NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 5, 2012

Obama caught flat-footed in debate

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was right. While everyone else was downplaying expectations for both sides in advance of Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Christie boldly predicted that Republican nominee Mitt Romney would outshine President Obama.

“This whole race is going to be turned upside down come Thursday morning,” Christie said Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

By Thursday morning, the race had indeed been turned upside down. Prior to the debate, the Romney campaign had been struggling to find its voice. But in its aftermath, everyone was wondering what had happened to the vaunted public speaking skills of President Obama.

“Where was Obama tonight?” left-leaning MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked in a post-debate discussion on his network.

“This is what happens when u pick John Kerry as your debate coach,” liberal filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted.

“President Obama came in, he wanted to have a conversation,” former Democratic presidential adviser James Carville said on CNN. “It takes two people to have a conversation. Mitt Romney came in with a chainsaw. He’s trying to talk to a chainsaw.”

Throughout the debate, Romney was aggressive without being offensive, making his points and countering Obama’s characterizations of his positions. Obama, in contrast, seemed flat-footed and on the defensive, perhaps tired or distracted too. Many of his answers were delivered in a painfully disjointed manner.

Romney was able to counter effectively Democratic accusations that he is the candidate who will favor the wealthy to the detriment of the middle class. Romney repeatedly rejected Obama’s insistence that he is seeking tax cuts that would cost $5 trillion in revenues and increase the tax burden on middle-class citizens.

“Virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate,” Romney said, noting that Obama’s plan to allow previous tax cuts to expire would hurt small businesses and their ability to add jobs.

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