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

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:56 pm

I think Romney’s use of “trickle down government” was a real zinger. Don’t know if that was new or not, but it was good.

Spud

October 3rd, 2012
10:57 pm

I liked the debate format tonight! Let the guys talk. Previous debates seem too canned.

Ted

October 3rd, 2012
10:58 pm

I’m with Krauthammer. Romney won by two touchdowns.

Jod

October 3rd, 2012
10:58 pm

I hope he gets to be the rudest sob out there if that’s what u call rude endigo! It will be case closed if that were the fact.

DMac

October 3rd, 2012
10:58 pm

Actually polling data show that before the debate Obama had a big lead:
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
10:58 pm

@ EasyVote……the money from those tax cuts will come from simultaneous cuts in wasteful spending and added tax flow from people finding employment, rather than receiving welfare (much needed, I am sure) because under Obama, they are unemployed

FSUBrave

October 3rd, 2012
11:00 pm

Romney beat him like corn bread batter…can’t wait for Bidens comedy hour next week…woohoo..GO MITT GO

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
11:01 pm

@ FSUBrave…..Biden has got to be the stupidest man ever to serve as VP. Ryan will pound him into the dirt next week. Hell, I think even I could pound him into the dirt. The man is just DUMB.

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
11:01 pm

@fsdg…You are so right. If you look at Mr. Obama’s speeches from 4 years age, it’s all exactly the same speech, just different suit.

It has not worked for 4 years. If you work in a job for 4 years, and don’t do your job, it’s time to LET YOU GO!!!

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
11:02 pm

AMEN, Quack Quack

zadoc

October 3rd, 2012
11:04 pm

I watched it from start to finish and I can’t tell who won. The moderator got walked on. They both interrupted each other. No one said anything new. No one seemed to fight.

POLL: Who won the first debate?
Vote here: http://bit.ly/1stDebate

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
11:04 pm

@I am the middle class….Biden is so DUMB, he will do something really stupid. I can’t wait.

DMac

October 3rd, 2012
11:04 pm

The health outcomes (generally) are better in countries with single-payer health care. They pay less than half as much as we do for their health care. Why do we persist throwing ever increasing amounts of money at private for-profit health care system? According to a 2003 poll by ABC News/Washington Post 79% of Americans want single-payer health care. Even if it means paying more in taxes.

Atlgal

October 3rd, 2012
11:08 pm

Fyi 47% of americans are poor and moochers! In florida a republican voter told me” i think obama will win and if he does it will teach the republicans a lesson!

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
11:08 pm

@ DMac……have you ever talked to anybody in England about their health care. It is a bureaucratic nightmare.

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
11:09 pm

@zadoc…What debate did you watch? Just because Mr. Obama couldn’t use a teleprompter, I would have expected more from my President than I got. But I have expected more from my President for four years then I have gotten. Now is the time for real CHANGE!!

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
11:11 pm

“than I’

Old timer

October 3rd, 2012
11:12 pm

Keep in mind..he was a lecturer not a prof and by his last year he was at the bottom…by “rate my professor” in his 4th year. So he was not so good at what he did.
Oh for vetting before he became our president..also the only Editor of the Harvard Law Reciew…who NEVER wrote anything….NEVER,….l

I dropped my fried twinkie

October 3rd, 2012
11:13 pm

We just witnessed the 21st century version of this famous Debate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD5uOEpV3zE

a country boy can survive

October 3rd, 2012
11:14 pm

Romney kept his pimp hand strong tonite…zadoc, I don’t know what the hell you were watching…

G-dub

October 3rd, 2012
11:14 pm

People from Canada come to the US for healthcare

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
11:14 pm

LOL @ twinkie

I am in the middle class

October 3rd, 2012
11:15 pm

@ G-dub……EXACTLY !!!!

I dropped my fried twinkie

October 3rd, 2012
11:15 pm

We just witnessed the 21st century version of this famous Debate.
Rocky Marciano v Joe Louis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD5uOEpV3zE

Quack Quack

October 3rd, 2012
11:16 pm

G-dub…And we know why that is!!

Jod

October 3rd, 2012
11:18 pm

Zadoc… Can I have some of that herb you been puffing on. You would have to have been deaf. Wish more debates were like that!

USA vs Hussein Obama

October 3rd, 2012
11:24 pm

USA wins round one. That was absolute OWNAGE

I dropped my fried twinkie

October 3rd, 2012
11:24 pm

Since Obama loves the sport here more

We just saw Tiger at this years Ryder Cup

A White guy just DUNKED in Obama’s Face

Doug Flute v Miami

1980 USA v USSR Olympic hockey

Chipper Jones in his World Series Debut

Since we are in a Depression we saw Seabiscuit v War Admiral

obama

October 3rd, 2012
11:32 pm

Obama shot himself…In the foot.

obama

October 3rd, 2012
11:32 pm

Obama shot himself…In the foot.

obama

October 3rd, 2012
11:32 pm

Obama shot himself…In the foot.

