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. 

Andrew Turkenkopf October 04, 2012 at 09:44 AM
I by defeat you mean tell lies and spread misinformation and talk over the Mr. Leher. Obama probably should have called out Mitt's lies or pressed him to actually state what tax cuts/spending cuts (beyond killing PBS and Big Bird to save .01% of the federal budget.) But I guess it will make okay campaign ad fodder. http://www.salon.com/2012/10/04/debate_fact_check/ also both of them did the typical, modern political debate tactic of not always answering the question asked, but instead steering towards their talking points. I think the moderators need more power (like a mute button, or a buzzer) and need more guts and tell the candidates to respond to the questions (both the moderators and the other candidate.)
Steven DeVaux October 04, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Ain't America great or what?
H. Ferguson October 04, 2012 at 01:03 PM
It was a loopsided show with Obama off his game. The President seemed to ramble on with campaign slogans while Romney was clear and concise with real answers. He was even a bit witty.
Art Kerley October 04, 2012 at 02:03 PM
President Obama appeared to be totally unprepared for this debate. The question that needs to be asked is whether he brings this lack of energy and engagement to the office of the presidency. He has exercised very little leadership on the budget, the deficit, the looming fiscal crisis, or even his $800 billion stimulus package...preferring to pass the ball to the Democrats in Congress. The president looked annoyed that he had to subject himself to this debate experience. If he brings this kind of performance to negotiations with world leaders such as Mr. Putin, we are likely to get our clocked cleaned. Mr. Romney needs to continue driving home the point that the president's leadership skills whether on domestic issues or foreign affairs are sorely lacking. It will be interesting to see how the media responds to this debate. Will they continue to run flak for Mr. Obama, or will that approach be deemed untenable now that 50 million Americans have seen a totally prepared, engaging, reasonable and confident leader in Mr. Romney, rather than the negative narrative created by the Obama campaign and aided by an all too fawning media. It's ironic, that the media's love affair with the President, may have contributed to his weak performance last night. After all, he was rarely if ever seriously challenged on his programs and policies over the last 4 years...or during the 2008 campaign for that matter. Last night, the audacity belonged to Mr. Romney. Bravo, Governor!
Howard Lasser October 04, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I agree that Romney had a better showing in the debate than the President. But it was a different Romney with different positions than he has been promoting for the past year. He has been saying that he would spur economic growth with a tax cut that would free up money for investment by “job creators” in the private sector. Last night he said that any tax cut would be offset by elimination of tax “loopholes” and would be revenue neutral, essentially leaving the effective tax rates the same. In fact he said low income people would see a tax decrease, so if it is revenue neutral, high income earners would see an effective tax increase. So where is the money coming from for the “job creators” to invest?
Lucia October 04, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Last night obama had a lackluster performance that is, of course, in tandem with the horrendous job he has done as president. He was as ill equipped for the debate as he is to run the country. He must be voted out.
michael delvalle October 04, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Mitt Romney gave a sample of what a president should be . A clear vision of future plans for the economy and how to implement those plans . His record as Gov. of Mass. is positive proof that he can work with democrats ( over 80% in Mass.) to get things done. Obama had two years with a complete democrat controlled house and senate and did nothing, not his fault, his only experience is as a community organizer.
John Funk October 04, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@Howard.. we agree, Obama didn't show very well. Perhaps it is not so much that its a different story he's telling, perhaps you get your information from an extremely biased source? They are not able to spin it at all with a live event? I liked what Romney said, and since you seem to be a smart guy.. I imagine it probably made a lot of sense to you too? Wonder how many Democrats will now consider changing how they'll vote? All are welcome to join us in rebuilding America. It's OK.. you don't have to admit it here... nobody knows what you do in the voting booth. May the best man win!
Howard Lasser October 05, 2012 at 01:12 AM
I did not get any spin, nor did I get it from any biased source. Romney has been sayiing for many months he was going to give a 20% across the board tax cut. That would free up investment for the private sector, that investment would create growth and jobs. Now he says the tax cut would be revenue neutral, that is the effective tax rate would be the same. I am not making a judgement about whether this is a good plan or agree, I just asking what I think should be a simple question. maybe you have an answer, if there is no change in the tax rate, where does the investment he promises come from? No one seems to be able to answer that simple question. If you are a reasonable questioning person I would think you would be asking the same question.
michael delvalle October 05, 2012 at 04:48 AM
In my opinion , Gov. Romney meant a 20% tax rate cut would make the tax rate more competitve mainly for small business. Ireland's business tax rate is 11%. The U.S. business tax rate is 35%. When a business has 20% more working capitol they could afford to hire more employees, who inturn pay more taxes offsetting the tax cut. That's my understanding and just my opinion.
Howard Lasser October 05, 2012 at 01:10 PM
First a comparison to Ireland is pretty tenusous considering the current state of Ireland's economy. What Romney said was he would off set the cut in rate with a reduction in loopholes that the same amount of revenue would be collected. It that is true there is no increased funds available for investment. The only way you do what you say is shift the tax burden from business to personel income something he said he would not do. So it does not work.
Stephen October 05, 2012 at 02:56 PM
There is no question that Mitt had a better debate performance on Wednesday. Each of us vote based on our own perception of who will do best for our country going forward. Politics is cruel and not always fair. I believe strongly that with a divided nation politically, the only answer to our long term needs is COMPROMISE. Mr. Romney appears to me to be in his "Etch-A-Skech" moment again with the tax reduction which is no more. He certainly is no true conservative, but simply a man who wants to be President. I do wonder sometimes about the current President's leadership abilities, but he has displayed those attributes from in certain situations during the past four years. So far I haven't seen enough new or inspired information from Romney to make me change my vote away from our current President. We do need COMPROMISE and I do believe we have a better chance of getting it with President Obama.
Dr. Robin Appleby October 06, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Stephen, you say that you like COMPROMISE and that "we have a better chance of getting that with President Obama" than Mitt Romney. Pres. Obama's signature, landmark legislation was Obamacare....Not ONE Republican voted for it in the Senate or U.S House...the Democrats simply rammed it down our throats...wouldn't even let us read it...had to "vote on it to find out what was inside it." Governor Romney had a Mass. Legislature with 87 % Democrats (if I remember the debate correctly) and sat down with the Democrats every week and COMPROMISED with them and got all but 2 Democrats to support and vote for his Romneycare bill. But you think we have a better chance of getting COMPROMISE with Mr. Obama ?? You are entitled to your opinion but could you please back it up with a few examples of where Mr. Obama reached across to the Republicans, listened to them, respected them and worked with them and crafted a COMPROMISE with them.
Steven DeVaux October 06, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Couldn't agree more Art. He didn't play the Democrat's "split hairs" and "Mr. Exactly" games. Instead he showed his capability for compromise and change instead of being immovable on the issues. Clearly a positive demostration of a maturation process as opposed to the mantle of the presidency failing to show four years of results.


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