by Jack Minor –
While the Obama campaign said they were “pleased” with Obama’s performance during Wednesday’s presidential debate in Denver, media outlets and political pundits on both the left and right agreed that Mitt Romney was the clear victor.
Obama spokesperson Stephanie Cutter appeared to place the blame for his dismal performance on moderator Jim Lehrer for allowing Romney to take swipes at the president, telling CNN, “”I sometimes wondered if we even needed a moderator because we had Mitt Romney.”
Cutter also said the president did a good job during the debate and that Romney was “testy.”
“We feel pretty good about the president’s performance here tonight,” Cutter said. “The American people… saw another guy who got testy, who interrupted the moderator.”
From the opening salvo, Romney came out with bold statements and appeared confident as he looked directly at the president when responding to questions from Lehrer. By contrast Obama frequently looked down at his notes or at Lehrer.
While the debate did not feature any “zingers” such as Ronald Ragan’s famous “there you go again” line, there were attempts by both candidates to inject catch phrases into the debate.
President Obama repeatedly tried to claim that Romney wanted to cut taxes by over $5 trillion. Romney countered with a direct rebuttal stating, “I will not cut taxes on the wealthy.”
As Obama continued to press the $5 trillion tax cut issue, he begrudgingly admitted that the basis for his statement was based on assumptions rather than an actual statement by Romney.
Referring to the president’s statement which he has made repeatedly on the campaign trail that businesses get tax breaks for closing down plants and moving overseas Romney said, “I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.”
When Obama criticized tax breaks for “big oil, ” Romney countered by noting that the majority of those tax breaks go to smaller companies and that the president had approved $90 billion, or 50 years of tax breaks compared to what big oil receives, to green energy companies that contributed to the president’s campaign.
Romney did attempt to use a catch phrase that was taken from Reagan’s policy of “trickle down economics” calling Obama’s policies “trickle down government.”
Following the debate, reaction was nearly universal that Romney walked away with the debate.
Former vice-president Al Gore attempted to blame Obama’s loss on the altitude in Denver.
“Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today — just a few hours before the debate started,” Gore said on Current. “Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust, I don’t know…”
CNN’s James Carville, another Democratic apologist said, “Mitt Romney came in with a chainsaw.”
Even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who once famously said he got a thrill running up his leg over the president expressed frustration with Obama’s performance saying, “I don’t know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. Romney, on the other hand, came in with a campaign. He had a plan, he was going to dominate the time, he was going to be aggressive, he was going to push the moderator around, which he did effectively, he was going to relish the evening, enjoying it.”
Matthews went on to reassure the president that despite his performance, the network was going to continue to defend him.
We have our knives out,” Matthews said, “We go after the people and the facts. What was he doing tonight? He went in there disarmed.”