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

My vote has not changed...

October 4th, 2012
9:37 am

That debate did not change my mind as to who I’m voting for. I will vote for President Obama. It just proved how ignorant and out of touch Mitt really is.

alex

October 4th, 2012
9:39 am

Personally, Ilike a president being boastful,aggressive,acting like a “man in the arena” think T.R.
I hope that our president , if re-elected will be a bit more forceful, mediocrity/passivity is not a laudable trait.

Pandora

October 4th, 2012
9:39 am

Member of a fading nation: You are such a fool..it is so obvious you are. Obama will win. I bet you couldn’t understand ANYTHING I said…It goes to show your ignorance…OBAMA 2012 :)

Revit

October 4th, 2012
9:39 am

We saw and heard what a real US President should be like last night to grow Americas’ middle class and job creators, and it wasn’t obama. Seeing all the radical left wing lap dogs with all their long faces was priceless. Glad I recorded the debate.

OldGrunt

October 4th, 2012
9:41 am

After seeing the lack of performance from Obama, can now understand why our GDP is worse now than it was two years ago; why we have had over 8% unemployment for over 43 months; why our foreign policy is in shambles; why we are seeing our culture and society dropping further; and Obama’s solution is CLASS WARFARE and INCREASED TAXES. Get the distinct impression that Obama is basically intellectually LAZY, and it showed last night! We need a new leader!!

Romney 2012

October 4th, 2012
9:44 am

All of you Obama supporters on here are EXACTLY what he was talking about when he made the 47% remark. Now he may have his % wrong BUT h is exactly right that there are folks out there that will vote for Obama not mater what facts they have before them. I feel sorry for you if you cant see the true facts that are in front of you. Gas prices…..doubled under Obama…..when gas was 1.80 a gallon under Busch the Dems said it was Busch helping his oil buddies get rich. Well it has doubled since then and it is AMAZING you here nothing from the dems on gas prices now.

Member of a fading nation

October 4th, 2012
9:51 am

@pandora – typical Obama supporter. You cant name ONE thing he has done to make things better. Well, I’ll name a few that has made this country WORSE!

1) Highest sustained unemployment rate since the great depression
2) Longest sustained period of stagnant growth in our GNP
3) Our credit rating has been lowered for the first time in history
4) 6 TRILLION more in debt (Didn’t he call Bush unpatriotic for increasing the debt 5B in 8 years?)
5) Billions spent on nw bankrupt companies
6) He lied about the total cost of Obamacare. 780B a year? My ass, try 1.7 Trillion!!!
7) Companies hoarding cash and not hiring because of his policies. They don’t want to hire because it will cost them more.
8) US Economic freedom ranking went for 3rd in the world to 18th, In three years!!
9) Highest gas prices in history
10) The U.S. now has the HIGHEST corporate taxes in the world, forcing companies to move over seas and now he wants to raise that even higher.
11) The worlds view of the US has gone from respect and admiration to pity and laughable.
12) 17 Million more people on foodstamps

Want me to go on….????

Now, you tell me what good he’s done. You can’t You’re just voting for him because you believe the lies that he tells. Did he pay your mortgage for you? Did he fill up your gas tank? How’s that working out for ya?

Al

October 4th, 2012
9:56 am

Obama was lost without the teleprompter. His closing statement was nothing but a bunch of babbling.
Why wouldn’t Obama look at Romney when speaking?

For all you Obama lovers, Obama will go down as one of the worst presidents in history!! The national debt has increased more in his 4 yrs. in office that in Bush’s entire 8 yrs.

Romney\Ryan in 2012!!

Bob

October 4th, 2012
9:59 am

Shouln’t the headline be “Governor VS the lecturer” ? This is another lie, Obama was not a professor, he was a guest lecturer.

Stand Up Now!!

October 4th, 2012
10:00 am

@GrannyCares…Four years ago, we all listened with interest to the story of Hope & Change. I was so proud of the American voters to elect an African American as our president.

