Initially, I was ready to call this debate a “clear win” for Mitt Romney… and I still think it was. But one has to wonder if things are always as they seem. So let’s take a moment to examine the situation from all sides.
After a hideous summer, Mitt Romney is LONG overdue for some good press. Standing on stage with the President of the United States will give that to you. The only way Romney could have actually suffered after the first debate is if he had been decimated. Clearly, that didn’t happen from either candidate, and it wasn’t anyone’s goal. The knock-down, drag-out punches that fire up either side of the political base also isolates the political middle. Giving Romney’s views legitimacy not only shows respect for the GOP faithful, but cuts down the arguments that Obama is an out-of-touch, lefty socialist. Notice that hardly anyone in the Conservative blogosphere is bantering about “Obama socialism” today.
You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, right? Treat.
Romney’s gargantuan gaffes aside, he has tried to run a relatively safe campaign when it comes to the big stuff… so safe that he won’t talk about it. Obama has made some rather risky moves. His support for same-sex marriage and deferred action for the DREAMers still make some members of the Democratic party uneasy. Beyond how he treats Romney, that is a delicate needle that the President still must tread. But the Governor put very, very few specifics on the table for how he would achieve his policy goals. And the few cuts that he did spell out… you know like Big Bird… haven’t gone over so well.
Lest we forget, President Obama’s debate prep partner is John Kerry. Mr. Kerry has a unique view in this process as the only person in recent memory that was beaten by an incumbent President. He also understands the process of the debates, and other factors that are already at play. Back in 2004, Mr. Kerry handily won his first debate against George W. Bush, but then went on to lose the election. By debate time, much of the damage to Kerry’s image as a perilous war hero had already been done in the infamous “swift boat” ads. It’s quite possible that this first debate is straight out of the 2004 playbook.
Already today, we’ve seen some rather stark contrasts between the Obama and Romney campaigns. The first thing the President did after the debate? Come out swinging. He gave a rousing rally to Denver supporters, and practically said everything that we wished he would have said the night before… including the infamous “47 percent” comment. Pure coincidence? Or Trick?
Contrast that with the Romney campaign, After making history in his first debate for the Presidency, Mitt Romney’s campaign staff is back to an established pattern of making really sophomoric mistakes. Instead of capitalizing on the candidate’s strengths from last night, one of the first videos they release is in defense of Romney’s tax plan. They cite the American Enterprise Institute as an “Independent, Non-Partisan” organization. The campaign is basking in the glow of a “clear win”… that’s means they’ve let their guard down, and have become vulnerable.
Sometimes even the sweetest of treats can lead to a Trap.