Mitt Romney came out loaded for bear in the first debate last night (Oct 3, 2012). He was animated, full of information, and fully energized.
President Obama, on the other hand, appeared passive, disengaged.
On Facebook, I kept a running list of comments going during the debate. Early on I said Romney was kicking butt, and repeated it later. That was my perception, and all of the pundits pretty much agreed with me. (Not that they were reading my Facebook feed.)
It also appeared to me that Romney was hogging much more air time. But this morning I learned that, according to the persons keeping the game clock, Obama spoke over four minutes more than Romney did–42:40 for Obama, 38:14 for Romney. I would never have guessed that. So I’m wondering what shaped my perception. Maybe, because I found Obama’s turns so dull, I was tuning him out, checking email, or using the opportunity to go to the fridge. Or, more likely, doing a Facebook update.
I did find Romney’s aggressive style to be off-putting. It annoyed me, the way he steamrolled the moderator, and forced his way into the foray. But I don’t find many other people bothered by that.
Will Romney’s performance matter? It certainly will help at least some. But the electorate is very polarized, with minds already made up. Maybe it’ll move the needle, but maybe not.
The pressure is on Biden now. If both ends of the Republican ticket prevail, that won’t go well for the incumbents. I do expect Obama to do much better in the town hall format. They will both be interacting with everyday people, rather than going at each other. Clearly, going at each other face to face is a format where Romney excels.
That, unfortunately for Obama, will also be the format for the final debate. However, the subject is foreign policy, which (in my book) is a glaring weakness for Romney and a strength for Obama. But Romney obviously prepares very, very thoroughly. I much prefer Obama’s view of the world and generally like his stewardship of foreign affairs. Whereas some of Romney’s statements, especially his sabre-rattling regarding Iran (he sometimes has seemed to really want to get into a war with Iran) seriously concerns me.
But we’ll see. I would predict, at this point, that Romney will win that final debate as well. And then it’s just a couple weeks until people vote.