The first presidential debate kicked off last Wednesday evening, Oct. 3, at the University of Colorado in Denver. Jim Lehrer moderated the debate but his attempts to keep Romney and Obama within the speaking time limits and on point was as effective as trying to make a Socialist and a Tea Party supporter best friends. The debate lacked structure and each candidate demonstrated several flaws, which places more drama on the remaining debates.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney came out swinging and relentlessly attacked Obama for the duration of the 80 minute debate. Romney’s mission was clear; he wanted to cause doubt and fear among independent considering a second Obama term.
Romney spoke firmly and directly while constantly looking at Obama, and made powerful statements such as “My number one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that: no tax cut that adds to the deficit.”
Romney also crushed Obama’s record with middle-class Americans stating, “Under the President’s policies, middle-income Americans are getting buried, they’re just being crushed. Middle income Americans have seen their incomes come down by $4,300. This is a tax in and of itself, I’ll call it the economy tax.”
Romney’s attacks were direct and relentless, and I would expect the same from running mate Paul Ryan during Thursday nights’ debate at Center College in Danville, Kentucky.
However, Obama looked disinterested, bored, and unprepared. He was probably irritated that he was debating a 65 year old man on his 20th wedding anniversary rather than having a romantic evening with his wife.
In fact, James Carville, CNN Democratic Analyst, even said, “It seemed like Romney was happy to be there. Obama gave me the impression that the whole thing was kind a lot of trouble.”
MSNBC host Chris Matthews stated, “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 came out with a campaign.” But what effect did the debate have on voter perception?
Romney narrowly closed the gap in the race to the White House. In a pre-debate poll of registered voters conducted by Rasmussen between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, Obama held a five point lead, claiming 50 percent of the vote compared to just 45 percent for Romney. However, a post- debate poll from Oct. 4-6, conducted again by Rasmussen, showed a tied race, with each candidate claiming 47 percent of the registered voters. So will this momentum propel Romney to victory in November?
The short answer is: I doubt it. If Mitt Romney wants to unseat Barack Obama, one of the most inspirational and globally adored Presidents of the United States, then he will have to be honest and actually describe his policies in detail. During the first debate neither happened.
Romney repeatedly claimed in the debate that his across the board 20 percent tax cut was deficit neutral, but this is completely false. It is impossible to eliminate enough loopholes and grow enough to compensate for that much lost revenue. In fact, according to NBC news, Romney’s tax plan would add $4.8 trillion to the U.S. national debt during the next decade.
Furthermore, rather than describing his own green-energy policies during the debate, Governor Romney blatantly lied about Obama’s green-energy loans, saying, “And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business. I think about half of them, of the ones that have been invested in, they’ve gone out of business.” Wrong again, Mitt; actually, the Washington Post finds that businesses that received clean-energy loans failed at a 1.4 percent rate by the end of 2011.
Romney has to be specific and honest about his healthcare, taxes, energy, budget, and foreign affairs policies if he wants any chance to narrow Obama’s lead in key battleground states and ultimately become the 45th President of the United States.
However, his consistent lack of detail and honesty throughout this campaign season and a better than expected Sept. jobs report with unemployment falling to 7.8 percent, leads me to believe that Obama will win re-election, and Romney will have to continue watching the “trickle-down government” from the sidelines.
Aaron Slone, Contributing Writer