Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The day after the first presidential debate, Obama went on the campaign trail and lamented how he encountered a "different" Mitt Romney than the one who campaigned during the primaries.  He was attempting to imply (clumsily, in my opinion) that this new Romney, and his sudden turn towards the center, was the reason he did so poorly in that debate.  After last night, Obama may want to lend that campaign speech to Mitt Romney, for Romney certainly encountered a "different" President Obama than the one who phoned it in during their first debate.

After the first debate I blogged that Obama had all of the facts on his side, but didn't seem to have the passion needed to make his case.  Last night he made up for that shortcoming quite adequately.  He not only had the facts on his side, he brought the passion.  He brought the agression.  Folks, he brought the "angry Black man" to the debate.  Obama came out swinging, got in Romney's face, fact-checked Romney's lies, and at one point even scolded Romney when talking about Libya (video below).  Most of all, he was willing to actually defend his administration and call out Romney's contradictions (on a couple of occasions calling him a liar).  Perhaps it was the town-hall format, which put him in a setting where I think he operates best (directly interacting with the audience), or perhaps it was Romney's overconfidence (still basking in the glow of his win in the first debate), but last night clearly belonged to Obama. 

I feel sort of icky quoting NRO's Rich Lowry here, but the moment that "...sent little starbursts through the screen..." for me was when the debate turned to the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi which ended the life of the US ambassador and three staff members.  Romney accused the president of being slow to respond to the crisis, taking two weeks to acknowledge this was a terrorist attack.  After some back and forth, Obama rounded directly on Romney, looked him dead in his face, and like an angry parent scolding a small child, came back with this.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.
And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief.
On top of this, debate moderator Candy Crowley actually corrected Romney.  Pointing out that Obama did refer to the crisis as a terrorist attack (though, to be fair, at the time the consensus was that it was a spontaneous attack caused by a video, and not an organized campaign).  This made Dan Quayle's "Jack Kennedy" moment look like the Ghettysburg Address.  Romney's flub on something that was supposed to be a foolproof GOP talking point was the faceplant heard 'round the world, and in my opinion, the moment Obama won the debate. In other words, THE KNOCKOUT PUNCH.  See video here.

This is the Obama we wanted to show up at the first debate, and we're certainly happy he came with it last night.  Time will tell what this will do to the overall campaign, but Obama certainly saved his campaign with his performance.  The next debate is Monday, and the topic will be Foreign Policy.  If Obama can keep up this momentum on a subject that Team Romney has pretty much ceeded with his VP pick of Paul Ryan, then I think November 6 is going to be a really good night for us.

Mr. President, welcome to the debates.  Glad you could join us.

Alternet - Obama Comes Out Swinging in 2nd Debate; Cancy Crowley Fact-Checks Romney

Politico - Presidential debate transcript, questions, Oct. 16, 2012