Romney Hammers Obama in First Presidential Debate

"Patch Back" columnist Lisa Bigelow says Republican nominee Governor Mitt Romney handily defeated President Barack Obama in the first presidential debate.


He was clear. He was (almost) concise. He was specific and he was energized.

In what can only be described as a brilliant performance, Republican nominee Mitt Romney dominated President Barack Obama in Wednesday evening’s first debate, when the questions pertained to domestic policy, specifically the economy, health care and the role of government.

President Obama appeared lackluster while speaking and did not project confidence, even as he described his vision for a “new economic patriotism” while attempting to scare undecided voters by stating that “the only way” to cut taxes — as Governor Romney plans through tax reform — is by cutting education and other important domestic programs.

While Obama gazed at the ground or spoke directly to moderator Jim Lehrer, Romney projected enthusiasm as he directed his answers directly to Obama.

Romney clearly and unequivocally denied Obama’s assertion that his tax reform plan would do anything other than help the middle class. Although Obama did not offer any specifics to improve the American economy, Romney pointed to his five-point plan, which, he claims, will broaden the tax base by putting more Americans back in the workforce.

Energy independence is Romney’s first economic goal, which he believes will create four million jobs. He also wants to open up Latin American trade, eliminate Chinese “cheating,” improve skills training and education, balance the budget and “champion” small business.

'Trickle Down Government'

Romney observed that new business startups under Obama are down to a 30-year low.

“Trickle down government is not the answer for America,” Romney said, thus spinning a well-worn liberal slogan to a conservative advantage.

Romney expressed disbelief, and rightfully so, that President Obama would choose to focus the first two years of his presidency on passing health care reform, which Romney noted did not receive one Republican vote, instead of working to put Americans back on the job — and on the tax rolls.

President Obama appeared tired and nearly disinterested as he repeated worn and inaccurate Democratic talking points pertaining to tax policy, education and entitlement programs.

Romney, on the other hand, appeared presidential, energized, knowledgeable and forthright — especially during the countless number of times he pointed to putting people back to work as his top priority: “this is about jobs”, “my priority is jobs”, “create more jobs” and “putting people back to work” were heard consistently throughout the evening from Romney.

Obama mentioned his desire to hire 100,000 math and science teachers; to this point, Romney retorted that with Obama’s green jobs plan, he could have hired two million teachers.

“My friend told me, [Obama] doesn’t pick the winners and the losers, [he] just picks the losers,” when it comes to investing in green jobs, Romney said, referring to Solyndra and other failed taxpayer-funded green business initiatives.

The Middle Class

For the most part, Obama refrained from blaming the George W. Bush administration for the failures of the past three-and-a-half years. But he was unable to refute Romney’s observations that the economy is growing more slowly now than it was last year or the year before that and that gas, food, energy and health care costs — important issues to middle class voters — have all risen under Obama.

“I call it ‘the economy tax,’” Romney said.

Romney also criticized Obama for failing to reduce the deficit as promised and for failing to take advantage of the reforms suggested by the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission.

“You should have jumped on that” recommended bipartisan reform, Romney said.

Obama’s response that his new plan would take into account elements of Simpson-Bowles felt too little, too late. And Obama’s claim that he listens to all ideas regardless from whom they come rings false, as any close observer of the 2009 stimulus package knows.

In fact, each of Obama’s “plans” are warmed over talking points from 2008. The difference is, he’s had 3.5 years to deliver and has failed to do so. And all we have left is a higher cost of living, a stagnant job market, a precarious foreign affairs predicament and a tarnished international reputation.

Obama performed better when he spoke about entitlements, such as Obamacare, Medicare and Social Security, although Romney won the point when he said his entitlement policy would be, “I would ask myself, ‘is the program so critical that we have to borrow money from China to pay for it?’”

Ultimately, the difference between the two candidates was most stark near the end of the debate when Lehrer asked about the role of government in society.

Obama noted that he believes government offers people a “ladder of opportunity” and that “some things we do better together.”

Romney, on the other hand, pointed to the words written on the backdrop behind the candidates from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The president should “promote and protect the principles of those documents,” Romney said.

“We are seeing a belief that government can do a better job than the individual,” he continued. Yet “college graduates can’t find work, more Americans are on food stamps.”

Obama also noted his responsibility to keep Americans safe.

I can’t help but wonder what the diplomatic staff in Libya thinks about that. 

