The governor versus the professor…

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Updated at 10:35 p.m.: Let’s put it this way: Barack Obama’s listless — maybe rusty is the better word — performance this evening puts a great deal of pressure on Vice President Joe Biden next week when he debates U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

Mitt Romney gave his campaign the best news it’s had in six weeks and more, and if nothing else, certainly will stop the panic in GOP ranks that we’ve seen.

Updated at 10:11 p.m.: A confident Mitt Romney goes personal: “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own plane and your own house, but not your own facts.”

The topic was education, but he segued into an attack on Obama’s support for “green energy.”

Updated at 10:11 p.m.: Obama finally lands one — by pointing to Romney’s vagueness on amending Dodd-Frank, elimination of tax deductions and replacing “Obamacare.”

“Does he think it might be too good for middle-class Americans?” Obama asks.

Updated at 10:07 p.m.: If the folks at the Barkley Forum are right, and presentation and confidence is the key to winning a debate, your only victor tonight can be Mitt Romney. Barack Obama’s hesitation, his constantly bowed head, and that one leg cocked behind the other doesn’t bespeak an aggressive stance.

Updated at 9:50 p.m.: Barack Obama launches an attack on Mitt Romney on Medicare, but it lacks force — and Romney dodges the direct question from Jim Lehrer: Do you support a conversion to a voucher system? I oppose any changes to current retirees or those near retirement, Romney says.

Updated at 9:40 p.m.: Biggest difference between the two tonight: Mitt Romney just rejected the Simpson-Bowles approach to federal deficit reduction — i.e., a combination of entitlement reduction and revenue increases. Barack Obama says he’ll go there.

Updated at 9:30 p.m.: Here’s a thought: Mitt Romney could be said to have won the first bout of this debate, and yet still be declared the loser — because Barack Obama has taken the debate into such detail that he’s putting a national audience to sleep.

Political rope-a-dope?

Updated at 9:22 p.m.: I have to give the first 20 minutes to Romney, who is on the attack, and focused. Obama is getting himself bogged down in a detailed defense of himself.

Updated at 9:17 p.m.: Says Romney: “I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying things that aren’t true.” Say it ain’t so, Tagg.

Updated at 9:11 p.m.: Romney disputes Obama’s accusation that he’ll run up deficit with tax cuts, says he’s not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income Americans. Middle-class Americans are paying “an economy tax.”

“I’m not looking to cut massive taxes….My principle is there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit,” he says. “Any language to the contrary is not accurate.”

Says Obama: Romney “has been asked a hundred times” about what loopholes he’ll close. And he hasn’t answered.

Romney overrides Lehrer to respond. A sign of aggressiveness.

Updated at 9:07 p.m.: Good start for Romney. Congratulates Obama on his marriage — declaring himself an unsuitable romantic partner, then opens with a vignette about a troubled woman in Ohio who was losing her home.

Updated at 9:03 p.m.: Jim Lehrer introduces himself, promises to draw out differences. Obama and Romney start out with the awkward handshake.

First question: Jobs.

Obama says to his wife: “Next year, sweetie, I promise we won’t be celebrating in front of 40 million people.” But crowd has been ordered silent. It falls flat. Then he begins his answer.

“Economic patriotism” is his key phrase.

Updated at 8:55 p.m.: Just saw Ann Romney take a cleansing breath. As for Michelle Obama — oddly, five years drops off her face when she’s worried. She looks younger.

Updated at 8:25 p.m.: Hearing much talk on cable TV about the need for Mitt Romney to be liked tonight. Anyone who’s ever met the in-laws for the first time know what a high bar that is.

What Romney needs is a three-debate likeability strategy: Respect me, trust me, then like me.

Updated at 8:05 p.m.: Meanwhile, on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly just wondered whether Mitt Romney should bring up that 2007 video of Barack Obama that conservatives have been highlighting all day.

O’Reilly wants “rowdy.”

Don’t think so.

***

Updated at 7:45 p.m.: Sick of the hype? Me, too.

The biggest decision over the next 90 minutes will be what network to tune into for this first presidential debate in Denver.

CNN? Too many bells and whistles. They’ve all but offered to attach me to a galvanometer to measure my reaction. PBS is a possibility, given that the moderator is Jim Lehrer. His 12th presidential debate.

