Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

After the debate, Romney told Jim Lehrer how to drive home

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Here’s a tip in life. When you go to some political gathering like the Patch.com debate party at the Rosebud theater, sit up front. That’s where the cool kids sit.

From where I was sitting in the theater, I thought former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney turned in a very strong performance. He took control of the debate, and even assumed the role of debate moderator as well as candidate. If I had any concern about his performance, it was that he ran the risk of appearing too pushy. But his command of the facts was there and the way he corrected the record made him appear to be more knowledgeable than the president without sounding whiny.

Debates tend to help the well-prepared challenger because, regardless of format, the challenger is put on an equal footing with the incumbent. On Wednesday night we saw Romney take full advantage of that opportunity. He didn’t win because of well placed one-liners and a likable personality. Romney won because he looked and sounded like he could be president tomorrow and actually turn this country around.

Four years ago the test for then-Senator Barack Obama at the first debate was could he carry himself well enough to be considered presidential material. Against Senator John McCain and with the backdrop of an impending fiscal crisis, Obama was able to pass that test and eventually win the election.

If the Barack Obama we saw tonight had been the candidate at the debate four years ago, we would have been watching McCain up there tonight defending his first four years in office. Even the president’s opening lines about his wedding anniversary seemed too scripted and forced. Romney actually sounded more animated about Obama’s marriage than Obama.

I had a fear going into tonight’s debate that it would remind me of President George H.W. Bush’s disastrous performance in 1992. But instead of Romney wishing the debate was over, I kept waiting for President Obama to look at his watch. Romney was ready to go all night… and the next four years.

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