The Denver debate. I wasn’t impressed with the debate structure, moderation or candidate performances. Some quick takeaways:
- I was generally bored. How much did we really learn? If I was bored, I can’t imagine what non-political junkies thought.
- Mitt Romney was all over the place during the first half of the debate. (Update: it was mentioned to me that this was by design, I agree). He was nervous. He seemed to be trying to cram in all of his taking points, and he seemed over-prepared. He turned the corner on that with the exchange on entitlement spending and finished the debate strong. He was definitely more aggressive than Obama. His “trickle-down” comment was, in my opinion, his most memorable – “The president has a view very similar to the view he had when he ran four years ago, that a bigger government, spending more, taxing more, regulating more — if you will, trickle-down government — would work. That’s not the right answer for America.” If this were a boxing match Romney landed more punches. Also, "Mr. President you’re entitled to your own house, your own airplane, but not your own facts." Zing!
- President Barack Obama seemed to be unable to maintain eye contact with Romney and had a smirk when listening to Romney that I’m not sure will be received well by undecideds. He was subdued, and not sharp. You can tell it has been four years since his last debate.
- It took President Obama a full half hour before he reached for the Blame Bush card. I was shocked by his restraint.
- Did anybody else have a hard time not laughing when President Obama tried to talk about how he was going to cut the deficit?
- Romney clearly won on substance – in particular when discussing taxes, entitlement spending, education and the role of the federal government. Romney was hedged in with the discussion on health care reform. RomneyCare = ObamaCare. Those of us who didn’t support Romney knew that would be coming. That said he did bring up some key distinctions.
- President Obama’s answer on the role of the federal government was weak and I find it amusing that the “Constitutional law professor” didn’t actually bring up the Constitution.
- When Romney was able to focus on jobs and the economy he knocked it out of the park.
- President Obama’s explanation of the independent commission (aka “Death Panels) wasn’t convincing.
- While Romney was substantive, at times he seemed overly wonky. I was fine with it, but I’m not sure how well that goes over with undecideds.
What did you think? Who do you believe won the debate and why?
Update: We’re now getting a handle of how undecideds viewed the debate. A Romney win. CBS post-debate poll shows undecided voters believed Romney won the debate 46% to 22% who believed President Obama won. 32% believed it to be a tie.
2nd Update: Breaking – CNN/ORC poll: 67% of those responding said Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate; 25% said President Obama won.
3rd Update: Chris Matthews lost that thrill up his leg: