Debate analysis: Romney's aggressive performance cheers GOP

Folks cheer as they watch the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney during a watch party put on by the South Orange Courty Tea Party in Dana Point, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Folks cheer as they watch the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney during a watch party put on by the South Orange Courty Tea Party in Dana Point, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Pool-Michael Reynolds)

WASHINGTON — Challenger Mitt Romney used Wednesday's debate to put President Barack Obama on the defensive on health care, jobs and other issues. The president's reluctance to fire back harshly gave new hope to Republican partisans.

Romney managed to highlight his top campaign themes — calling for lower tax rates, less regulation, the repeal of "Obamacare" — while largely fending off Obama's demands for details on how to pay for his proposals or safeguard Americans' health and well-being.

Neither Obama nor the debate's moderator, meanwhile, pressed Romney on some of his most vulnerable points. They included Romney's claim that 47 percent of Americans are docile dependents on the government, a topic heavily featured in TV ads and public conversations the past two weeks.

The 90-minute debate in Denver may have been too wonky to captivate millions of American viewers and change the campaign's overall arc. Polls show Obama leading in key battleground states.

But it delighted Republicans who felt Romney was the aggressor without going overboard, and who were surprised by Obama's cautious, at times listless demeanor.

Even some Democratic partisans grudgingly acknowledged that Romney had a good debate.

"I think he won, unfortunately," said Karl Amelchenko, 36, a lawyer from Raleigh, N.C., who supports Obama. "Romney was aggressive. He attacked."

The nominees have two more debates this month, and a government jobs report on Friday could reshape the contest. Obama has aired more TV ads than Romney in several key states, and it's unclear whether Romney can follow his solid debate performance with the type of incisive message that has eluded him so far.

Obama and moderator Jim Lehrer repeatedly failed to force Romney to detail how he would cut tax rates at every income level without expanding the deficit or forcing middle-income people to pay a higher total tax bill.

"If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and add $2 trillion in additional spending that the military is not asking for," Obama said, "and you think that by closing loopholes and deductions for the well-to-do, somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Gov. Romney's plan may work for you."

"Virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate," Romney retorted. "I'm not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut."

As Romney all but accused Obama of lying about his tax plan, the president alternated between looking directly at his Republican rival and bowing his head to take notes. "Now he's saying his big bold idea is 'never mind,'" Obama said.

Romney held his ground. He said he would reduce income tax rates without adding to the deficit and without reducing "the share paid by high-income individuals."

Economists say Romney has yet to explain how he can manage that feat.

Obama seemed frustrated but almost resigned. He said Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, "put forward a budget that reflects many of the principles that Gov. Romney's talked about. And it wasn't very detailed. This seems to be a trend."

But rather than press Romney any harder for details, the president moved on.

Obama seemed eager not to appear prickly or angry. He flashed his familiar smile often, and it's possible that many viewers saw him as relaxed and unshaken.

But the president also failed to follow through on some openings, such as when he noted that Romney once said he would reject a deficit-reduction plan even if it called for only $1 in new tax revenues for every $10 in spending cuts.

Obama said he wants "a balanced approach" that would include $2.50 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue.

Obama used the debate's early moments to put the best light on his handling of the economy. He mentioned that the U.S. car industry is rebounding, and the housing market is growing.

Romney replied: "We've got 23 million people out of work or looking for work."

Both men spoke to middle America, making few references to issues that fire up the right and left fringes.

Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said Romney "was on offense most of the night, holding Obama accountable for massive investments in green energy, the growing national debt and weak economic recovery. Obama never asked Romney to defend the Bain Capital record, his decision to release only two years of tax returns or the '47 percent' comment."

Democratic strategist Doug Hattaway said Romney "did fine, as expected. But fine doesn't get the job done." He said Romney failed to "change the dynamics of the race."

With a month remaining until the election, and early voting under way in many states, Republican partisans hope Hattaway is wrong.

Charles Babington covers national politics for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cbabington. Associated Press writer Allen Breed in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.

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Comments » 28

20_Days writes:

Romney is winning in the debate polls 2 to 1.

The difference between real experience and accomplishment as compared to words and unproven catch phrases.

Obama looked, weak, uninformed and out of touch. He was not on his "A" game because he never had an "A" game that is his own but what someone else did for him or wrote for him.

He lost the debate because like every thing else he was inexperienced in coming up against a real person of accomplishment.

Romney will be a great president and the country saw his real self not what the media made him to look like.

LANDSLIDE FOR ROMNEY IN 2012

20_Days writes:

"Great men create themselves and are not created by the media"!

Too bad Obama did not live up to anyone's expectations. He had his chance and wasted it.

26yearsonmarco writes:

Let's not pick on poor Klaus because I'm sure he did not sleep a wink last night after seeing his Great One's performance without the use of a teleprompter.

I can't wait to hear what 1Paradiselost has to say.
.....

August8 writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

Let's not pick on poor Klaus because I'm sure he did not sleep a wink last night after seeing his Great One's performance without the use of a teleprompter.

I can't wait to hear what 1Paradiselost has to say.
.....

26 --- Well perhaps he would be better served to read, look listen and get some more rest instead of writing all this crud?

panola60 writes:

Obama: "We don’t need to build more highways out in the suburbs" federal money should flow to “our neighborhoods”

Umm, Mr. President, have you now written off 80% of America because we don't live in urban areas or because of skin color? Oh and what do you mean by "our neighborhoods" when speaking to a black audience?

1Paradiselost writes:

You have to give Romney credit he had a good night.

Or was it part of Obamas plan not to be looked at as an uppity (You Know What)?

Now the Media expects him (Obama) to come out strong in the next debate.

Romney did not not give and specifics, except the killing of Big Bird and PBS. Or how we are going to get a 5 trillion tax cut AND balance the budget.

We will have to wait and see how this shakes out..

26yearsonmarco writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

You have to give Romney credit he had a good night.

Or was it part of Obamas plan not to be looked at as an uppity (You Know What)?

Now the Media expects him (Obama) to come out strong in the next debate.

Romney did not not give and specifics, except the killing of Big Bird and PBS. Or how we are going to get a 5 trillion tax cut AND balance the budget.

We will have to wait and see how this shakes out..

Good Morning 1P:

It looks like you had a good nights sleep, and are beginning to see the light!!

20_Days writes:

No Paradise "looked as an uppity "You know What"". The man is presently, and hopefully not for much longer, our president".

He should at all times hold that presidential dignity and knowledge. Making excuses for incompetence may be ok for a child or a trainee, not for the POTUS, especially one who has been in office almost 4 years.

Maybe, that is all we can ever expect from Obama without the teleprompters and media bias.

RayNetherwood writes:

Klauschen ... Did we cry in our sleep last night? The GRATING PROCRASTINATOR BRAINLESS Obama showed (again) just how PATHETIC he is without his beloved teleprompters!

Ha ha ha ha. Come on Klaus, let the excuses roll .......

26yearsonmarco writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Klaus,

Give me a break. If you were a Muslim terrorist sitting in a cave watching the debate, would Obammee's Wimpy Chicken Little appearance strike fear in you, or encourage you to continue to plot to kill all of us?????

Believe me, we have allot more to worry about than Big Bird.

20_Days writes:

Everybody is talking about the terrible performance of our ex-president to be.

Even his "former' supporters, those who have a brain, have been shaking their heads in disbelief.

36% of the country thought Obama came out ahead in the debate 62% thought Romney did. 2% were unsure.

20_Days writes:

Rolo,

Can I jump in on that bet? I bet Klaus is as good at picking winners as Obama is.

26yearsonmarco writes:

Have you all heard Al Gores excuse for last night???

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/g...

This is impossibe because Obamee head has been in the clouds for 4 years.

RayNetherwood writes:

26 .... Actually, many of us feel his head has been up something other than a cloud.

20_Days writes:

MB,

Must have been a case of Biden's free colonoscopy in practice.

EastCoastFloridaPerson writes:

in response to 20_Days:

Romney is winning in the debate polls 2 to 1.

The difference between real experience and accomplishment as compared to words and unproven catch phrases.

Obama looked, weak, uninformed and out of touch. He was not on his "A" game because he never had an "A" game that is his own but what someone else did for him or wrote for him.

