Linda Chavez

Obama said that the way to reduce the deficit is by cutting some spending but more importantly by increasing taxes on the wealthy. Romney believes that the way to reduce the deficit is to cut government spending. He summed up his philosophy brilliantly, saying that his test on every federal program will be to ask: "Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I'll get rid of it."

The Romney campaign should run that clip as a campaign ad and contrast it with what President Obama has wasted money on since he came to office, including the list of handouts to alternative energy companies such as Solyndra that have gone belly-up and put workers on unemployment lines.

It has never made sense to me that an incumbent president whose term has seen unemployment go up and remain over 8 percent for the last 43 months and who has racked up almost $5 trillion in debt stood any chance to be re-elected. But the polls have shown the president ahead or virtually tied with his challenger through much of the campaign. The conventional explanation has been that people like the president personally and have been lukewarm or cool on Mitt Romney, which means they are less willing to take a chance on the challenger.

In the two most recent elections in which incumbents have been ousted -- Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992 -- the challengers seemed more dynamic and in touch with average Americans than the incumbents, and voters decided to take their chances on the new guy. Mitt Romney passed that test Wednesday -- and President Obama failed it miserably.

Based on their performance in the debate, Obama looked a lot like Jimmy Carter of 1976, and Mitt Romney could just be the Ronald Reagan of 2012.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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