Cliff Cuming October 04, 2012 at 10:04 AM
What impressed me most was Romney's assertion that it is immoral to continue the current course that has failed to create jobs. He backed up this overarching principle with facts, figures, and a five point plan. Vague allegations and an indefensible policy left o in a ditch.
Alethiologist October 04, 2012 at 11:09 AM
A balanced report Lisa. Thanks
Noah Fence October 04, 2012 at 11:34 AM
In a televised debate, it’s all about the hair. Just ask JFK about that. Romey has awesome hair, Obama doesn’t. That’s all you need to know to cast your vote in November!
Markoni October 04, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Lehrer did his best to help Obama, Lehrer gave Obama 5 more minutes to speak than Romney. Nobody works harder than PBS to get big government democrats elected because their paychecks depend on it! Romney would cut PBS's government subsidy and limit the governments spending on Public Brainwashing Service. I get 6 PBS radio stations and 6 PBS TV stations broadcast to my home in CT 24/7. I miss my local stations with local news and opinion.
Ipso Facto October 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Can even a dominant win in a debate produce a victory in November? A few key numbers suggest that Romney supporters shouldn't expect too much as a result of last night's performance. One of those numbers is 32. That's the percentage of undecided voters who told Washington Post and ABC News pollsters last week that they were "very interested" in the presidential debates. By contrast, 59 percent of definite Obama supporters and 53 percent of Romney supporters said they were "very interested." As Scott Clement wrote for The Fix, "The poll’s finding underscores the challenge for Obama and Romney to sway a shrinking and elusive slice of the electorate with less than five weeks left in the contest. In addition to lacking clear support for Obama or Romney, on-the-fence voters are much less likely to say they are 'absolutely certain to vote' than those with firm opinions, even further limiting their potential impact on the election." Romney's performance could have a similar effect on voters and donors who were losing faith in his candidacy, and that makes things much more difficult for Obama. But unless he wins the votes of either Obama's supporters or those hard-to-reach undecided voters, he'll have a hard time winning in November.
Ipso Facto October 04, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Then change the channels -- or has your brain become so addled you can't figure that out. PBS is a gem, as is NPR (which is what the public radio network is called). Maybe if your brain wasn't so washed you could appreciate the fine programs they both have.
Ipso Facto October 04, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Hilarious. Here's a nominee who has written off 47% of the American electorate, destroyed countless American companies and shipped tens of thousands of jobs to China and other Asian low-wage countries. A nominee who has said he would cut taxes on the rich and will destroy Medicaid as we know it. But he didn't want to talk about any of that, now did he? Because he's so moral? What a travesty!
Alethiologist October 04, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Priebus said Obama’s lackluster performance “showed the president in his true light, uninspiring with no answers, no vision. It showed the president as a guy who's in love with being president, but he's not in love with knowing and performing in a way that makes him a great president. "That's what Obama's problem is. He's in love with being somebody special, but he's not in love with doing something special and so what you saw tonight was an incredible, shocking performance with both candidates, except for completely opposite reasons."
Alethiologist October 04, 2012 at 02:52 PM
IF You forget, it was Obama that wants to steal 750billion from Medicare. It was Romney that helped build Sports Authority and several other retail chains that employ Americans. He said he would cut tax RATES but it would be revenue neutral.
MAC October 04, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Don't feel bad, Barack--you're not the first man who could not perform on his 20th anniversary. (A caller on the Dennis Miller show this afternoon told that--and I could not stop laughing!!) Your assessments are spot on, Lisa and Cliff! And Obama did not help himself with his lazy and narcissistic attitude, reflected in his advance statement that "Debate prep is a DRAG." He actually does not do the JOB he was elected to--working from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and missing 60 % of his PDBs!!! Sadly, most voters are very uninformed and vote based on emotional or identity politics reasons. A few of those include: family tradition with a party, race-based decisions, class envy--which is Obama's specialty!--anti-Mormon animus, or being gullible and believing all the LIES told about Republicans, and about Romney and his economic plans and the effects thereof. Then you have the welfare and other DEPENDENTS who want the government to be their "Daddy," who are never going to vote for Romney. (And no, that's not 47 %, and I wish Romney had not used the word "victim" about them, because he certainly knows, as do I, that not all of the 47 % want to be dependent or are lazy or want the government providing for them.) Of course the lamestream media are hand in glove with Obama, promoting the "LIES" about Romney and pretending that Obama is not a FAILURE as a Leader, and ^^especially in the most essential responsibility of keeping Americans SAFE^^!
Ipso Facto October 06, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Evelyn -- That's all you've got? The baloney about taking money from Medicare which has been debunked many, many times? Obama blew it certainly by not attacking Rmoney for restating this outrageous lie. He also blew it by not slamming Rmoney for his 47% remarks which were truly reprehensible. And Obama was negligent in not taking Rmoney to task about the Republican's despicable war on women. But what I found most disappointing was Obama allowing Rmoney to try and pose as a centrist. The "severe conservative" Rmoney was locked in a closet while Rmoney flip-flopped on every policy position he has taken in the past year, not to mention the extremist reactionary GOP platform.
Ipso Facto October 06, 2012 at 03:35 PM
What was shown in a "true light" was Rmoney's capacity for flip-flopping. The guy has no moral core, he's just an empty suited rich guy who will say and do anything to get elected. No sale.


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