PD EDITORIAL: Romney's rebound night
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:42 a.m.
The best that Mitt Romney could have hoped to achieve Wednesday night was to land a few zingers, keep the discussion centered on the nation's economic troubles and get President Barack Obama to implode in his first public debate in four years. And, in the process, he needed to appear confident and presidential.
To the surprise of many, including some of those in the Obama camp, the former Massachusetts governor got just about all of that in his first face-to-face encounter with the president.
Given that the presidential debate in Denver, the first of three, was focused on domestic policy, Romney needed little help in keeping the economy centerstage. He was effective in hammering away at key numbers such as the 23 million Americans whom he contends are out of work or have stopped looking for jobs, more than three years of unemployment in excess of 8 percent and rising health care and costs.
“Middle income families are being crushed,” he said.
He also had his share of zingers. When Obama criticized his Republican rival for defending corporate welfare including tax breaks for oil companies — “Does anybody think ExxonMobil needs some extra money when they're making money every time you go to the pump?” — Romney shot back noting the Obama administration's $90 billion subsidy of green energy companies such as the failed Solyndra. “I had a friend who said you don't just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers,” he said.
For his part, Obama appeared rusty. He got off to a slow and muddled start in defending his jobs and deficit-reduction plans, and he never seemed to regain the high ground or get comfortable.
Obama was at his best when he pointed out the confusion over Romney's plans for massive tax cuts and increased defense spending while somehow reducing the deficit. He noted how Romney's tax-cut plan has been tried before in reference to President George W. Bush-era decisions that ended with “a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me” when he assumed office. The president also was effective in underscoring Romney's lack of specifics for what he would do after dismantling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The president defended his signature legislative achievement, noting, “We've seen this model work very well — in Massachusetts.”
But Obama's first presidential debate may be remembered more for what he
This was clearly Romney's night. But in the end, he didn't get what he needed most — to have voters see the president implode. As a result, it's not clear how effective he was in winning over the roughly 4 percent to 6 percent of undecided voters still remaining.
What he did ensure, however, was something else that few would have expected going into Wednesday night — possibly better ratings for the next presidential debate on Oct. 16.
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