1st Presidential Debate Preview
October 3, 2012 17 Comments
Now that we’ve gotten over the silliness of Hannity, Carlson and Drudge, we can start focusing on tonight’s Presidential debate. This is a make or break night for Mitt Romney. He either lands punches on Obama and wins this debate or it’s all over. There could be no better topic for him tonight than domestic issues. The topic alone will allow Romney to attack Obamacare and Obama’s economic policy all while presenting his own alternative vision. These debates aren’t so much debates as they are joint press interviews. In that format, Romney had best come out swinging otherwise Obama and the media will tag team him and the race will be over.
If Romney can’t beat Obama on domestic issues then he shouldn’t be President and he shouldn’t have been the GOP nominee. No doubt the moderator will spend 20-30 minutes on Obama talking points like contraception. You know, issues that aren’t relevant but allow Obama to not talk about the economy for a few minutes. Which of course means every minute Romney discusses the economy will be even more important. He has to hammer home the pathetic 1.3% second quarter growth as unacceptable. He has to point out the 13% decline in orders of durable goods last month. He has to talk about unemployment and the lack of new jobs. He has to hammer Obama for his poor handling of the economy and not allow him to get away with blaming Bush.
Obamacare is sure to come up and we all know how unpopular Obamacare is with the voting public. Romney needs to hammer away at all of the absurd tax increases Obamacare will provide us with. He needs to explain what his alternative is. He needs to tell the public why it would be better for us to be able to buy health policies over state lines. He needs to attack Obama for raising taxes on 6 million middle class Americans, averaging over $1,000 thanks to the Obamacare tax. If Romney can’t make these points tonight, he’ll never be able to make them.
Prepare to be disappointed tonight. Even though debates tend to aid the challenger over the incumbent the fact is we haven’t seen a debate really matter since 1980. There have been “moments” since then but nothing that changed the race. Presumably neither candidate will pull an Admiral Stockdale and ask ‘who am I and what am I doing here.’ Absent some bizarre moment like Al Gore in 2000 getting to within a couple of feet of Bush during their last debate while looking menacing, we won’t even remember this debate by the weekend much less years later. If that’s the case Obama wins hands down. Think about it, do you remember anything from the 2004 debate or the 1996 debate? The less you remember about tonight this weekend, four years from now or sixteen years from now the more likely it is Obama wins.
At this point I don’t believe Romney has what it takes to beat Obama. He has all the issues lined up perfectly for him but he isn’t the sort of candidate who will lay them out with a sunny optimism. For whatever reason, when Romney talks about a sunny future for America it comes off as a show. He believes it but he just isn’t the sunny optimistic type and so it comes off as a put on. But we need a sunny, optimistic candidate tonight to defeat a President who has utterly failed at his job. Romney isn’t up to the task. His best bet tonight is a draw, which he’ll get if he can fend off Obama’s absurd Bain attacks. Unfortunately anything short of a win dooms his campaign.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has a post up about what Romney needs to do to win. He makes some sound arguments. In the end, we need to know what a Romney administration will look like. If we don’t know by the end of tonight we’ll never know because the public isn’t going to elect someone who can’t articulate what they’re going to do as President.