WASHINGTON, October 17, 2012 - Democrats say President Barack Obama scored a knockout punch in the second presidential debate. Republicans call it a tie. But one thing is for sure, President Obama was clearly not “Uncle Fluffy” this time. He came to fight. The polls have been tightening so the stakes were high. The president took this debate more seriously and it showed.
Two weeks ago, the bipartisan consensus was that President Obama had a terrible performance in the first debate. The president was determined to change that narrative and he did. Unlike after the first presidential debate, the news headline today is not “What happened to the president?” It is more like “Obama fights back” “Obama wins.”
The president was less wonky and professorial and more direct and assertive. He was passionate and engaging-visibly angry at times but stern throughout the debate.
He finally brought up Mitt Romney’s 47% comment much to the delight of many Democrats.
“But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.
Folks on Social Security who have worked all their lives. Veterans who have sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas tax, but don’t make enough income,” President Obama said.
Gov. Romney scored some political points as well. On jobs, the economy, and the debt/deficits, Mitt Romney the businessman came across as compelling. He made a convincing case against President Obama’s economy record and deficit spending. “When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $5 trillion of deficits over the last four years. That’s math that doesn’t add up.,” Romney said.
He pledged his support for student loans and college grants, contraception coverage for women and green cards for immigrants. He also talked about his five point plan: energy independence, job training, trade, balanced budget, and targeted tax policies to help small businesses.
It remains to be seen if this debate will change the dynamic of the race. But without a doubt, the president’s performance re-energizes the Democratic base and changes the two-week long media narrative about President Obama’s poor showing in the first debate.
President Obama still has not offered a compelling vision or plan for his next four years. He spent most of his time in last night’s debate defending his record and attacking Mitt Romney which left him no time to talk about the future.
Mitt Romney has a five point plan. It may or may not be a good plan. It may or may not have sufficient details. But it is still a plan. And when voters keep hearing it, Gov. Romney will continue to come across as competent.
President Obama needs a similar four to five step soundbite ready plan that people can latch on to. He won the debate tonight without it. He will need it to win the election.
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