Reflections on the debate

The reverberations are still going on after the Wednesday debate. The theme coming from the Obama campaign is that Romney did not tell the truth about his policies. Most of the discussion on the non-campaign left is like Bill Mahers’ who said “It looks like he took my million and spent it all on weed.”

One of the most peculiar reactions was at the U of Wisconsin the next day. Hundreds of UW students were filing into an Obama on-campus campaign rally and were asked by a Breitbart writer if it was unfair that Obama couldn’t use his Teleprompter in the debate. Amazingly, most of the students agreed. What would a Teleprompter do ? Would they stop the debate for a few minutes while Obama’s handlers thought of a good response?

The polls will take a few more days to show the response but already something is going on. A poll of Illinois’ 10th Congressional district last August was ignored but another poll now suggests that Illinois might be in play in this election.

There is a new poll out of Cook county that should make President Obama, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, and the rest of the Obama reelection team nervous. In Illinois’ most populous and most Democratic county things are not looking so good for team Obama. In Cook county, home of Chicago, Obama only leads Mitt Romney 49 to 37. This is bad for Obama because he needs as big of a lead as he can get from Chicago Democrats in order to hold off the fact that he will lose the rest of the state, and in some areas of Illinois by a lot. Things are so bad for President Obama in Cook county that the suburban areas are breaking for Romney 45-38(the City of Chicago still goes to Obama 60-29).

California is still deep blue but gas is hitting $6/ gallon and expected to keep rising. That will hit the Obama voters more than anything else. Romney should keep pounding on the XL pipeline and domestic energy.

The next debate is supposed to be on foreign policy and it is interesting to speculate on what Obama will do to recoup his loss this week. First debates have been weak for previous presidents. Reagan was criticized for looking old and a bit out of touch in his first debate with Mondale.

Still, there have been a long line of incumbent presidents who bombed their first debate.

Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton and Bush all had middling to bad receptions after the first debate as an incumbent seeking re-election.

Advice for Obama will be plentiful next time.

If Obama wants to seal this election win from behind a podium, the ball is in his court alone. He’s got to recover and rebound in the next debate.

Still, Obama needs to get a Red Bull into his system for next time, because former incumbents with a bad second debate — Ford, H.W. Bush, and Carter come to mind — don’t tend to get their second term.

I expect him to try to be more aggressive. Foreign policy is not a good area for him but, no doubt, we will hear about Osama bin Laden and Romney’s inexperience. He runs a risk of further weakening the traditional Democrat support from Jewish voters (See above about Illinois) if they get into the Israel and Iran situations. Romney has to avoid looking as though he wants war with Iran and I expect Obama to bring this up. Still, Romney has good points about the failure of Obama to support the people of Iran when they were demonstrating against their own government, and the disclosures about intelligence that came from the White House.

The second debate is Romney’s chance to close the deal and how he conducts himself will be critical. So far he and his campaign have done a very good job. I was not one who complained that he was not aggressive enough. Charles Krauthammer thinks he should have given a foreign policy speech sooner, after Benghazi, and maybe that is right but he plans one Monday and the tide seems to be turning right now. I hope Romney avoids anything that looks like doubling down on Afghanistan. That is a loser and I think we need to get out. In fact, I think we need to get out of Pakistan and tilt toward India.

I’ll bet the audience for the VP debate this week will be larger than usual as Paul Ryan makes his national appearance for those who haven’t been following the election closely until now. I expect he will do very well. Biden is an old school politician but he lied his way through the debate with Sarah Palin and she did not point them out. Ryan is another numbers guy, like Romney, and won’t let him get away with it.

On to the next debate

8 thoughts on “Reflections on the debate”

  1. Actually, Michael, the next Presidential “Debate” will be “townhall” style on October 16 at Hofstra. CNN’s Candy Crowley will moderate, but questions will come from the audience of supposedly undecided voters. The townhall’s topics will be both domestic and foreign policy issues. The foreign policy debate will be on October 22 in Florida.

    Some Dems are hoping Biden will give them a lift in his debate with Ryan this Thursday at Center College in Kentucky. Dream on McDuff!

  2. I think Ryan will decimate Biden but then I have been wrong before. I do believe that this bloodfest that was the Republican primary ended up steeling Romney. Obama has been filtered by the MSM for so long that to see him by himself – without teleprompter – was interesting. I thought he was more or less like a pinata.

    Back to Ryan – I respect the guy for coming out with a plan to reduce the deficit. Every politico knows that to actually come up with ideas and specifics brings out the long knives.

    So he is used to taking criticism and I think this too – like Romney – will benefit him.

    Personally I can’t see how anyone – who isn’t bought by some Federal program – or a “free” phone – could possibly be for Obama.

  3. The good news is that intrade, which was close to 80% for Obama’s re-election, is now down to 65%.

    The bad news is that it is still 65%

  4. It’s been fascinating to watch the true believers sputter and stammer as they try to comprehend, and explain, why their annointed one took such a prat fall in the debate.

    If it wasn’t for the very real threat of a violent reaction to a loss for the current regime in November by the more rabid fans, the coming collapse of this whole fairy tale would be the best show in town.

    The day they’re out on their ears can’t come soon enough.

  5. Scotus, you’re right about the next debate although there was mention that foreign policy was permitted in the “next two debates.” I suppose someone could ask such a question. I wonder if the Obama campaign will flood the audience with phoneys, like the “gay general” who complained about DADT in 2008. I wondered what he had to complain about having retired a general.

  6. Just as it is impossible to have a moderator who comes from anything more conservative than ABC-NBC-CBS; you can be sure that the town hall audience will be liberally [no pun intended] salted with Chris Matthews devotees, and not one conservative will be there. Purely by chance, of course.

    The only thing “undecided” about the audience will be whether they love Obama, Trotsky, or Osama more.

    Subotai Bahadur

  7. MK—you really have to wonder if the audience and questioners will be pre-selected, coached, and stuffed into every chair the current regime can co-opt?

    I will be surprised if it doesn’t come out in 16 different ways that every imaginable trick of chicago politics is being used on a daily basis.

    The only things that probably won’t show up are the numerous corpses that seem to be resurrected for chi town elections on a regular basis.

    Which doesn’t mean that there won’t be plenty of “stiffs” in the audience, each with his or her pre-written question card, to be asked with as much rehearsed pathos or indignation as possible.

  8. I just spent a few days watching PBS. One new talking point, e.g. from Mark Shields after the debate and Dan Balz et al on Washington Week in Review, is that of course the President, having been away from the campaign trail for a few years, can’t be expected to be well practiced in responding to harsh questions. I was surprised that these people didn’t realize how bad this idea makes the media look.

    There was also a Q&A session with a group of “undecided” voters. There were four or five people who were out of it to varying degrees and one woman with strong opinions who was given a lot of time to talk. She was identified as a retired teacher and appeared to be a partisan Democrat. I suspect she was a ringer. I should have googled her name.

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