As Debates Approach, Obama and Romney Praise Each Other

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Brian Snyder / Reuters - Susan Walsh / AP

Let us pause to praise this brief political moment of mutual admiration. Mitt Romney’s campaign staff stands in awe of Barack Obama’s political talents. “President Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker, and is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history,” gushed Beth Myers, one of Romney’s senior advisers, in a memo last week. “Governor Romney,” countered Obama in Las Vegas on Sunday night, “he’s a good debater. I’m just O.K.”

Can you feel the love? Come debate day in Denver on Wednesday, do not be surprised to see Obama supporters wearing Romney T-shirts and carrying “Believe in America” signs. Obama might even replace some of his attack ads with montages of Romney skewering his foes in the GOP primary debates. Would that all of the presidential campaign were so downright respectful. The nation really could come together.

But alas, like everything else in politics these days, even the praise is a house of mirrors. On Wednesday, Obama and Romney will meet for the first of three debates that will dominate the October news cycle. At the end of each, chances are high that neither man, given the enormous preparation involved in these spectacles, will have spit on the audience, uttered an obscenity or disrespected the nation he loves. These formats, truth be told, do not lend themselves to knockout punches. (Can you remember any single notable exchange between Obama and John McCain in their 2008 debates?) Yet the yen for declaring a winner and a loser by both the media and the various partisans will no doubt dominate the postdebate hours and days, making it essential for the campaigns to begin working the refs now.

To hear Romney’s people tell it, it will be an accomplishment if he speaks in complete sentences and resists the urge to drool on his tattersall shirt. To hear Obama’s people tell it, the President is simply hoping he doesn’t fall off the stage. “Well, he could fall off the stage,” said Jen Psaki, Obama’s campaign spokeswoman. (Really. She actually said that.)

All of this can be discounted. Candidates are indeed scored on a curve in debates, owing to the predilections and biases of the tens of millions of voters who tune in. But on the scorecard that matters — that of the voters who can be swayed — they will not be scored on the curves presented by the campaigns. Both candidates are, in fact, accomplished debaters who will be expected to know their stuff, speak clearly, joust with ease and present themselves as actual human beings. Neither man is simply stepping onstage to hold his own. They both intend and expect to best the other man.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Sept. 20-27)

If any broader grading curve exists, it has less to do with the debating talents of these men and more with the political environment that congealed in September. Obama, as it stands, is winning this election, though that standing by no means guarantees the eventual outcome. The electorate remains closely divided, and history clearly demonstrates that Romney’s deficit can be overcome.

But as in baseball and, alas, the National Football League, a tie would go to the team on offense, in this case Obama’s, so Romney will enter the hall on Wednesday with a slightly higher burden. This burden is increased by the fact that since the winter of 2011, the Romney campaign has considered the debates to be a turning point, the moment when disaffected Obama supporters can see Romney onstage with his opponent for the first time and feel comfortable passing the baton to the new guy. This is the Reagan model from 1980.

This could present some real opportunities for fireworks. For most of the past two weeks, Romney and his advisers have been telling reporters that Obama needs to be called on his misrepresentations and falsehoods. The Obama campaign has countered by saying these statements — even those declared false by independent fact checkers — are not really false. And besides, they say, Romney peddles plenty of fictions as well. “At the first debate,” Obama aide David Axelrod warns, “facts will matter.” (Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post has a fine overview of the fact checking that each candidate might unleash on the other in this debate.)

Historically, some of the best moments in debates come when candidates call each other a shyster, and then back it up. (Ronald Reagan had a good line in 1980: “There you go again.” It was so good, he returned to it four years later, though by that time, Walter Mondale was prepared.)

But fireworks do not make a blowout. In the end, the only question that matters in these debates is, Did something make voters change their mind? As it stands, we live in a country where near record numbers of voters are firmly fixed in their opinions. Except on the margins, they have shown themselves largely unwilling to shift their views. It will take a lot more than a bunch of expectation setting and postdebate spin by the campaigns to do it now. The candidates themselves will have to do it alone, onstage, face to face.

MORE: Read About Gloria Borger’s Upcoming CNN Documentary“Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power”

MORE: Special GOP Issue: Party of No

102 comments
lorielevine
lorielevine

On Love  amp; Politics

It has been said that

Politics makes Strange Bedfellows,

But Love makes even stranger ones.

Politics makes good sense compared to love.

Love is selfless, while politics is rewarding.

Love is blind and sometimes ruthless, while Politics is Pure(bull).

Love is social science compared to politics.

When love is an art, politics is described as a science.

When love is a science, politics is a fart...

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

The need of the hour is to solve the burning problems such as economic recession, huge unemployment, and the chaos in foreign policy which has relegated America to an inferior position, with Moscow and Beijing dictating terms, even in dealing with Syria. Instead of a demagogue with oratory skills, let's have a practical man who can redeem America from the present mess.

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

'Gifted speaking,' 'political communication'  and all that will not solve the current problems of economic recession, unemployment and the chaos in international affairs. The need of the hour is to have  a practical man, not a demagogue with speaking talents.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

We need a leader with a good record. It is not enough to make claims about Obama without examining the Romney record. I think the key for all patriots is to review Romney's record. I hope you know that by Romney’s last year in office, Massachusetts was ranked by the Public Policy Institute of New York on its Cost of Doing Business Index, as the 4th most expensive state in which to do business in. 

Data compiled by the Tax Foundation reveals that during Romney’s term, the per capita tax burden increased from 9.3% to 9.9%, a .6% increase.  In real dollars, the percapita tax burden increased 1175.71 dollars during Romney’s term.