The Grinch

October 3rd, 2012
11:41 pm

Obama kept looking down hoping he’d see his teleprompter…..

td

October 3rd, 2012
11:42 pm

Atlgal

October 3rd, 2012
11:08 pm

Fyi 47% of americans are poor and moochers! In florida a republican voter told me” i think obama will win and if he does it will teach the republicans a lesson!

Really? I just spent a week on the Florida coast and did not talk to one person that is going to vote for Obama. Waitresses, house keepers …. not one. I drove through PCB, Panama city, Destin, Santa Rosa beach and only saw one Obama yard sign and no bumper stickers.

Decatur joe

October 3rd, 2012
11:44 pm

I’m a Den and I have to admit Obama got his ass whipped tonight

Tyre

October 3rd, 2012
11:44 pm

@Gdub: Most people from Canada do NOT come to the USA for health care. Check your facts. That’s just a talking point.

obama

October 3rd, 2012
11:45 pm

Tyre is a bi*th…I got my ass kicked.

Sven Ottke

October 3rd, 2012
11:55 pm

One of my best friends is a Canuck and he says the health care up there sucks out loud!

help barack pack

October 3rd, 2012
11:59 pm

CAN WE CHANGE THE TOPIC, Obama should have stayed home. He was knocked out in the first round and then took a BEATING

Atlgal

October 4th, 2012
12:01 am

@td you went to the poor parts in was in the rich area!

Tyre

October 4th, 2012
12:01 am

I can say the same: one of my good friends is Canadian and she loves their health care system. However, one Canadian out of nearly 35 million doesn’t represent the opinion of the whole country. Nothing’s perfect, but it sure beats our system of pay, go bankrupt, or die.

Atlgal

October 4th, 2012
12:02 am

Poor people always vote for Republicans!! Why is that?

Eleanor Eisenberg

October 4th, 2012
12:11 am

To the surprise of no one, both candidates took the advice of Emily Dickinson: “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant…”

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_PRESIDENTIAL_CAMPAIGN_FACT_CHECK?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2012-10-03-23-17-17

Who Cares?

October 4th, 2012
12:17 am

To quote Dennis Miller, “Obama better hope a Kicked A** is covered under Obamacare.” Now that’s funny right there!

Ray

October 4th, 2012
12:18 am

Other than cutting Big Bird, Romney did not offer a single specific on how his numbers would work without further increasing the deficit.

I dropped my fried twinkie

October 4th, 2012
12:26 am

Ray and what PLAN did Obama Offer in 08 to get him elected other than the words HOPE & Change? Well those words and the Color of his skin.

Romney gave 5 points. It is a Framework because any play will have to be hammered out in Congress. Both sides will have a say so in order to have any Plan pass.

I dropped my fried twinkie

October 4th, 2012
12:27 am

@Ray Romney did say he would cut Big Bird. You really need to learn to listen better.

I dropped my fried twinkie

October 4th, 2012
12:27 am

sorry…………DIDN’T say he would…..

Obama Phone

October 4th, 2012
12:29 am

This shout out goes to Obama Phone lady in Cleveland Ohio. Obama sux and he got owned with an ax whooping. I hope Romneys first days in office he figures out how to throw Obama in jail or the next eighty years in the federal penetitiary to watch the next 10 presidential debates for ignoring Congress the will of the people and the laws of this country.

Thomas Jefferson

October 4th, 2012
12:33 am

We are screwed either way the cookie crumbles people. The last 3 presidential elections have been between two puppets of a higher elite. America needs to stop being complacent and take action. We may not have a country left if we continue to let these lunatics run wild with OUR money. They have corroded the system to it’s breaking point, yet monopoly corporations like J.P. Morgan get free handouts and get out of jail free cards. There are evil people stirring this ship. WE need to wake up as American citizens because if we do not, “all sheep are led to slaughter”. The Constitution is being irradicated chunk by chunk as our economy steers aimlessly into the abyss. When will America rise up and reclaim their freedoms and civil liberties? Not to mention the founding ideas of our country. No “empty suit” will save us. No one person or party can save us. It is written in the 17th chapter of St. Luke that, “The kingdom of God is in man. Not one man or a group of men, but in ALL men.” We the people have the power to make this country and our world free and beautiful. Let’s fight for a world that will give people a chance to work, children a future, and old age a security. When the people fear the government there is tyranny, but when the government fears the poeople, there is democracy. END CORPORATISM and the power elite.

tee

October 4th, 2012
12:34 am

Romney to rude to confidant. Quote facts not ideas of truth!