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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes – Post Debate Edition

Via Chris Bowers, Daily Kos has a couple of posts up skewering Romney for his outright lying in the first presidential debate, Barbara Morrill’s post, “Mitt Romney: Lying to victory” and Voter123’s post, “NPR: Romney Goes On Offense, Pays For It In First Wave Of Fact Checks.” See also Sara Jones’s “The 12 Lies That Made Mitt Romney’s Debate Performance Pure Fiction” at PolitcusUSA.
Romney also had a disturbing gaffe, missed by many, but not by the Boston Herald’s Frank Quaratiello, who noted: “The GOP nominee, who co-founded Boston-based private-equity firm Bain Capital and has been blasted for outsourcing jobs and laying off workers at some of the companies he took over, tried to take the president to task…”You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas,” Romney said. “Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” If he had stopped there, Romney might have been fine, but his next line was: “I maybe need to get a new accountant.” The implication was stunning and crystal clear: Romney, who has been trying to dodge his image as a ruthless corporate raider, or his accountant would have known about any tax break for outsourcing — and would have taken advantage of it…The Republican’s implication was clear: I ought to know.”
It’s good to see that the Prez already has his mojo back, according to David Nakamura’s WaPo post, “After sluggish presidential debate, a more combative Obama appears at Denver rally.”
At WaPo, James Downie sees it like this: “…The president’s supporters would be wrong to wring their hands. Fundamentally, Obama’s loss will not matter. At most, Wednesday night was a case of “too little, too late” for Romney. Yes, the polls will probably move a point or two in Romney’s direction after the first debate. But all the evidence suggests that for Romney, whether or not you believe he should be president, closing the gap and beating Obama is a bridge too far…never has a challenger’s strong first debate performance closed as large a national polling gap as Romney faced going into last night’s debate…The majority of voters have already made their decision, and the debates won’t provide enough of a boost to alter the contest’s trajectory. Sadly for Romney, the path the race is stuck on ends with his defeat.”
Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog post “How much will the debate move the polls?” offers this guestimation: “…Wednesday was as good a night as Romney can expect to have in the rest of this campaign, in front of as big an audience as he’ll get, with a maximum of media coverage. So his bounce will help tell us how many voters really remain persuadable, or at least how many of the persuadable voters are paying attention to the final events of the campaign. If that number is high, Romney should close the gap substantially, if not pull slightly ahead. If it’s low, he won’t see much bounce, and it will be that much harder to see his path to victory.”
Mother Jones’s David Corn has a revealing explanation for “Why Obama Didn’t Mention the 47 Percent Video.”
At the Crystal Ball, Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley say “Given the polarized electorate — which Crystal Ball Senior Columnist Alan Abramowitz has written about at length — we believe poll respondents when they say that the debates probably won’t change their minds…If Romney cannot significantly move the polls after turning in such a strong performance against Obama, what is left on the calendar to change the numbers in his favor? (Maybe the two jobs reports or an unscheduled October/November surprise?) Meanwhile, if Romney does make significant gains — cutting into or even erasing the president’s national lead and gaining ground in the swing states, particularly in vital Ohio — will Obama be able to recapture momentum in the debates to come? At least we now have a reason to stay tuned.”
In “The Return of Massachusetts Mitt,” Jonathan Chait opines at New York Magazine, “I do think the instantaneous, echo chamber reaction that is handing Romney an overwhelming victory is overstated. Romney made a huge error selling his Medicare plan, promising, “if you’re around 60, you don’t need to listen any further.” It was a moment in which he went from smooth to oily — when you urge voters to stop paying attention, and especially on an issue where they start off distrusting you, it heightens the distrust. Obama replied, “if you’re 54 or 55, you might want to listen, because this will affect you.””
For an interesting take on the debate by award-winning debate coach Todd Graham, read “Debate coach: Obama, heat up; Romney, stay cool” at cnn.com. Graham says: “Obama will need to stick to one subject over a series of exchanges. If he doesn’t, Romney will be like Teflon, and nothing Obama says will stick to him in these debates…And the president should utilize the backward-step-pivot-forward technique as often as possible. Since Romney will continue to put him on the defensive (and this is guaranteed), Obama must turn potential flaws into strengths. It’s easy enough to predict Romney’s attacks. Now, the president must figure out rhetorically how to turn those criticisms into benefits.”
Just to bring today’s Strategy Notes 10-pack full circle, check out Mike Luckovitch’s cartoon, The Great Debate

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