From TPM Reader VL …
Just quickly here because I’m in low health and barely had the stomach for my own quivering nerves on a night like this …. but yes, totally agree with you - O was low energy, quite obviously unprepared, and Mitt beat him hands down. I was completely prepared for Romney to win tonight, - given that O is a poor debater and this first one was on domestic policy. But it was worse than I’d hoped for.
I agree with you that some of Mitt’s statements will play poorly in the coming days, but I think there was no advantage for O not taking him to task on them immediately. O had a couple good lines like “Romney’s big idea was never mind” and “first day” but where was 47%. Where was the auto industry? He didn’t get passionate about his health plan, energy plan, jobs plan, the auto industry - none of it. He barely looked at Romney. He was long winded and stuttering as always. It hurt me that he let Mitt hit him on not being bipartisan.
I got the feeling that O didn’t really prepare at all, and figured he’d take it as it came. Didn’t have any zingers prepared, any passionate arguments to make, just figured he’d use the array of facts and wit at his command. But he’s not sound bitey enough of a person to pull that off (Gingrich could). It’s easy to hit the President on a weak economy because it is weak. But Obama could have done a much more proactive job talking about his record and projecting to the future.
On another point, Romney went all lefty tonight. Suddenly he doesn’t want a 5 trillion dollar tax cut, he’s into regulation, loves Arnie Duncan, wants to keep Social Security exactly as is and is criticizing Obama for leaning up Medicare! Is this the last Etch-A-Sketch?
Tonight was Mitt’s last chance to get into the race, and he accomplished that. We’ll see polls tighten. Hopefully Obama will have more fire in the next one. Given that it’s foreign policy, I think he’ll be in a good position.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.