That moment in the debate when they were discussing financial reforms, and moderator Jim Lehrer cuts off Romney who is again bullying for extra time. Lehrer cuts him off with “let’s not”…the crowd erupts in laughter and the camera pans to Obama who has the biggest, most welcoming smile you can imagine. This moment defined the tone of tonight’s debate.
I’ll admit, Romney scored points by not inadvertently writing-off the other 53% of the country, and by definition, this give him a win tonight. But after not tripping over his own feet, the difference in the tone of the debate was one of style rather than substance. Sadly, most people could care less about substance. Polls confirm this. Both candidates fed the wonks (and I’m among them) with plenty of meat for consumption. What ALL of us could see, was a President and a spoiled child demanding attention at the dinner table.
I’ll admit bias from the gate, but the tone Romney affected was shrill at best, while the President appeared…well…Presidential. It’s a core principle of these debates for the incumbent not to get baited into any emotional arguments and not only did Obama succeed on that point, but he appeared to channel the appearance of a long-suffering, all-knowing parent dealing with an overly emotional petulant child.
Romney’s debate prep team did a good job. He dutifully spouted out a number of homogenized messages, although sometimes at inappropriate times considering the flow of the moment, but overall, he got his message across. He just didn’t look that comfortable doing it. He didn’t look presidential. Hell, he didn’t even look like a C.E.O. in my estimation.
This was Obama’s debate to lose. Romney walked in as a underachiever and an average performance would be exalted as a big win. Realizing this, I was worried that Obama could lose big should he make any significant mistakes. He didn’t and in my estimation won big on both substance and style. This won’t sway Romney’s base just as surely as Romney didn’t sway Obama’s base.
The question is this…did the snarky attitude that Romney displayed play well with the undecided and independents. Did his anti-big government misinformation appeal to that demographic. I don’t know…I don’t think it appealed to them enough to make a difference but I do know this. We Obama supporters CANNOT rest on our laurels and underestimate the stupidity of the electorate. VOTE.