The first debate is in the books and now all of us ‘Monday Morning Quarterbacks’ are recounting the evening’s events.
To be honest, it wasn’t the knockdown, drag out I had expected. The only one who was regularly trampled by the candidates was the moderator, Jim Lehrer, when he would try to bring things back into the given timeframe and question content.
I do give Mr. Lehrer high marks, however, for his questions and how he presented them to the candidates. The debate wasn’t what some had predicted of hard balls to Romney and softballs to Obama.
Both candidates were playing with the same type of ball and on the same playing field.
The debate was, however, like a well-played Ping-Pong game.
Each candidate was able to respond for two minutes to each other’s comments on the questions and their opponent’s responses to their statements. Since we never see Ping-Pong highlights on the evening sports report, we won’t go through things in that format, but we will catch the high points.
Jobs were the first topic out of the box. According to a CNN/ORC International poll (9/28/12-9/30/12) forty-six percent of those polled believe the economy is the most important issue facing the country. Jobs are a major part of that equation, so that was a logical place to begin.
Mr. Obama began his answer regarding “How would you go about creating new jobs” by leaning back on his response of four years and the state of the economy when he took office. This may be considered, in the end, his “track record” entering office with a bad economy. He touted 5 million jobs having been created during his tenure and that housing is back on the rise.
He believes the key to creating jobs is to invest in education, change the tax code and rebuild America’s economy by winding down wars.
In reference to taxes, Mr. Obama suggested lowering the manufacturing tax rate to 25% and creating tax breaks to businesses to keep jobs on American soil. He also made reference to having cut taxes to the point families have benefited by $3,600 a year, which allows them to buy a car or computer for their kids, which he believes, is helping the economy.
Obama responded to Romney’s plan by saying economists predict his plan will add a $2,000 additional burden to American families.
Overall, President Obama feels he and Governor Romney share similar ideas of supporting small businesses and families and believes we should consider going back to the tax rates of the Clinton Administration.
Mr. Romney approached the jobs question with a compassionate story of people approaching him in Ohio, unemployed and asking if he can help. A wife approached Mrs. Romney in Denver discussing her husband having lost four jobs in recent years and now the family has lost their home.
Governor Romney, obviously working on being more approachable by recounting these stories, looked straight into the camera and said, “We can help”.
Leading with the approach of putting the focus on others, showed a true contrast between the two candidates. Mr. Romney showed a more compassionate approach than the President, who still leaned on a “not responsible for this problem” attitude.
When addressing the “how” portion of the question, Mr. Romney went directly to his 5 point plan which he laid out the day he announced Paul Ryan as his running mate. America to become energy independent, make sure education is a priority, cracking down on China and other trade issues, balancing the budget and helping small businesses.
Mr. Romney refuted the Obama campaign’s claims that he will help out the rich. I appreciated Mr. Romney’s response when he said, “Upper income Americans will do well no matter who is President”.
This statement set Mr. Romney outside the new battle of class warfare.
As a contrast to President Obama suggesting the use of wind, solar and biofuels to help with jobs, Mr. Romney discussed the use of clean burning coal and tapping our natural resources in North America.
When responding to Mr. Obama’s comments that Mr. Romney’s tax plan would add $2,000 of additional burden to Americans, Romney gave a good swing at Obama by saying the Obama campaign keeps saying things (misrepresentations) and Romney replied he has 5 boys, he is used to someone continuing to tell him something and expecting him to eventually believe it.
Other questions presented by Mr. Lehrer were: The difference between the two candidates to tackle/reduce the country’s deficit; Entitlements-Did the candidates see a major difference in the two of them regarding Social Security; Regulations and the effects; Healthcare-Why repeal Obamacare.
Of course, inside all these questions numbers were tossed around and percentages shared in positive and negative lights.
Mr. Romney took the approach of the nation’s deficit as a moral question. He also said a good measurement of spending money on programs was whether we had to borrow from China to pay for the program.
Romney believes if we have to borrow from China, cut the program.
Sounds like what a lot of us do with our personal credit cards when we want to save money!
In relation to entitlements, President Obama said he thought the basic structure of Social Security is sound.
He recounted how his grandmother was able to be independent because of Social Security. He also said when she retired she was a Vice President of a bank.
Conversations also included regulation and the effects of Dodd/Frank on the banking industry, unelected boards being put in place with Obamacare to help decide medical treatments and how Governor Romney’s healthcare plan in Massachusetts is similar to Obamacare.
States’ rights and the need for each state to have the ability to make choices regarding healthcare for their citizens was discussed as well as “trickle down government”.
Zingers and one-liners were not as prominent as some have been in past debates. Things were said, however, since the audience wasn’t able to respond in any manner, sharp retorts weren’t as effective.
When making their closing remarks, President Obama commented he felt it was a good debate and again reclined on the crisis of 4 years ago. He wants to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules and has a fair shot.
Mr. Romney closed his comments saying this is an important election and he is concerned about America. He showed that both candidates’ paths lead in different directions and their records show the differences.
The approach and format was very good for the debate. The tone was civil. Toward the end of the debate, a few jabs were thrown, but on the whole, it was civil.
President Obama’s body language was odd for someone who appears to be confident in many other settings. He spent much of his time looking down. I understand he was making notes of what to say next, but he didn’t make strong eye contact with Mr. Romney, as I would have thought he would.
Mr. Romney however, had strong eye contact and appeared well prepared for the debate.
No one really ran away with the debate, but many political analysts from both sides of the coin agree, Mr. Romney won.
As a viewer, Mr. Romney won. Even if he didn’t layout every detail for how he would handle various situations, he still had new plans and new ideas.
In reviewing polling data, America believes Romney won.
As David Gergen said on CNN after the debate, “We have a horse race on our hands”.