If this year’s series of presidential debates was likened to a three-round prize fight, most ringside judges would have given round one, by a wide margin, to challenger Mitt Romney.
The champion’s trainers gave their fighter, President Obama, quick instructions on how to take the fight to the challenger, and he came out for the second round more aggressively. This round was much closer and the score cards probably gave Obama a slight, very slight, advantage.
Both combatants got in some telling blows on Tuesday, but there were no knockdowns or serious injuries.
Now the debate contest moves to the final round Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.
In many ways, an incumbent enjoys an advantage because there is the prestige of the president’s office, the three-plus years of national and international exposer and the ability to try to control or manage the news.
However, this also can be a serious handicap, and, in Obama’s case, his record during the past three-plus years is not good. In fact, it is bad.
Consequently, both the president, and his vice president, have the challenge of trying to defend their poor record by diverting attention from the arguments of former Gov. Romney. Added to the negatives of high unemployment, record national debt, record number of Americans on food stamps and other embarrassing negative economic indicators, Obama now has to try to explain the lack of security and deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed. So far, the explanation by Obama and his senior aides has been confusing, misleading and not truthful.
Numerous observers said it is likely those who already have decided for whom they will vote were not persuaded to change their minds by Tuesday’s debate. However, a focus group of undecided or independent voters in Las Vegas, who watched the debate on television, surprisingly said Romney won the debate.
It is clear Obama’s “trainers” had prepared their champion well, even to the point of having him perched on his stool, fully alert, paying attention to every word Romney offered in his presentations and ready to spring forward to answer the bell whenever there was an opening in the debate. In the first debate, Obama was listless, didn’t appear to be fully engaged and not well prepped.
Also, he took a page from Vice President Biden’s playbook and frequently interrupted and challenged Romney’s assertions.
Romney seemed a bit unsure during the first part of the debate but gained strength as the 90-minute debate progressed. Obama was steady during the entire exercise and, although he had hoped to land a knockout or seriously damaging blow, he was unable to put away his challenger.
Unfortunately, viewers and listeners didn’t learn anything new during the debate. Is there any reason to believe anything new will surface in Monday’s debate?
Whom should the public believe? Who would be the best president for the country for the next four years? What will determine how a genuine undecided, independent voter will vote?
Is the country better off today than it was four years ago, and has Obama delivered on his promises and the “changes” he called for in seeking the office four years ago? What are the chances his record will be any better in another four years if he should be re-elected?
Independent, currently undecided voters can play an almost unprecedented, important role in what happens to this country not only for the next four years but for many more years to come.
How will they vote on Nov. 6?