What to expect from tonight's debate? Will there be penetrating questions from the audience? Will Candy Crowley be an active participant? Will Romney relate to people or be his usual tone deaf self? Will Romney come across as phony---all too easy given his wild changes in position, desire to tell people only what they want to hear and inability to offer specifics for his policies? Will Obama go after Romney for all that he left on the table in the last debate? Will we see energy and passion from the president? T minus 20 minutes.
Tonight's debate should be interesting but I have to confess I am not a fan of the "Townhall" format. It gives the moderator too much influence over what questions will be asked and perpetuates the fiction that the audience represents America's undecided voters. If you're undecided in this election and you're in Hempstead, N.Y.--on Long Island, the home base of former U.S. Sen. Al D'Amato--you are probably a Democrat who isn't really sure they want to sign up for four more years of Obama. If we really wanted to hear from swing voters, why not have the debate in a swing state--where the undecided bloc of voters could determine the outcome of the election.
It would improve the debate to kick it off with the guy who does the "Let's get ready to rumble" announcing the candidates. It is television, after all.
In the pre-debate spin, former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi makes a very solid point about how the president needs this debate to win back women. Before the first debate, Obama had a healthy lead among women. After the first debate Romney has been closing, and Vice President Joe Biden didn't help reverse the trend. The president needs to reassure women that he is in their corner, which he can do tonight. But if he is too aggressive--and the Obama camp has telegraphed that he will be more aggressive than he was in Denver--he risks alienating them even further.
Here we go, both sides have worked the referee plenty and are rearing to go. I always wonder what the candidates say to one another before these debates.
I've noted it before but you can tell Romney's team drilled hard into him to make sure to reference specific people he's met (in the case of his first question someone in Pennsylvania).
Romeny: Keep the Pell grant program growing? Not with his budget plan.
Obama takes the first shot of the night with his reference to Romney saying that Detroit should be allowed to go bankrupt.
Mitt Romney with good first response to a student with a great last name, Epstein, but unusual spelling--Epshteyn is the way to go! President Obama unquestionably had a Red Bull before the debate.
Talking about manufacturing jobs to a kid wondering what he's going to do after college is a bit off the point. In the first question the president has come up against the hard reality of the economy he has created.
Boris just stole my line about the president throwing back a Red Bull before the debate!
If Candy Crowley is going to ask follow up questions she needs to be more precise and to the point.
Most independent economists estimate that if we stay on the current course for the next four years the economy will create ... 12 million new jobs.
I agree with Peter ... going into energy policy with a guy facing graduation in 2014 seems canned and feels like a dodge. Romney's already doing what he did last time, which is convincing voters he's a viable alternative to Obama. The genie's out of the bottle.
President Obama is going too negative--the wrong message. People want to see a more energized president, not an angrier, nastier president.
What was the first question? President Obama seems to have prepared answers and is going to say them no matter the question.
Romney's answer to the Detroit question was muddled; Obama's was sharper and then he smartly pivoted to a larger point about Romney's philosophy. He needs to drive the point about how Romney would let the wealthy play by a different set of rules.
Romney scores by reminding people the real unemployment rate is over 10 percent. The president falls back on his 2008 talking points, blaming the other guy, rather than talking about his record. On energy, the president is being dishonest when he claims credit for the increases in oil and natural gas production which has all happened despite what the federal government has done on his watch, not because of it.
By the way who is this Obama guy and where was he during the first debate?
Again President Obama specifically did not answer the question that was asked. Mitt Romney scoring points on the private/public land distinction--the specifics are playing well.
Under Obama the federal government is doing more to help Brazil cultivate its energy resources than it is to help the United States. The gulf is still closed. Permitting is still down. Coal plants are closing. This is not an all of the above energy policy.
World demand is down. The world is suffering from a recession. It means lower demand for energy. The president is wrong.
Candy's obviously been listening to Boris on the issue of answering the question. But they both know well that answering the question you want to answer rather than the one you're asked is media training 101.
Aggressive attack by President Obama on Governor Romney again, interesting to see how Governor Romney responds. Does seem that President Obama is too negative.
It is getting heated! President Obama does not answer the direct question.
Anyone who thought these guys weren't going to go after one another in front of a live audience was dead wrong. Romney on energy---big time nonsense. Obama needs to take him to task. Lawsuits over birds? He is the truth teller in this debate. Perfect come back on Romney on coal, pointing out he engaged in a publicity stunt in Massachusetts to shut down a plant. Consistent Obama versus new guy Romney.
Romney breaks it down to the essential point: the proof of whether the strategy is working is the price at the pump.
"If policies are working--you will see price of energy come down."
So high gas prices mean that the economy is strong? This makes no sense.
I'm watching on CNN where they have the live dial test showing how viewers are reacting in real time to what's being said. If the line goes up they like what they're hearing, if it goes down they don't like it. What I've never understood is how to read it when the line goes down when one candidate goes negative (or comparative, depending on your point of view)--are they reacting badly to the pol going negative or are they reacting badly because they're disappointed to learn the bad information about the other guy?
Obama saying he's "all for pipelines" isn't credible given his Keystone decision. Just not believable.
Romney is doing a good job countering the charges being leveled by the president.
The numbers on Romney's tax plan just don't obey the laws of mathematics. The wealthy don't get enough in deductions to cover the cost of his tax cut, meaning that in order to pay for it he'd have to take away so many middle class deductions that the middle class would end up having a tax hike. He can't do everything he claims.
Romney is lying through his teeth on taxes and acting like a bully--much less appealing than even I would have thought!
Even if Obama did cut taxes for middle income families by $3,600 they are still about $1,000 behind on the lost income alone, never mind the increase in the price of food, gasoline, and other essentials.
What people fail to understand about the Romney tax plan, as i wrote today on the Thomas Jefferson Street blog, is that in a growing economy federal revenues go up as things begin to improve. The economy is not static--it is dynamic. A bigger economy generates more revenue at lower rates. Kennedy proved it. Reagan proved it.
Obama plays the hate and envy card--and we get the first appearance of Big Bird in the debate.
Obama is performing much better in this debate than he did in Denver. Not sure it is going to help. Especially if someone asked, "Mr. President, you spend an awful lot of time talking about what Mitt Romney is going to do. What are you going to do in a second term?"
Romney gets a solid hit on whose math doesn't really add up. He has a record he can stand on. Obama has a record he has to run from.
Obama is ripping Romney on his tax plan--putting it to him as a "businessman"--this is like nailing jello to the wall. Mitt Romney's plan is a disaster and everyone who has looked at it knows it.
I can't say this enough. Romney's tax plan does not obey the rules of math. It just doesn't add up. And not only was his statement that "of course it adds up" a lie, it was a condescending lie.