While Mitt Romney was perhaps the more animated one last night (a shot of caffeine before going on TV will do that), on substance, the pundits are increasingly finding that the President won. If only because Romney lied, a lot.
Here’s a look at some of the rulings.
“Romney sometimes came off as a serial exaggerator”
If you score Wednesday’s debate largely on the basis of which candidate for president exuded a rambunctious energy, it was Gov. Romney all the way.
If, however, you score Wednesday’s debate on substance — accurate facts and honest arithmetic — Obama more than held his own. He drove home the false promises and dangerous ramifications of Romney’s proposed tax cuts, which would surely raise taxes for the middle class by eliminating breaks, such as the home mortgage deduction, and require the elimination of essential programs, such as student loan subsidies.
Romney Goes On Offense, Pays For It In First Wave Of Fact Checks
And because Romney made more factual assertions, he’s getting dinged more — at least in the early hours after the debate — by the fact checkers.
Well, no, it doesn’t really work that way. Normal people don’t lie more, the more they speak. Liars lie more, the more they speak.
Gergen on CNN:
“Romney was flat-out lying.”
The [Obama] campaign has a good point: Romney’s policy explanations, particularly about how he was going to pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts, were vague, misleading and riddled with falsehoods. But he delivered them with conviction. Obama supporters will probably be asking themselves how their candidate failed to rebut Romney during the debate, rather than after, until the next meeting between the two on Oct. 16.
For all that Romney achieved during the evening, he probably generated future headaches with answers that questionably portrayed his own plans. He insisted, “I don’t have any plan to cut education funding” when his plan to limit domestic federal spending to 16 percent of the economy would require large reductions in all federal programs. And he doubled down on his commitment to a position that many analysts believe is mathematically impossible: that he can cut marginal tax rates by 20 percent for all earners without reducing the share of the tax burden paid by the rich, increasing the deficit, or raising taxes on the middle class. One of Obama’s best moments in a largely listless evening came when he argued that Romney was avoiding specifics on several of his key proposals because the public will not like them. That may be the one valuable theme that emerged from the debate for Obama.
The problem for Romney, as I noted in my previous post, is whether Romney’s performance last night was enough since it failed to elicit a grand gaffe from president Obama. As I wrote earlier:
Mitt Romney won the battle, but he may very well lose the war. Romney needed the President to make a huge gaffe last night. And by being calm, controlled, and downright boring, the President avoided any big mistakes. And he may have just won the election by so doing.
And while debates are among the most memorable events of any presidential campaign, there is little evidence that they can change the outcome of an election.
Obama may have underwhelmed, but he avoided the sort of disastrous performance that can cause backers to reassess their support.
“Nobody is going to switch sides on the basis of this debate,” said Samuel Popkin, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego.
There is one big silver lining for Obama: The debates usually don’t do a lot to change how people vote. When they do matter, as with Gerald Ford in 1976, it’s usually because of a major blunder, not a broadly weak performance. Obama did himself no favors tonight, but his weakness probably had little impact on the number of votes he will receive.
In other words: It’s the gaffes, stupid. And there weren’t any.
Well, there weren’t any by Obama. Back to Romney’s caffeine intake, on could argue that, in retrospect, Romney didn’t carry himself well at all. When you review the videos, Romney was a bit of a bully.