on “Morning Joe” this morning, the President appeared to miss his teleprompter.

  • I didn’t realize, until last night, that we had two Democrats running for president.

  • I have to ask why the heck the Buffalo News has “DEMOCRATS’ REACTION” with comments from G. Steven Pigeon and Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes on the front page?  This site sure points out Pigeon’s Republican deal-making, and it is no secret that Peoples-Stokes bought into the Collins’ coalition from a few years back. She also openly worked for Chris Jacobs for county clerk.  Is the News getting lazy?  These two should never speak for Democrats, which they are in name only.  Just saying.

  • “It’s easy to be confident and outperform your debate opponent when you’re lying. ”
    Not true!  Obama was lying and it didn’t help his confidence…

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