Four years later, we are still hearing the same thing. Mr. Obama wants four more years to lead our country. He has not done his job for the first four years. I don’t know about you, but I’m in much worse shape than I was four years ago. If you watch his speeches from four years ago, he is saying the exact same words, just wearing a different suit.

If you’ve had a job for four years, and you have not done your job, then it is time to let you go.

alex

October 4th, 2012
10:01 am

Can we get some opinions of people who were/are undecided before the debate;please no fakes-it will likely be obvious…..

Bob

October 4th, 2012
10:07 am

If the Obama economy is so strong why are they asking defense contractors to ignore the W.A.R.N. act ? And the act was passed by congress, shouldn’t Obama work with congress if he wanted to end this act ? And why should we borrow money from China to defend these companies when they are taken to court for breaking the law, pathetic ! If Obama had a real plan he would not have to ask employers to break the law in order to hide unemployment numbers.

Gary

October 4th, 2012
10:14 am

Romney looked and acted presidential. I was waiting for the moment when Obama was going to say, “Aw, to hell with this, I don’t want to be president anymore.” And, you know what, after flailing around with the government for 4 years like he did during the debate, he dosen’t deserve 4 more years as president.

Obama is dishonest

October 4th, 2012
10:19 am

People complaining about the moderator are simply upset because the ultra left wing moderators usually mold the debate in a manner which helps the Democrat and hurts the Republican………this debate was mostly unaffected. This was refreshing!

Both candidates were allowed to talk; if anything Obama talked too long way too much (he ended with a little more than 4 minutes more talk time).

Obama wanted the moderator to help him more and did not get the help he wanted! Obama was exposed as a liar and had a difficult time defending/touting his VERY poor record over the past 3+ years!!!!!!!!!

Obama needs his telepromter for the next two elections (this way his staff can help him with his spin & lies).

An observer

October 4th, 2012
10:20 am

Georgians will be proud on November 6 when the state votes its electoral votes for Romney. Those states that vote for Obama will have it on their conscience that they voted for an inept candidate who has demonstrated his incompetence and now promises four more years of malaise because he has no ideas and no leadership skills.

Member of a fading nation

October 4th, 2012
10:20 am

@Pandora – I’m still waiting for all these good things you say he’s done. It’s been 30 minutes…. tick-tock, tick-tock.

Actually, your silence says it all. Thanks for proving me right.

A B Normal

October 4th, 2012
10:22 am

Obama = stiff, arrogant, detached. Looked like he would rather be getting a dermabrasion treatment with a belt sander.
Romney = Fellow Americans it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the next President of the United States. Done deal.

Mark

October 4th, 2012
10:24 am

All the theatrics and performing in the world is not going to save Romney’s sinking tank. The President will still win the White House for another 4 years.

RynoRedhawk

October 4th, 2012
10:34 am

I won’t rate the debate or praise Romney but the President’s problem from Day 1 is more evident than ever. He hires terrible people to work for and support him.

The people who were responsible for helping the President to prepare for this debate should be fired, effective 8:00am this morning. He was under prepared and disinterested. Romney’s team was looking like a well run business. Lean, direct, effective and accurate.

The 2nd Presidential Debate is the infamous “Town Hall” format. I expect both candidates to have much different approaches. It isn’t time driven, it’s personality based. Govenor Romney will have to be softer and slower in his answers as the President is great in these informal settings.

LW

October 4th, 2012
10:38 am

What was THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? I hate to say it, but there’s just no way to defend Pres. Obama’s appearance last night.

Romney was already in the coffin; all BO had to do was throw romney’s own dirt onto himself and bury him.

Both avoided tough answers or some facts, but the prez didn’t do anything he should have, and could have, done. What happened!!? He looked inept, ill-prepared, lacked enthusiasm/energy. Colossal missed opportunity.

The president was absent. His arrogance [again]. Unbelievable failure. Get ready for a wide swing in the polls. Pathetic.

Plus, since the economy is coming back (yes, under Obama), if Romney wins and the economy continues to improve, he’ll get two terms and Hillary can forget it. I know Bill Clinton must be ticked.

