Someone needs to tell that poor Obama voter that George W. Bush has not been on the presidential ballot in eight years. The idea that a candidate should have to distinguish himself from someone who last ran for national office in 2004 is ridiculous. Stupid question, but since Candy Crowley selected them, see #2, above.
5. Romney did not “blow” the Libya question
A number of people have criticized Governor Romney for not hitting the president harder on Libya. I disagree. It is perfectly understandable that Romney would be thrown when the moderator inserts herself into the debate, and then – inaccurately - claims that the President’s first public statement about Benghazi characterized it as a “terrorist attack.” We all watched while statement after statement came out from the administration, blaming that asinine YouTube video, and calling it a “spontaneous protest.” That Obama would want to rewrite history is understandable. That the press would do so – and in the middle of the debate – was astonishing. Anyone would have been gobsmacked, and Romney rebounded as well as anyone could have. To have been more insistent – without the videotape right there, for example – would have made him look belligerent, combative, and defensive. Far better to let the fact checkers point out immediately after the debate – and for days thereafter – that Obama was trying to deceive the American public, and that Candy Crowley helped him do it. This keeps the issue at the forefront of public consciousness, going into the final debate about – ta-daaaa! – foreign policy. Expect Governor Romney to have transcripts at his fingertips next week, if need be.
6.There’s “won.” And then there’s “won.”
The poll results demonstrate the difference between asking, “Who won the debate?” and “Who is going to win the election?” In a CBS poll, undecided voters indicated that Obama “won” the debate, but only by a plurality; 63% were either unsure who won, or gave the win to Romney. More significantly, CNN reported that polled voters gave Romney a substantial edge on issues like the economy (58% – 40%), health care (49% – 46%), taxes (51% - 44%), controlling the deficit (49% - 36%), and leadership (49% - 46%). Even the group polled by MSNBC went for Romney. So Democrats need to ask themselves this question: will voters select a president who won a debate? Or one in whom they have more confidence to fix the economy, health care, taxes, and the deficit? I think they already know the answer to that one.
7.It doesn’t move the needle the way they think it will
Democrat consultant Joe Trippi summed it up best last night when he said, “I think it stopped the bleeding” for the Obama campaign. Meaning that Obama loyalists will not be filled with despair, and the good folks at MSNBC will have a breather in between spells of apoplexy. But if the feedback from undecided voters on both Fox and MSNBC are any indication, momentum for the Romney campaign will continue to grow. Expect more of the same: polls will still slightly oversample Democrats and Obama will still not be able to crack the 50% mark, Gallup will keep dishing up more bad news for the president, crowds at Romney rallies will increase, swing states will keep swinging for Romney, and – worst of all for President Obama – Benghazi will stay in the news right up to the date of the next debate. The game changer was the first debate. From here on out, it is all about confirmation and turnout.