Maybe C-SPAN.

And what am I looking for? The focus has been on what the debate means to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I’ll be looking for news.

Since early this summer, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and his bipartisan Gang of Six have been urging the Commission on Presidential Debates to press these two candidates on a “grand deal” to address a $16 trillion deficit.

For Obama, that means addressing entitlement cuts. For Romney, that means increases in federal revenue – whether a tax hike or closed loopholes.

Neither candidate has gone there. If one or the other does, that’s a headline.

***

Ladies and gentlemen:

This will be the spot where we’ll discuss tonight’s lights-out, Denver cage match between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Bookmark it and and come back and 9 p.m. We’ll be happy to have your comments. In the meantime, we post this brief list of things to watch for compiled by the Associated Press:

1. ROMNEY MAKES HIS MOVE: He needs to re-energize his campaign after slipping in the polls. Can he do it by going on attack? Watch for Romney to lay into Obama’s policies with gusto while trying to avoid getting too personal with his criticism, which could backfire. Obama needs to stay calm and hold his ground.

2. OBAMA ON DEFENSE: He’s stuck trying to defend a painfully slow economic recovery. Can a sitting president sell the idea that he knows how to make the next four years better than his first four? Or does Obama mostly try to divert attention by slamming Romney’s economic plans?

3. ABOUT THAT 47 PERCENT: Romney faces his biggest audience yet in the wake of his remarks about “47 percent of Americans.” He’ll try to dispel the notion that he’s uncaring toward people who depend on government benefits or don’t pay income tax. Can he recast his remarks as a critique of an economy that leaves so many needing food stamps and unemployment checks?

4. HOW THEY SAY IT: Watch for a clumsy gesture or errant look that says more than words — remember Al Gore sighing, George H.W. Bush checking his watch. Listen for tone of voice, too. Does Obama come across as arrogant or aloof? Does Romney seem awkward or out of touch? Did that zinger sound natural — or forced? Humor is welcome relief, but it’s tricky to pull off.

5. A SURPRISE: They try to prepare for every scenario, but something will catch the candidates off guard. That’s the telling moment. How well do they respond? Romney occasionally lost his cool with GOP primary opponents. Obama tends to lapse into long-winded answers and troublesome phrasing. Will either man be flustered into a mistake?

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

236 comments Add your comment

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
10:06 pm

I do agree with Mitt that PASSAGE of the bill should have had a more partisan approach.
But he ignores the fact that the ACA is basically a GOP idea.
The GOP dislikes the provisions for pregnancy prevention and the penalties for non-compliance.

Spud

October 3rd, 2012
10:09 pm

Romney will carry Georgia. We are spectators in this election.

Dee

October 3rd, 2012
10:13 pm

Romney has not answered 1 question tonight. I would not trust him at all. Tell us man what your plans are. Oh I forgot you don’t have any plans. You change with the weather. He is a joke and anyone who votes for him is a joke too.

Moderator

October 3rd, 2012
10:13 pm

The moderator needs to tell both candidates to shut the f&*$ up and take control of this debate. I’ve heard nothing but hot air for 1 hr 12 minutes and counting. This is a joke.

American Dream

October 3rd, 2012
10:13 pm

It is a stretch to refer to Galloway as a political insider. What a joke!

bluecollarbytes

October 3rd, 2012
10:14 pm

how funny is that headline? Obama ‘the professor’ is getting taken to school by real-world Romney.

DMac

October 3rd, 2012
10:15 pm

Romney and Obama both miss what most Americans want:
Check out this live debate coverage and listen to four candidates instead of the two (too) lame candidates. It’s live streaming on Democracy Now!
http://www.democracynow.org/

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
10:17 pm

All in all, Romney is winning on succinctness and organization of thought.
Obama – too many numbers, too many words. I don’t like the “uhs” and “ahs”
Both are working hard to make the ephemeral people connection – I think Romney is spending just a bit too much time looking at Obama and the audience.

