Predictably Obama was very aggressive tonight. Less predictably perhaps, Romney was just as aggressive. Here are some thoughts:
1. Wired Obama-Obama came loaded with talking points and spoke rapidly throughout the debate to get them all out.
2. Face Time-Classic political theater with Obama and Romney having a few face to face clashes during the debate.
3. Crowley Hearts Obama-Candy Crowley attempted to come to the rescue of the President in misstating that Obama blamed the Benghazi attack on terrorism in his rose garden statement. That is incorrect. The operative phrase in Obama’s statement: Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. Crowley’s intervention indicated that she was not a moderator but rather an Obama partisan.
4. Romney the Good-Romney gave another good debate performance and I expect he will do just as well in the third debate. If Obama is hoping for Romney to stumble or commit a gaffe, I think he will wait in vain.
5. Boxing match-Although the back and forth got a bit tiresome to me after a while, I did like the way in which both candidates talked directly at each other. Romney did make the mistake of asking too many questions of Obama, as if he were going to get any forthright answers.
6. Confusing-The fast pace of the debate may have come across as confusing to voters who do not follow politics and issues as obsessively as political junkies do.
7. Face Discipline-Romney exercised strict control of his features while Obama was speaking. Obama was not at Biden’s manic level, but he could not keep fairly frequent looks of disdain from his face while Romney was talking. Likeability has been Obama’s electoral life rope and I think that probably took a few hits tonight.
8. Times are Tough- One of Romney’s themes throughout the debate was how bad the economy is and how he would put America back to work. Obama tried to have it both ways: we’ve done a good job but times are tough because of the mess I inherited from Bush. After four years I think blaming Bush is a losing strategy.
9. Luntz Undecideds Decide-Frank Luntz had his usual panel of undecideds watching the debate. The vast majority of them voted for Obama in 2008. After they watched the debate tonight, the vast majority had swung behind Romney.
10. Draw-I suspect that the debate will be viewed as a draw and that is very bad news for Obama. He needed an overwhelming victory tonight and he didn’t get it. Romney is ahead and I do not think this debate will alter that fact.