He lost the debate because like every thing else he was inexperienced in coming up against a real person of accomplishment.

Romney will be a great president and the country saw his real self not what the media made him to look like.

LANDSLIDE FOR ROMNEY IN 2012

AMEN to all of your comments. Romney was well prepared,had facts that Obama did not have,could speak to each point,remembering them,one after another.How refreshing. He rebuted OBAMA's lies that he had sprend through his untrue commercials. Romney gets a AAA++++ and OBAMA gets an F-!!!

RayNetherwood writes:

Ecfp ...... yup!

1Paradiselost writes:

7.8% Thanks you!

1Paradiselost writes:

Klaus

Romney is a liar. Video tape tells all the truth!

I have confidence the average American is too smart. and sees thru this guys (Romney's) constant lies. Ask yourself this question, how can anyone debate a liar? (see the link below).

He may have gave the Republican viewers convincing testimony during his debate.

But was found guilty for perjury by the judge, the American people.

Jerry, just remember. It's not a lie... if you believe it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn_PSJ...

20_Days writes:

7.8% Wow!

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE!

OBAMA IS TOAST and America has seen him in true form at the debate and it is all over for him. NEXT!

26yearsonmarco writes:

in response to 20_Days:

7.8% Wow!

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE!

OBAMA IS TOAST and America has seen him in true form at the debate and it is all over for him. NEXT!

These figures are so far off they are not worth mentioning.

They only serve as a way of fooling the fools that believe them.

26yearsonmarco writes:

Klaus,

I remember you saying you’re an engineer, so I assume you know numbers.

These numbers a skewed to make Obama look good, and anyone with your intelligence should know this.

20_Days writes:

Come on Klaus you knew all about bridge building, come clean. I think the term "static" was what you used.

RayNetherwood writes:

Talk about an OBAMA fetish .... Klaus, you're a scary guy .... just like your beloved Fuhrer.

panola60 writes:

Obama has lied to us so much and so often he has zero credibility left with reasonable Americans. . .

Obama broke his promise to cut spending. (instead he has added $6 trillion to our debt in 4 years, which is much more than Bush added in 8 years)

Obama broke his promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.

Obama broke his promise to "Uphold the Laws of This Land”.

Obama broke his promise that obamacare would not be a tax.

Obama broke his promise to lessen our dependency on Middle East oil by getting more oil from our neighbors.

Obama broke his promise for a new era of bipartisan cooperation in all matters.

Obama broke his promise to not force Americans to buy health insurance.

Obama broke his promise that Obamacare will reduce healthcare costs, instead they have risen on average $3,000 per year.

Obama broke his promise that 90% of the stimulus jobs created would be in the private sector.

Obama broke his promise that that if you like their current health plan you can keep it.

Obama broke his promise to put all bills on the White House web site for five days before signing them.

Obama broke his promise to have the congressional health care negotiations broadcast live on C-SPAN.

Obama broke his promise to end earmarks.

Obama broke his promise to keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent.

Obama broke his promise to close the detention center at Guantanamo in the first year.

Obama broke his promise to make peace with direct, no precondition talks with America 's most hate-filled enemies during his first year in office, ushering in a new era of global cooperation.

Obama broke his promise to never allow Iran the ability to create nuclear weapons.

Obama broke his promise to end the hiring of former lobbyists into high White House jobs.

Obama broke his promise to end no-compete contracts with the government.

Obama broke his promise to disclose the names of all attendees at closed White House meetings.

RayNetherwood writes:

Let's have a Klaus contest ... has to be mindless, e.g.:

Blah, blah, blah

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM

I really love his ears

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM

The seas are receding and the planet is healing ....

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM

I personally killed Bin Laden ... while playing golf, well on a break

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM

Heil my beloved Lord and Master

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM

RayNetherwood writes:

Thanks, I know. Unlike you.

GRATING POMPOUS BROKE ODUMDUM thinks your efforts are nothing but boring drivel, kind of like his debate performance.

Keep blathering Klauschen.

20_Days writes:

Don't bother with Klaus, he does not have the testicular fortitude to stand behind his own predictions. Then maybe again he may not have any testiculars to gain fortitude from.

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