American Dream

October 3rd, 2012
10:17 pm

Wow Galloway’s insights are amazing. Can you tell what color ties each man wore? Any guesses about boxers or briefs? Jim: you are a tool!

the bob.bob

October 3rd, 2012
10:18 pm

Ever had a Mormon Missionary at your door? They keep talking, they won’t shut up even when you make it clear that you don’t want what they’re selling. An enthusiastic boy scout. The problem is that he’ll say anything, earnestly, with feeling but he’s just talking out of his hat.

Ready to join his Church of Believers? Because it ain’t about facts, it’s about wanting to believe. I’ll stick with the facts. Go knock on the next door, no thanks.

American Dream

October 3rd, 2012
10:21 pm

Both candidates are losers. I am always saddened by the lack of solid choices we have in these contests. Is this the best we have to offer? Americans are idiots. If the Chinese take us over and the Muslims launch a Jihad against us we deserve what we get with leaders such as this. We also deserve Jim’s lame takes on this debate–given the lame state of news reporting and analysis in Atlanta. Might as well have Chipper Jones comment on this debate. Oh yeah and all you redneck Romeny lovers out there I hope you will be happy when this fool txes you out of your double wide trailers.

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
10:22 pm

there is Romney’s first zinger
also fell flat

American Dream

October 3rd, 2012
10:24 pm

Yeah. I love the color blue. It is so pretty. Jim: do you own a blue shirt? Spend much time at the club? I wish you would. Obama give me food stamps and ensures that my baby’s momma has a job at the DMV. I love Obama and I hate white people especially Neal Boortz. Boortz is such a dope. I bet he is a closet case. I have always wondered if he hangs out at any truck stops late at night. He would look good in a thong walking around the Pilot Truck Stop.

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
10:25 pm

I love Jim Lehrer but he botched this BIG TIME.

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
10:26 pm

VOTE 2012….

I’ll keep my FREEDOM

I’ll keep my CASH

I’ll keep my GUNS

YOU KEEP THE CHANGE!!!!!

American Dream

October 3rd, 2012
10:27 pm

Boortz is an idiot. Good luck in retirement. Stay away from the streetwalkers down in Florida.

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
10:29 pm

Well not like I had high expectations to begin with, but am disappointed in both Obama and Romney.
Probably a little less disappointed in Romney.

Not surprised that Obama talked for 5% more time than Romney.

Tony

October 3rd, 2012
10:31 pm

OBama refered to the USA as its people as if he isn’t one of us. Makes it real clear to me

North Fulton Voter

October 3rd, 2012
10:31 pm

Did Romney appear presidential throughout the debate?

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
10:31 pm

@the bob.bob. What an idiot!! Look at the speeches 4 years ago. Mr. Obama says the same thing tonight.,no difference. Four years, where’s the CHANGE!!

What next!

October 3rd, 2012
10:32 pm

The debate is so one sided makes you wonder if Obama has had enough of his job and wants out. He makes more points for Romney than Romney makes.

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
10:33 pm

Oh goody
The talking heads the spin room…
Where is the bourbon?

Vote for me

October 3rd, 2012
10:34 pm

This was 2 hours of my life wasted! Romney did not answer one frigging questiin he only tried to dump on the President as much as often. The President did not go on the attack until 40 minutes in. Waste of time

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:34 pm

As my name states, I am in the middle class, and I want to know where this $3600.00 cut in taxes that Obama says I have received. My taxes haven’t gone down one cent in the past 4 years. What am I missing here?

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:35 pm

Romney certainly DID answer questions, and very succinctly. What debate were you listening to? Obama kept saying the same (generally false) things over and over again

DMac

October 3rd, 2012
10:36 pm

Did Obama or Romney say we should break-up the big banks! No, they did not!
These banks remain too-big-to-fail. That’s Obama’s fault.
Not only that but derivatives still remain almost completely unregulated. Both of these guys are WRONG.
This is why I’m not wasting my vote on Obama or Romney. These guys need to know that we don’t like their stances to coddle the rich and the Wall Street bankers.
I’m voting for Jill Stein. I also like Rocky Anderson.

Watch Stein and Anderson stream live responses to Obama and Romney’s debate. http://www.democracynow.org/

fsdg

October 3rd, 2012
10:36 pm

Wow! I was surprised with Romney. He was very well spoken, very clear goals, really knows his stuff. I was very impressed. Obama talks about how great he is and how much work he’s done, but he spent the 1st 9 months (or more) blaming Bush, rather than doing anything. Go Romney!