Dina

October 4th, 2012
10:58 am

Yes, Mr. Romney had a great performance last night. However, that will not erase from my memory the last 4 years of actions and reactions since President Obama won in November 2008.
“What proceeds from you will return to you.”

philman

October 4th, 2012
11:19 am

Romney is becoming a democrat!!! He has always been a democrat but he did not know…

Bill Gullion

October 4th, 2012
11:20 am

Why does the Atlanta Journal Constitution run its internet headline story on Jim Lehrer and not on the fact that Romney swamped Obama in the first debate? Typical, typical liberal newspaper thought process. Protect the Democrat ignore the Republican when he does well! All I can say is you newspaper men better start looking for other jobs. There won’t be an Atlanta Journal Constitution five years from now. Your liberal thinking is going to drive the paper out of business! Peopl are tired of your progressive BS.

philman

October 4th, 2012
11:24 am

Bill- You need to realize that Mitt is a democrat since last night debate…a true democrat!!

RGB

October 4th, 2012
11:44 am

“Plus, since the economy is coming back….”

I’ll bet you’re pro-medical marijuana….or even non-medical marijuana.

alex

October 4th, 2012
11:48 am

@LW, pithy review; I think he will do better in the next “town hall” format. I do not support the President for reelection, but if he is, I hope that he has more drive,determination,and intensity than he showed last night. If ‘what proceeds….’has any basis in reality, today-after last night-, the President is a vacuum

philman

October 4th, 2012
12:07 pm

RGB – Are you OK? Just checking…

MotorMouthRomRom

October 4th, 2012
12:49 pm

The only thing Romney did was talk over everyone. He even kept interrupting the moderator. My dad us to say people who talk that fast and over others are usually trying to outrun their own lies and hope everyone else are too dumb to notice the lies.

guy

October 4th, 2012
12:53 pm

Neither one,like the rest of our wonderful politicians,ever mentioned cutting spending.There has to be pain before any gain and we don’t have a leader with the backbone to say it. Still,anything is better than obama. He’s lost without someone telling him or writing down what he needs to say.This country is in poor condition!

Carol

October 4th, 2012
12:58 pm

I was disappointed in the President’s performance. He didn’t come back on some issues that were just lobbed into his lap. He started the night out with his usual stump talking points. I was hoping that was going to be the worst of it, but unfortunately, it was not.

Lo

October 4th, 2012
1:14 pm

To the untrained eye, Miitt looks like the best thing happening. But for those of you who know smoke when you see it,don’t be fooled. This man is only in it to help those in his circle. Not you or me! Ask him to tell his friends to bring those jobs back from India, Phillipines and the other countries and see how fast the economy recovers. Also for those of you who have all tthe answers, do something about it.

Chris

October 4th, 2012
1:16 pm

EasyVote -

You should have paid attention. He said he’d repeal Obamacare, and put the 700 Billion dollars Obama took from Medicare and put it back in, and then let states regulate the care. He was quite detailed with his answer.

Chris

October 4th, 2012
1:31 pm

NuBN247 -

It’s very clear why you will vote for Obama. We all know it has nothing to do with qualification or his record, either.

1American

October 4th, 2012
1:36 pm

Can anyone help me here? Did Obama say that Romney wanted to cut 5 TRILLION in taxes? Which is 20% of all taxes? Is that number correct?

Chris

October 4th, 2012
1:46 pm

Lo -
Please enlighten the entire county with your Jedi eye training.

Motormouth -
Maybe you and your dad are just too slow to keep up. By the way, both Obama and Romney interrupted the moderator and each other.

philman -
Call him whatever you want, but at least admit he won the debate. He ran a state with 83% democrats in the house of reps. He knows how to work as a bipartisan. Obama would rather blame the other side than work with them.

Dina -
Yes, you and many others will vote blindly. It’s OK. Enough of us are listening and will vote for the right leader of our country. Right now, our country does not have a leader.

Gorilla Biscuit

October 4th, 2012
2:17 pm

Obama just got gorilla stomped. Gorilla stomped I tell you!!