The presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y., Tuesday night mirrored the contours of this presidential race: Dead even. The Brody File calls it a TIE.
President Obama came out much more aggressive and was assertive throughout. It’s like someone gave the POTUS a five-hour Energy Drink before the debate. He was very sharp and didn’t let an opportunity go by to call out Romney on all sorts of issues.
He was most effective when he stressed how he is not playing politics with what happen at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi. You may not agree with him on that point, but for a man who typically does not get too emotional, he got very serious, stern and demonstrative when pointing out that to Romney.
However, part of the problem for President Obama is he still doesn’t have a succinct coherent economic plan for the next four years. It’s still a “more of the same approach” and the lack of a substantive message hurts him with voters.
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As for Mitt Romney, this had all the trappings of a disaster for him but he didn’t crumble. The expectations were very high going in (after his buffo Denver appearance). A town-hall format isn’t the best one for Romney because it exposes one of his weaknesses, which is looking comfortable and relating to people one-on-one. Yet he looked relatively relaxed and was equally as aggressive with the president, even at one point telling him that, “You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking."
He didn’t let President Obama get away with his set of facts on drilling for oil on federal lands. Additionally, he was deft to point out that Obama’s line about creating five million jobs is empty because five million jobs have also been lost during his tenure. Overall, Romney is at his best when dissecting and dismantling Obama’s economic record these last four years.
He is so comfortable in this area that it may be enough to win him the presidency. However, Romney missed a big opportunity when it came to the conversation about Libya. He seemed a bit incoherent when making his dispute. There wasn’t a straight line of argument anywhere to be found.
Furthermore, President Obama said that the day after the speech in the Rose Garden he did call the Embassy attack in Benghazi a terrorist incident but actually the transcript shows that he called the incident an “attack.” The words, “act of terror” were also in the transcript but it’s very murky if he was really referring to the incident itself.
Plus, the president never called it a terrorist attack in his U.N. speech a couple weeks later. Romney could have pounced on all of this but he didn’t. It was a missed opportunity. He’ll get another shot at the foreign policy centered debate in Florida next week. He better have his act together there.
Overall though, a TIE for Romney is a good night. This makes two straight debates where Romney looked presidential, strong, and articulate. Meanwhile, the president got his groove back in Long Island and stopped the bleeding from Denver.
Still, my sense is this next debate in Boca Raton on Monday is really going to be crucial because the Benghazi attack is going to be front and center and that has the potential to be a MAJOR problem for Obama if Romney litigates it correctly.
He will have a real chance to inflict some serious damage if he comes ready to enunciate the micro argument on the embassy attack and the macro argument on Obama’s foreign policy.
In essence, he gets a do-over in a few days. He’s going to need it.