The overwhelming majority of pundits declared this year’s general election presidential debate a big win for the Mitt Romney. Even the Obama campaign’s own focus group agreed that the debate was a loss.
Obama reportedly failed to use many of the tactics he had practiced in debate camp, so now the focus is on Vice President Joe Biden to see whether or not he can regain Democratic momentum, and also on whether or not the president can make a comeback.
That is, if his job as president of the United States gives him enough free time for preparation. It apparently didn’t the last time.
The New York Times reports that, like many other presidents, Obama’s debate preparations had to be cancelled or cut short because of the demands of his job.
On the day of the debate, multiple bombings occurred in Aleppo, Syria leaving more than 120 people injured and at least 34 killed. Also within the region, mortar shelling from Syria landed in NATO ally Turkey, who fired back. An emergency NATO session was called.
Advisers told NYT, one practice session even took place immediately following a service for the Americans slain in Libya. The president was, to say the least, distracted.
As aides have told the media for a while, President Obama does not like debates; he sees them as “media-driven gamesmanship.” His performances in 2008, while successful, were considered victories largely due to how poorly Senator John McCain did.
Also, President Obama has made it “clear to advisers that he was not happy about debating Mr. Romney, whom he views with disdain.”
On stage, the president seemed frustrated and thrown off by Romney’s more moderate style and Jim Lehrer’s lack of pointed questions.
Post debate, the Obama campaign was relieved that Romney didn’t deliver a knockout blow. In fact, it was Romney’s point about ending subsidies to PBS that appears to have captured the public’s imagination the most. The president’s campaign has also run with it, even going as far as to send a volunteer in a Big Bird costume to a Romney event.
For the next debate Obama is expected to use some of the lines he didn’t use in Denver.
“He doesn’t brood — he acts,” said David Axelrod, the president’s chief strategist. “Whatever the concerns were about [Denver], he wakes up the next day ready to take it on again.”
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