Romney Out on Top in the First Debate

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By Dan Poskus

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Daniel Poskus on the first debate

The first presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney took place on Wednesday night. Romney and Obama discussed topics including health care, taxes, how to lower the deficit, and energy.

Both candidates walked out to the stage smiling. They shook hands and got ready to start attacking each other’s policies and views. Obama came out talking about the resilience of the country and how things are on the rise. Romney came out talking about how we need a “different path,” and how the current path isn’t working. He said big government and trickle down government will not work for America.

The rest of the debate went like that. Obama on defense while Romney was on offense. When Obama brought up something attacking Romney, he dodged it and put the focus back on things such as the rising deficit and unemployment. Romney was able to pull this off with ease. It was hard to watch Obama get slammed.

“Obamacare” was a popular subject and Romney drilled Obama on it. Romney drilled him saying how OC will take cuts from Medicare. How OC will mean families will have to pay $2,500 more. He also attacked the “death panels” that OC will put in place. He questioned why Obama has fought so hard for OC instead of creating more jobs. Whether or not these statements are true or not doesn’t take away from the fact that he made Obama look bad.

One thing I did notice is Romney distinctive lack of details about his plans. Obama tried to capitalize on this, but couldn’t pull it off well. Romney was vague about which loopholes he would close to lower the deficit, what he would replace OC with, and what his views are with using Dodd-Frank. Obama’s best quote of the night: “[We] don’t know the details…Will his plans benefit us too much?” That is a valid point. What does he have to lose in telling us what he will do? When the moderator asked Romney what he would replace Obama care with. He answered that it would be a “lengthy description.” Really, Romney? You can’t explain your amazing health care plan in a presidential debate? This would have been something for Obama to jump on, but he didn’t.

A lot of the debate was both of the candidates just going on about how important education is. That seemed to be focused on to much considering their views weren’t all that different.

Romney also went on about how his plans are “not like anything that has been tried before.” His plans are in fact very similar to plans in 2001 while under George Bush. Romney is no different from any other Republican. He will not make huge changes to the economy. Nothing will change. Things will only get worse. Obama said about Romney’s deficit plan that “It’s not possible to only find loopholes that only effect higher class without raising the deficient or burdening middle income. Its not possible. Its arithmetic.” It’s true. He can’t generate all the money from tax cuts by closing loopholes. Especially when Romney wont even say what these loopholes are.

The biggest joke of the night was the performance of Jim Lehrer of PBS.  He was steamrolled by both Obama and Romney. He did such a bad job that they lost a 1- minute segment because he couldn’t get them to stop talking.  At one point he told Romney “no, no, no…”. Romney ignored him.

Al Roker tweeted, “I hope Jim Lehrer gets the license plate of the truck that drove over him in this debate.” Ouch.

Conservative columnist John Podhoretz called Lehrer possibly “the worst moderator in the history of moderation.”  It wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t pretty either. The main problem is that his questions were so open ended that he couldn’t expect them to answer in 15 minutes. It was also his job to jump on Romney’s vagueness, but he didn’t do that either. Hopefully, the next moderator does better.

It will be very interesting to see if this debate affects the polls in swing states such as Florida and Virginia. Before the debate, Obama held the lead by several points in both states. And with Romney’s win, I wouldn’t be surprised if his lead decrease by a few points.

In the end, Romney did win. Even though Obama had better policies and ideas, Romney was the better debater.  He came out swinging and didn’t stop until he won. He drilled Obama and dodged attacks with ease. I think Obama underestimated Romney and was caught off guard. If Obama can shape up his debating skills, he has to win the next debate.