Romney got a full five minutes less in airtime than the President, and often had to struggle to get rebuttals in. I would much prefer a Lincoln-Douglas style debate, or even a simple conversation. Put the two men on stage, sit them down with a timer, and let them simply talk directly to Americans.
The President’s biggest weakness was his ability to stay focused. Governor Romney subtly mocked this at one point. The President didn’t seem to know for sure what he was trying to say. He was forced—and willingly accepted—to defend the IPAB! When you’re defending the IPAB, you’re doing it wrong.
The President seems to think that it’s 2008 again, and not because he talked about George Bush (he didn’t mention that unutterable name, anymore than he mentioned Voldemort). Why hasn’t he done the things he says we ought to do? It’s not good enough simply to say that the Republicans control the House of Representatives: for the first two years, Obama had his hands on all the levers of the federal government. And even if the Republicans did control Congress, why is the President so weak that he can do nothing despite it? Why won’t there be four more years of gridlock if he’s re-elected? The President’s complaints about the existence of Republicans in Congress sounds a lot like “this job is too hard for me.”
CBS news assembled 500 people for a poll after the debate: Romney won by a 2 to 1 margin. He did a great job, and should take a great deal of confidence with him on the campaign trail.
The Vice-Presidential debate is next, on October 11. I can’t wait. If Ryan can thoroughly beat Biden—which no one, even the most confident Democrats doubts—then the Republicans can regain some momentum.