Anyone who has followed my columns here at Mason Votes have seen that I’m not above criticizing Mitt Romney when needed. I try to be as fair as I can while holding my views. That being said, I think Mitt Romney won the first Presidential debate of 2012, and it wasn’t close.
There were no big zingers or pre-prepared moments by either man. There was just a clash of ideas and records. Romney looked engaged, energetic and in command. Every time he attacked the President, he stared him down and said, “YOU raise taxes and YOU kill jobs.” In short, it looked like he wanted to be there and was ready to fight.
President Obama, on the other hand, was the opposite. Many times he’s been criticized for being detached and ‘above it all’. That seemed like how he was acting on stage. He seemed like he did not want to be there. He had his talking points, as did Romney. But the difference was when the President attacked Gov. Romney he rebutted the Obama effectively. When Romney attacked Obama, he seemed to have no Plan B or second rebuttal to return fire. He went back to the well over and over again. The result didn’t change. Time and time again Romney would block Obama’s argument and the President would follow with either a subject change or just a reiteration of his original point. It seemed he had no response to Romney’s attacks.
Romney effectively rebuffed Obama’s charge that somehow he’d raise taxes on anybody, much less the middle class by invoking his sons. Obama kept making the claim even though Romney kept saying it wasn’t true. Near the end, Romney even quipped, “Mr. President, your entitled to your own plane and your own house, but not your own facts.” Also at points, Obama was making the case for his plan but using Bill Clinton’s Presidency as a defense. But again, Romney reminded debate watchers that it was Obama’s plan, now four years old, that’s caused our current state of affairs. “You’ve been President for four years,” Romney kept reminding us.
The issue of healthcare was also a major topic. The President actually said he’s grown “fond” of the term Obamacare. Romney ravaged Obamacare on it’s Medicare cuts and the advisory panels all while defending his own plan in Massachusetts as being acceptable because it was done at the state level. Obama attempted to defend the law by citing positive aspects like covering preexisting conditions and allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plan. Again though, when Romney retorted saying those parts are in his plan too, Obama seemed dumfounded. He even used a private clinic in Ohio to defend the government centered plan. The President just seemed unable to defend his record while also being unable to effectively land any punches on Romney’s plans.
You may chalk up the Romney debate win to a challenger’s momentum or Romney’s vast debating experience. You could even say Obama may have been rusty. All of these excuses may or may not have been a factor. Regardless, this was the first clash of ideas from the two men vying for the Oval Office and on this night it was Mitt Romney that looked like he wanted it and was willing to fight for it. Barack Obama seemed unsteady, aloof, and disconnected from not only the debate but from America’s problems, for which he does not have a sufficient plan to fix.
*The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.