If the presidential debate was a boxing match, then Romney landed quite a few knock-out punches. Obama seemed to put up his guard, and even tried to throw a few punches of his own, but he couldn’t stop the devastating force of Romney’s fury.
The most memorable is Romney’s closing statement. He believes in God. He believes we are all children of that God, and that everyone has a solemn duty to care for one another. After that, he described his missionary service and his service as a pastor, how he cared for and helped the people that he came in contact with in ever walk of life. The message was not so important as the delivery. Here was a sincere man sharing his sincerely held beliefs and his compassion and understanding for every American.
The second most terrible punch was when Romney laid out every failure of the Obama administration. It wasn’t in the spirit of trying to hurt Obama, but in trying to help him understand what has happened to the American people under his presidency. Romney didn’t blame Obama’s motives. He didn’t even blame his competency. He simply said that what he did didn’t work, and it’s time to give something else a try, for the sake of the American people. Every American who has suffered under the Obama presidency felt something, I believe, in that moment. The fact that Candy Crowley didn’t allow Obama to reply probably saved Obama from putting his foot in his mouth. It didn’t matter. There was nothing Obama could say, except, “I’m sorry, I’ll do better next time, if you trust me, which you can’t.”
The third most terrible punch was on Obama’s energy policy. When Romney challenged Obama’s rebuttal that what Romney said was a lie, Obama faltered. He couldn’t answer the question, so he filibustered. Romney gave Obama as much rope as he wanted. When Obama finally realized what had happened, and turned Romney’s time back to Romney, the deed was done.
The question about equality in the workplace for women should have been a gimme for Obama. Instead, Romney got to answer first, and completely obliterated any liberal idea on the topic. One, as governor, he sought out for and hired and accommodated women in the workplace. He remarked that he gave his chief of staff the time she needed to be with her children spoke to the millions of single and married moms in the workplace. Work is not the goal for them: the family is. Too often jobs place work over family, which is why women don’t want to work even if they should. His second point, that a robust economy, where workers are in high demand, does not care about the gender of their employees, and would bend over backwards to make room for women was also heard and understood. Obama’s returning blow was wonkish and weak. Romney’s counter punch was a solid punch landing on a fighter crumpling at the knees.
The first question to Romney gave Romney a chance to unload a series of devastating blows on Obama, one after the other. Obama came out of his corner strong, but from the very beginning, his face was bruised and he was faltering. The mid-way comment about Obama’s economic failure was the point where Obama should’ve turned around, and instead, he feel even further behind.
The question about gas prices and energy policy gave Romney a chance to land several devastating, crushing blows to Obama. The closing remark, asking people whether they are paying more at the pump, more for electricity and heat, more for energy in general, and whether they could afford four more years of that, sealed the deal.
The one faltering blow, Romney’s accusation that Obama didn’t identify the Benghazi terrorist attack as a terrorist attack, didn’t land cleanly at the debate. It even looked like Obama blocked it and countered with a nice sucker punch. While the impression of this to those who watched seemed to be reality, what really happened is now we are going to have a debate about how Obama handled the terrorist attacks under his watch for the next few weeks. Now Obama is going to have to fight the message sweeping America that he is weak and incompetent when it comes to the terror issue. Of course, Romney was right. It took two weeks for Obama to say the attacks were terrorist attacks and not protest rallies about some obscure YouTube video. But that’s going to come out over the next few weeks, and the Americans who plan to vote this year are going to hear it.
This was another disastrous debate for Obama. He is tired. He is repetitive. He has nothing interesting to say. His attacks on Romney were weak and easily defended. At times, he seemed even to parrot Romney. His closing statement was weak. In no case did he try to defend his record. His defenses were either “I didn’t do it, Bush did”, “It’s hard being president”, or “You can’t do any better.” That’s not what Americans want to hear, not now, not ever.
Edit: In terms of devastation to words, this was the phrase that was the most powerful: When talking about how he would be different than President Bush, Romney pointed out that Obama condemned Bush for spending half a trillion dollars over budget. But then Obama doubled it. The audience gasped.
Also, the smoothest counter-punch came when the moderator attacked Romney for flip-flopping on guns while he was governor. Romney’s smooth deflection, that he brought the pro-gun and anti-gun people together, and signed legislation they both agreed to, was brilliant. The counter-punch, that Obama was incapable of doing anything like this, and Romney would resolve the division in DC, was marvelous. It was like watching a master at work. Lots of minds were changed at that moment, I believe.