Friday, October 5, 2012

Questions From Belgium Journalist Watching Our Presidential Debate for First Time

I recently spoke to a group of eight Belgium journalists about the election.  One followed up with post-debate e-mail questions concerning the effect of the debate.

Q:  Your take?  Do you agree with most of the pundits/commentaries that President Obama lost the debate, and why?

A:  Mitt Romney won due to having lower expectations and exceeding them. People thought he would lose.
  • Debates are mostly about looks, tone and presence.  Romney was confident and in control of the stage.
  • He was forceful, but not too aggressive.
  • He addressed his negatives (mentioned the middle class repeatedly, defended his tax plan and challenged Obama on his).
  • Obama was not energized and missed many opportunities.
Q:  What will be the impact on the campaign(s)?  In your view, what should the Obama campaign do to re-bounce and get grip again? Could this “bad” performance have a silver lining; a.k.a., to fire up grassroots to GOTV and avoid complacency?

A:  The impact is not clear, but it stopped the views of commentators that the race is over.  It provided Romney room to go on the offensive.  But, it’s late and many people have decided and some are voting.  Also, Obama commentary and spin analysts are deconstructing the debate to help Obama make up some ground.

Obama will stay aggressive and busy until the next debate and be better prepared for it.  The Republican base will be the most fired up, but Obama partisans will feel more urgency.

Q:  Do you think Mitt Romney has washed away negative perceptions since “47 percent” incident with his stronger performance?  In your view, how do you see his campaign evolve?

A:  Obama missed an opportunity with the “47%,” but has it in his advertising.  He can use it in the town hall debate, but Romney has at least made the case he is concerned about the middle class.  The town hall debate will likely bring up social issues, which benefits Obama.

Romney now has a chance to use the next two debates to keep the race close.  His debate performance would make a good commercial.

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