10.04.2012 1

Obama’s Denver Debate Debacle

By Rick Manning — Reactions to the debate are flying all around the D.C. Beltway in the aftermath of Romney-Obama 1, O’s Denver Debate Debacle.

Analysts will argue various points in the debate with fact checkers and spinners on both sides furiously working to either maximize the advantage or control the damage.  However, one bit of data that came out of the debate says it all, a CNN/ORC International poll of voters watching the debate found that Romney not only won the debate, but he dominated it.  67 percent of respondents identified Romney as the winner.  To put this into perspective, 60 percent of the voters was the previous high water mark for anyone being declared the winner by voters since the presidential debate poll was first taken in 1984.

Clinton strategist James Carville perhaps summed it up best when he said on CNN, “Obama just had a debate with a chainsaw.”

Two factors made Romney’s debate performance so impressive, low expectations and a strong command of the facts.

The Romney campaign rope a dope had MSNBC analysts and wishful thinking Democrats declaring the race over just a few short days ago.  This created incredibly low expectations for Romney’s performance and high one’s for Obama’s.  Instead, we saw a well prepared Romney not allow Obama to get away with a standard debating technique of throwing out five charges against your opponent with the thought that he will not be able to deal with all of them, and will seem defensive when he does.

Romney had short, strong answers prepared for each charge that he delivered undeterred by moderator or Obama.  Then Romney turned the tables on Obama by directly challenging his record.  Incredibly, Obama never seemed to warm to the task of trying to defend four years of failure, perhaps expecting that Romney would wilt instead.

Romney’s demonstrative presentation of his own plans for the future and what Obama had done in the past, stole the debate from Obama who was presumed to be the smartest guy in the room.  When Romney seemingly knew more about what Obama had done than Obama himself, it became apparent to everyone that there was only one adult in the room and it wasn’t the guy who has occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the past four years.

Perhaps due to Obama’s own admission that debate prep was a “drag” and a reputation as being a lazy president who would rather shoot hoops or play golf than attend intelligence briefings, Obama eventually found himself falling back on one of his old lines from 2008, claiming that under his health care plan if you had health insurance and you liked it, you would be able to keep it.

While Romney effectively dismissed this point by citing the Congressional Budget Office, he missed a golden opportunity to skewer Obama on it.

In August of 2010, Obama’s Labor Department issued regulations where they flatly state that 69 percent of all employer health care plans would NOT be grandfathered into the system as early as 2013.  That means that a huge percentage of workers will likely be forced to change coverage whether they like it or not.

One has to presume that Obama has some passing knowledge of the regulatory morass that is Obamacare, and given the publicity this one regulation received, it would be seemingly impossible to miss.

However, when any politician gets trapped they are taught to go back to basics, safe lines that have worked in the past.  This is generally good advice, except when you end up clinging to a lifeline that ends up being contradicted by your own Labor Department more than two years prior.

Politically, with two more presidential and one vice presidential debate remaining it is hard to declare a knockout in this first round, but this debate could not have been worse for Obama.

Polling from across the political spectrum, has shown that America believes the country is on the wrong track.  Obama consistently, even in the most favorable polls, tops out at around 48 percent of the vote.  That is as good as it gets for Obama’s campaign.  Team Obama’s campaign strategy was to create an aura of invincibility through a series of polls, with at best faulty sampling, to have the undecided voters do what they traditionally do, vote for who they think is going to win.

Romney-Obama 1, throws this campaign strategy out the window.  Obama is likely to sink to his natural base level of support of between 44-45 percent, and Romney is likely to rise to 50 percent in the aftermath.

Obama’s problem is that he owns his record of failure and no matter how many times he tries to convince America otherwise, he cannot escape that he has been president for the past four years.

Obama also cannot avoid the truth that 23 million Americans who want to work full time are either unemployed or underemployed.

And he cannot say America is better off when the number of people on food stamps since he took office has skyrocketed by 50 percent from 32 million to 48 million.

America wants a job, not a hand out, and while it is too early to declare a knock out, Romney came across as the man who was most likely to create an economic environment where those jobs would be created.

Perhaps the scariest thing for Team Obama is that they are now depending upon the next debate to staunch Romney’s momentum – a debate featuring the clown prince of the Administration – Vice President Joe Biden.

When your campaign comes down to how Joe Biden does in a debate against one of the true Capitol Hill policy wonks in Paul Ryan, it just might be time to start contacting real estate agents.  I understand that housing prices are dramatically lower after four years of Barack Obama, so I think he just might be able to get a deal.  Maybe Obama’s personal real estate go to guy Tony Rezco will have something open up that is suitable?

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government.

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