Daniel Doherty

Furthermore, his refusal to engage in personal attacks against the President, as he has consistently refrained from doing throughout the primary season, was another positive takeaway for the Romney campaign.

“This president is a nice guy,” he said. “But he doesn’t have a clue about how to get this country working again.”

By consistently denigrating the Obama administration’s economic policies, and not the President himself, Romney has shrewdly refrained from using personal attacks to garner support. Instead, by focusing exclusively on his experiences in the private sector as a job creator, his knowledge of economics is already beginning to draw voters.

But politics, history tells us, is a fickle business. This was, after all, only the first of five scheduled debates that will ultimately shape who wins the Republican nomination. But unlike the 2008 primary, Mitt Romney has placed himself in a position to court independent and moderate primary-goers, especially those worried about America’s economic future and leery of backing a Tea Party candidate.

But one question remains: can he beat President Obama in the general election?

I believe he can, but the primary will be his greatest challenge. While he has the qualities of a great president, he cannot avoid his history of flip-flopping on key issues nor deny the series of legislative blunders he made as governor. In short, he has his work cut out for him.

But, after watching him debate Wednesday night, he certainly has made a favorable impression. And at this point in time, that's what really matters.

Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography