The First Debate- Hit or Miss?

Luckily for me, my very first post on our class blog happens to be due on the night of the very first Presidential Debate. I chose to hold off on writing this post primarily because I thought this would make for a great topic.

My initial thoughts about the debate took me by surprise. What we got from President Obama and Mitt Romney was very different from what I anticipated. The very first thing I noticed was the dynamic between the two. For the majority of the evening it felt as though Romney was on the offensive, forcing Obama to constantly be playing defense. In my opinion this really gave Romney the upper hand.

What I was looking for was a serious blunder from one of the sides… something that I could really sink my teeth into. However, neither candidate presented me with anything that I could really dig in to. I found that overall Romney appeared to be more present than Obama. Normally when I think of Obama in any type of speaking engagement I foresee a lot of positive energy and inspiration. One of his talents is captivating audiences and getting people to really rally around the way he delivers his opinions. Tonight, I just didn’t get that. Romney seemed virtually unscathed by every comment made questioning him all night and came back with sharp an eloquent responses. I was anticipating Romney to be a little more flustered in the first debate.

There was a certain lack of fluidity when Obama attempted to detail his own policies throughout the debate. Could it just have been an off night for Obama or his he truly feeling the pressure from Romney? Obama did not take any true shots at Romney even when provided with perfect opportunities to do so. I was extremely surprised that Obama never called into question Romney’s comments regarding “47%” that has received extensive media attention recently.

I tried to pay close attention to body language throughout because actions do tend to speak louder than words. While Obama was making his points, Romney seemed to possess a grin that indicated he had the perfect rebuttal in mind and he was ready to use it. On the other hand, when Romney was speaking Obama seemed either distracted or disinterested. His facial expressions spoke to me in a way that said, “Can you believe this guy?!”

Overall, I think it is safe to say that President Obama and Gov. Romney agreed on essentially nothing… which of course is not all that surprising. At times I found things feeling slightly petty, such as when Romney retorted that “virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate.” As expected, Romney’s primary goal for the evening was to essentially make the debate a referendum of the past four years of Obama’s presidency. On the other side of that, Obama tried to convince voters that his plan for the next four years is superior to that of his opponents.

I look forward to future debates, and I expect them to be much closer in the future. In my opinion, tonight’s debate goes to Romney. He dominated the majority of the date and it was extremely apparent that his prep work paid off. I expect Obama to possess much more of his usual spirit in the next debate which will pose a much larger challenge for Romney and his occasional stiffness. I look forward to seeing what both candidates bring to the table in the next debate.

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27 comments

  1. Overall, I found the debate disappointing. Although Romney had more presence, and Obama looked as though he was recovering from the flu, neither really made a strong case, other than the usual talking points. Romney was well rehearsed and had his script down pat. He put on a “performance.” The prep time paid off. Obama was definitely off his mark. I wonder how the debate–with Romney the clear winner so far in the immediate polls–will affect the polls to come out in the next week or so. Also, to what extent are people undecided? To what extent will those who already made a decision be swayed by this debate?

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your analysis of last night’s debate. Will the debate have an effect on the election? Time will tell. I’ve seen a lot of presidential debates in my time, and for me it was fun to reflect on how debates have affected elections in the past. If you haven’t read much about past debates, you might want to catch a few on You Tube – I think you’ll be amazed by how things have changed since the first Kennedy-Nixon debate! A couple of fun videos there – one from CNN’s Anderson Cooper called Best Moments from Presidential Debates and another by the Wall Street Journal called Why the Little Things Matter. I think you’ll enjoy them.

    Keep up the good work!

    Karen Douse
    OSG Academic Dean

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  3. I watched the debate last night too. I completely agree with you that Mitt dominated this debate. Obama seemed to be flustered and losing his train of thought a lot. However, I thought Mitt’s grin on his face was creepy the entire time. I think that Romney was rude that he continued to talk after his time was up and continued to interrupt Obama throughout the debate. Neither one of them did the best in my opinion. However, you made very interesting points and I will enjoy watching the debates in the future too!

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    • I have to agree with you that at times Mitt’s grin was slightly creepy! Sometimes I think he doesn’t realize that we can all see him! Thanks for the nice words!

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  4. Unfortunately I was unable to watch the debate, but your post really helped me with a basis of what happened. From what I read it seemed like the debate did not go very well at all and I was wondering what you think could have made it more successful and what Obama and Romney could have done to handle themselves better?

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    • I think there are a LOT of things that could have gone better.. where to begin?! Starting with Obama, he really lacked presence. Like I said, what is usually so great about Obama when it comes to public speaking is his ability to really captivate audiences. Often times even those who not support Obama still have to concede that his presentation and overall aura when participating in speaking engagements is almost captivating. I wish that he had really brought more of that last night instead of being so flat. With regard to Mitt Romney, he is known for his overly rehearsed vibes and “zingers.” Last night I felt all his prep work really paid off. He came out of the gate strong within the first thirty minutes or so which was really important because he remained in control for the rest of the night. I am interested to see how Obama comes back in the next debate, most likely more prepared and ready to go. I anticipate it will be a much much closer debate!

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  5. Hey Courtney, I loved reading your blog because you pretty much summed up my thoughts on the debate. I agree that Obama wasn’t speaking as he normally does and Romney clearly appeared more confident in his speech. Also, Obama’s lack of interest made it hard to me to agree with his points. Overall, I fell Romney won this debate but I do predict Obama will learn from this and will step up his game for the next debate. Thanks for your analysis!

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  6. Hi Courtney! I thought your topic was a perfect choice, and you really picked up on every aspect of the debate. You’re right, the body language that both Romney and Obama portrayed was really important during the debate. And I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one picking up on some of the points that Obama missed nailing Romney on! He definitely wasn’t on his A game during that debate. I’d love to keep hearing what you think for the rest of the debates!
    Great post!
    Cat

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  7. Interesting post here:

    It seemed to me like Obama was waiting for Romney to make a gaffe that he could seize upon (think $10,000 bet). With the negligible exception of “big bird”, Romney didn’t do that.
    Obama doesn’t seem to understand how anybody could have a different opinion than him; he seems to have a very low opinion of Republicans in general.

    Maybe Obama was also surprised to have a moderate Romney come out of the woodwork. Do you think that Romney is leaning more towards the center again?

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    • Thanks for your comment! I agree that Obama seemed to be hoping for a gaffe to take advantage of and that just really didn’t happen. I agree with your point that Obama does not seem to be able to grasp that other people maintain different points of views. I do think we saw a little bit more of a moderate Romney with him leaning towards the center a bit, but overall I do not think it was too noticeable. I am really interested to see how Romney presents himself in the next debate!

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  8. you have a really interesting and well-thought out post about the debate! i, too was very surprised by the lack of “sound bites” that the debate produced. as for the performance of the two candidates, i definitely agree with your assessment of President Obama’s performance- he seemed anxious and not entirely present. great job assessing this debate.

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    • Thanks! I agree with your comment regarding Obamas demeanor! We will see how he changes his self presentation in the next debate!

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  9. I too watched the debate on the 3rd, and I got the same impression Patrick above did. Obama didn’t seem to have done his work beforehand, instead choosing to capitalize on any of Romney’s big blunders. He looked distracted and stumbled on multiple occasions. However, I also got the feeling that Romney became overconfident and not a little arrogant as the debate went on.

    Though I am an Obama supporter, I would have to agree with you that Romney dominated the debate. How could Obama do better the next time? How do you think Romney could prepare for a better performance from Obama in the next debate?

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    • Hello! I think the key thing Obama needs to do better next time is to come out of the gate stronger and attempt to take the first 30 minutes by storm. Those first 30 minutes are crucial. Assuming Romney continues to present himself in such a cool and collected way, I think he will be at an advantage. I do not expect the next debate to as easy for Romney. I anticipate Obama will come back much more prepared and will put up a bigger fight!

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  10. You pretty much took my words out of my mouth. I do think Romney outpreformed Obama without a doubt. Romney was on the offense and he really “took it to Obama”. Obama played it safe and was on the defense most of the time. I thought Obama was going to shine and Romney would say something he shouldn’t have again! Romney has yet to impress me though, he says how everything Obama is doing is wrong, but has yet to say what he would do to make it better. I was suprised to see that Romney moved ahead of Obama in the poles but I expect Obama to make a comeback soon. I don’t know why but Romney just seems like a shady guy to me. I am not a fan of Obama either but I believe he is a better choice than Romney.

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    • Hello, Skyler! I agree with everything you said.. including that Obama will most likely make a comeback in the poles. I think a lot of people are uncertain of Romney’s character and I have to wonder how much of that is a result of the attacks the Obama campaign made on specific aspects of his life, for example his time working at Bain! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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  11. Hello, I’m a student at the University of South Alabama. I also feel that Romney took the stage at the debate. Obama was just not mentally present. I was a little worried that Romney would cave under the pressure of the first debate, but he did rather well!
    You wrote a wonderful post. Keep up the good work!
    Your friend in Alabama,
    Meredith

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  12. Hi Courtneyann,

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I am glad to see you utilizing advance technology to master U.S. and comparative government. I wish I would have had an online or more technology based government class when I was in high school. It would have made it possible for my class to get more feedback from different people concerning political issues.

    In reference to your blog, I think you covered everything that occurred in the first debate. Although, personally I was not surprised. I think from all the hype surrounding the debate this has been a pattern for the last couple of months. Mr. Romney has been on the attack for a while now. On the other hand, I think President Obama is not naturally an offensive person and it showed in the first debate. Majority of the time he sticks with the traditional political correct way of answering questions and going about business.I feel that is the reason why he neither brought up the 47% statement nor took a real good opposing shot at Mr .Romney. I also feel that is why he may have seemed distracted or disinterested while Gov. Romney was speaking. Could he have been possible contemplating whether to use that statement against Gov. Romney right then and there? However, as the debates continue to heat up I think it is going to be really clear to see the positions of each candidate.

    Good Job on your first post! Keep expressing your opinion,analysis, and perspective. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Samuel Anderson EDM 310

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  13. Hi, I think your blog on the Presidential Debate is accurate and very much right. I personally love Obama, but it seems as if Obama was a little off this night of the debate. I like the fact that you noticed the body language. That was very observing of you. A great writer possess this characteristic. I enjoyed your post and I agree with your other comments that you have a great, well constructed, and written blog. Great Job!!

    Ardriana Marshall EDM310

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  14. Hello Courtney Ann,
    I really liked reading your blog post! You really depicted the debate so that I felt like I was watching right as you spoke about it. I agree with your comment about Obama’s uncharacteristic disengagement – I expected more motivational speaking points from him! How do you think each of the candidates is doing as of now?

    Thanks and good job on your post!

    Clara

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  15. Hi Courtney,

    My name is Stephanie Tisdale. I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading your blog post! I agree with you about Obama. I felt like Obama was not well present in this debate. Obama seemed to be cat napping as Romney was talking. I believe the first debate win goes to Romney.

    Keep up the good work!

    -Stephanie Tisdale

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