Romney misses opportunity at debate
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 00:10
The second presidential debate was held Tuesday night at Hofstra University in New York, and it was a crucial night for President Obama to regain the lead after a dismal performance at the first debate. Unlike the first debate, both candidates went on the attack, something Obama did not handle well the first time. Like sporting events, though, people want to know who won the game.
According to a CNN poll of debate watchers, 46 percent said President Obama won, while 39 percent said Romney won, which is within the margin of error. A CBS News poll had similar results; 37 percent said Obama pulled the victory and 30 percent said Romney. Thirty-three percent said it was a tie.
Though these results are a statistical tie, I believe Obama won by a slight edge, and it is not because Romney did not have compelling ideas. It is because he mimicked an infant screaming for its bottle. Is that to say Obama did not act childish? It absolutely is not, but Romney screamed louder. In the first debate, this attitude worked wonders for Romney because he appeared assertive, dominant and like a leader, mainly because Obama did not fight back. This time, however, Obama fought back, and Romney did not know how to handle it.
Unfortunately, Romney learned two bad habits from the Republican debates last year: constant interruption and complaining about speaking time. Occasionally, the latter works beautifully. Newt Gingrich used this tactic and attacked Anderson Cooper in one of the Republican debates; it was effective and drew in laughter and applause. When Romney utilized it on Tuesday, he came across like Joe Biden - a grumpy, condescending politician.
If not for Romney’s approach, he would have won. The last four years under the Obama Administration have not been economically healthy, hence the reason Obama is having a hard time convincing Independent voters. If Romney would stick to his domestic plan and not worry about petty arguments like bickering about rules, he would wipe the floor clean with Obama. After the debate, a CBS News poll showed that 65 percent of those surveyed said Romney would better handle the economy. In CNN’s poll, Romney led by an 18 percent margin on the same issue.
Deficit spending in Obama’s four years in the White House will be an estimated $5.170 trillion. Like James Carville said in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Romney needs to focus on deficits, balancing budgets, the economy and how he is different from George W. Bush.
This last point is crucial. During the town hall debate, an undecided voter said the economy’s woes started during the Bush Administration, and she feared a return under another Republican president. Romney then proceeded to explain how he differentiates himself from Bush, including new energy solutions, Latin American trade agreements, cracking down on China and signing a balanced budget. Many Americans continue to chastise Bush, so Romney needs to convince voters his policies are different.
This debate did not change the course of the election. They are still fairly even, and swing states are still out there. The last debate, which takes place Monday, will be a deciding factor in the election. It will be the last chance each candidate has to be on a national stage to convince both committed and undecided voters.