Kevin

October 3rd, 2012
10:37 pm

I love how the people posting are blaming the moderator.

Do you EVER accept responsibility for your candidate or his actions?

Weak.

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:37 pm

Obama certainly proved why he usually uses a tele-prompter when he speaks

Jod

October 3rd, 2012
10:40 pm

Romney mopped the floor with the commander in Teleprompter.

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
10:40 pm

@Vote for me…People are tired of Mr. Obama blaming everyone else for him not being able to, or caring about until now, that he has done nothing for 4 years except posture. He should have done a little set of Al Green!!

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:41 pm

I don’t think I have ever heard as many “uh’s” in a debate as I heard from Obama tonight. He definitely needed a tele-prompter.

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
10:42 pm

@Jod…Yeah Buddy!!!

GunTotenBibleThumper

October 3rd, 2012
10:42 pm

Romney ate Obama, the Chicago Political Thug Machine’s lunch!
No more debate needed. GO AMERICA!

td

October 3rd, 2012
10:45 pm

Chris Matthews and Ed Shultz are about to go into meltdown on MSNBC

DMac

October 3rd, 2012
10:45 pm

Most people want universal health care. All advanced countries of this world have some form of universal care, except the US. We pay twice as much as any other country for our health care. We have the 2nd highest infant mortality rate of advanced countries.

We need universal coverage. To hear the candidates who were shut out of the Obama-Romney debate and hear points of view that O’Romney will not offer, watch the live stream at:
http://www.democracynow.org/

sam

October 3rd, 2012
10:45 pm

lOVED IT. ROMNEY TOOK IT TO HIM, AND CORRECTED A LOT OF HIS LIES. GREAT JOB ROMNEY.

Look before I leap...

October 3rd, 2012
10:45 pm

Will be interesting to see the poll numbers over the next few days. I think Romney will move the needle in his favor.
That said, the economy is Obama’s weakest point and Romney should have been positioned to body slam him. That I did not see.

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:45 pm

On CBS, the reporter assigned to cover Obama tonight said she had not yet received any calls from democratic / Obama headquarters claiming that he won the debate. I guess they saw what I saw and know he lost it.

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:48 pm

DMac…..I think if you talk to people in England and even Canada, you will find that there is definitely no “universal” agreement that what they have is good.

Jod

October 3rd, 2012
10:50 pm

Wow … Lots of crickets on here from the Teleprompter in chief supporters. I didn’t think Romney had it in him, wow I’m surprised. msnbc is about to explode…. Lol

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:51 pm

On MSNBC, that joker Al Sharpton is claiming that Romney did nothing but lie, but Obama is the one who claimed he has saved me as a member of the middle class $3600.00. And THAT is a bald-faced lie.

EasyVote

October 3rd, 2012
10:51 pm

Romney we need a plan not principals!! Wheres the money coming from or these wonderful ideas?? How would you repeal Obamacare? Do you support a voucher program? How would you handle wall street? I’m still waiting for the answers!!! He makes it so easy for President Obama! You already lost 47% of the vote….there goes the other 4%!

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:51 pm

@ Jod….it looks like MSNBC KNOWS that Obama lost, and they are making excuses for it.

endigo

October 3rd, 2012
10:52 pm

Lets FACT check the THINGS that Romney laim is not his PLAN.

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:53 pm

@ EasyVote……you are wrong there. Listen to the Obama kool-aid drinkers on MSNBC, and even they realize that Obama blew it BAD

gy6

October 3rd, 2012
10:54 pm

that was a good oldfashioned ass whuppin thrashin of Jughead O’ Dumbo, soros mancurian puppet.

endigo

October 3rd, 2012
10:54 pm

ROMNEY WAS RUDE! I was in the Bahamas on my 20th anniversary.

EasyVote

October 3rd, 2012
10:55 pm

Where is the money coming from for these tax cuts?! Maybe you heard something I didn’t? How would he replace Obamacare? I really want to know.

Sven Ottke

October 3rd, 2012
10:55 pm

Good grief. Obama got absolutely owned tonight. Embarrassing.