Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Obama Won the Debate, Hands Down. So Did Crowley.

We try to always admit when we're wrong, and we have to admit we were definitely wrong in our doubts about Candy Crowley as the moderator of the second Presidential debate last night. Ms. Crowley did exactly what she said she would - she got involved and truly moderated a debate that became more of a real debate than we've ever seen in a Presidential context. Crowley was firm with both men, she rarely backed down, and she gave serious fact checks when needed.

As far as the two men at center of last night's events, the debate was never going to be anything more than a Rorschach inkblot for much of the country, who are already firmly and deeply decided on who they support and therefore were going to see in it whatever they already expected to see.

That said, it was the undecided voters that the two men were addressing - both the 80 undecided voters in the room, and the thousands of undecided voters across the country, upon whom this presidential race hinges. The immediate post-debate consensus seems to be that President Obama beat the tar out of Mr. Romney, and we heartily concur. To say that at times Romney looked shocked, almost punch drunk, wouldn't be going too far.

Mr. Romney interrupted and attempted to bully both President Obama and Ms. Crowley at nearly every turn, often in a rude, arrogant, and discernibly angry way. Romney's arrogance made it clear that he is not accustomed to everyone around him not deferring to him at all times, on his every idea - what a friend of our staff calls 'strong and wrong.'

That incredible level of arrogance could not have been featured any more starkly than when Mr. Romney got fact checked, in real time, during the discussion on the President's Rose Garden remarks the day after the attack in Libya.

Romney seemed to refuse to acknowledge that the President in fact did call the Libyan attack "an act of terror" even after the President corrected him. When Ms. Crowley stepped in and backed up the President with the quote from the Rose Garden, Romney was visibly stunned. And then continued his insistence that it was untrue.

The large number of topics covered in the debate was surprising, given the vigorous back and forth between the two candidates. From good-paying jobs and outsourcing, to energy and taxes, to trade issues and immigration, the debate was full of solid questions.

We were particularly impressed with how President Obama took a question from a young lady about workplace fairness for women, and after mentioning that the first bill he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the President then turned to women's health - and specifically birth control - as a financial issue for American women. This is a fact that is too often overlooked by men making healthcare policy for women.

Overall, President Obama had more than just better energy and presentation this time. Obama also had punch after punch, fact checking Mr. Romney at nearly every turn. Obama had all the facts, and more details in one answer than Mr. Romney provided all night.  Mr. Obama was a "professor" once again, but the kind you become friends with and have beers with later in life - not the stodgy, aloof, uptight guy you and all your friends made fun of back in school. Obama made the facts reachable for most Americans - which means those facts are significantly more likely to stick in their heads for the next twenty days.

President Obama finished both the night and Mr. Romney with a remark that Romney invited comment on in his own closing answer, a comment about the 47%. Obama noted that Mr. Romney is a good man and loves his family - but that Mitt Romney has no idea of who the real people in America are, the people that Mitt was writing off with that 47% remark, behind closed doors, when Romney thought most Americans would never hear his words.

We still think Obama is 100% correct with his assessment, that Mitt Romney is out of touch with what most Americans struggle with daily - and this debate clearly showed Romney simply doesn't have the skills to be a leader for all Americans.

The post-debate polls said Obama won, and our assessment of both the facts and the style of the second presidnetial debate agrees with those polls.

President Obama won this debate soundly.

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