Romney wrecked our State, he was a HORRIBLE governor, and should not be allowed to sully the office of the president and wreck the nation, in the same way he did our great Commonwealth.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

Mitt, now it is NOT the time to hit Obama on energy, health care, taxes, and spending.   Rather, it is time for you to give the specifics of YOUR policies.  (Everyone knows plenty about Obama, but we know very little about you; and we will not entrust you with the presidency unless we know more and are confident that the change in presidents is a good one.)

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

This comment is pending approval and won't be displayed until it is approved.

"There is something disgraceful happening here, but it doesn’t involve a comment by an obscure embassy spokesman. It is Romney’s cynical, dishonest effort to take advantage of this national tragedy for his own political ends. 

We HAVE to keep this smirking, lying, disgusting man out of the White House" - WP comment

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I am always amazed when people make these kind of wild remarks. What makes Obama a lying disgusting man??? Romney is a LIAR. He lied about his residence in our State, and claimed that had indicated that he was an MA resident on his taxes, meanwhile, the entire time, he knew that he had listed UTAH as his primary residence.

In addition, he did not deliver on ANY of the promises he made to us.

"According to job creation experts Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of

Northeastern University, manufacturing employment during the Romney years “declined by 14%, the third worse record in the country.” 

The same scholars wrote that “from 2001 to 2006, Massachusetts ranked 49th in the nation in job creation…”

The Boston Globe business columnist Steve Baily wrote that “there are 40,000 fewer people in the workforce than when Romney took over.”  This view was echoed by the Boston Herald’s business columnist, Bret Arends, who wrote, “During the four years Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, it had the second worst jobs record of any state in America…it wasn’t a regional issue. The rest of New England created nearly 200,000 jobs.”

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

George,  

Your times with David, Sam, Cokie, then George were de rigueur for any budding, young politico, back in the day. That was then, this is now. There is more at play than mere national guilt about slavery and all its chains that bond us to our current President. Much more. Women's rights, Gay's rights, the rights of the 47% to name a few. Our country has inextricably moved away from the era you grew up and came of age in: the era when we all Liked Ike, and Father Did Know Best. No George, today's rapidly changing and shrinking global society demands so much more that what Mitt Romney can deliver with his very narrow, and limited world view. Indeed, Romney is the very antithesis of what America needs now: a Global Leader. There is only one clear choice this election cycle. We must and we will elect the Most Qualified President for Our Times. 

 

Best regards,

Richard Giles
Richard Giles

Obama raising taxes (for other than the very wealthy) is a hypothetical accusation by Romney-Ryan but ... Romney wanting to cut taxes and cut regulations, again greatly favoring the wealthy, and Ryan's budget advocating cutting costs to the very wealthy and raising costs to the middle-class are real positions that Romney and Ryan have taken.  Romney and Ryan are effectively advocating a return to "more of the same", Bush-Cheney style, that can only result in "more of the same", being the further exploitation by "the money" again costing the majority.

Suriyamoorthy
Suriyamoorthy

Any country, for its success, needs a good decision-maker. He may be laconic like Truman. He need not be a good debater. Let not people be swayed by the tongue. Let them pray for a wise 'king'.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Haha.. we are not seeking a King. We want a leader that will finish what he started. This is why many folks will be voting for Obama. Romney was an awful governor and should not be allowed to wreck the country as he did our State.

As I have often stated here, not only was Romney a horrible governor, he did not care that he was awful and mocked us on the news and elsewhere when we complained about his ineptitude.  Romney was out of the state for 200 days during his last two years in office.  Is that not the epitome of ineptitude????

Obama/Biden 2012    

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

Obama is simply going to wipe the floor with him.  Romney is a rich pariah who simply can’t identify with ANY average American through his fog of lies and network of havened money.  He’ll only continue to get booed out of the room by every group of minority and middle class voters he comes across.  His religion and wealth is highly elitist and everyone in this country has had it with his kind.  We’re telling Mitt he can’t buy this election!  Read about the role of his money and his Magic Mormon Underwear are playing in the polls at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I'm not expecting any significant game changers from the debates.  

We love the drama of the mano-a-mano, but at this point how many people really are on the fence waiting to be convinced by a superstar debate performance?  

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Rove's ready to jump from it....

haugeneder
haugeneder

Be warned. During one of the great debates, President Obama will have a

strategic and planned brain freeze, thereby intentionally forfeiting

the election to Romney. That's how bad the global, especially the American economic and environment situation has become.

Obama knows how bad it really is -- it isn't his fault because he tried

to reverse it, but failed, and knows Romney's election will cause the super Depression that should have struck four years ago, resulting, some years down the road, in a Phoenix-like ashes rebirth.

Obama knows he can't fix things. Nobody can. He will indirectly forfeit to Romney and let the disaster unfold as it should have in the first place.

Rudy Haugeneder

Clarence Swinney
Clarence Swinney

 OBAMA SUCCESSES

Who will tell the people? Obama will not!

His Exec Order 13589 “Promoting Efficient Spending”

cut spending in many departments.

He budgeted 8 Billion in spending cuts and according to OMB is well on way to get it.

He will have increased spending by only 8.6% if he lives up to just 3800B in 2013 fiscal year.

He would have gained 4M more jobs had the Republicans not stopped his American Jobs bill.

I do not understand the lack of promo material.

Mildred Gillars
Mildred Gillars

It is wrapped in red-white and blue bunting

It is touted on their menu as being uniquely able to satisfy you where brand x has failed, guaranteed to be anything and everything you want even when you change your mind- because it WILL magically change to what you want. 

It has failed to sell....because no matter how they package it up, a chit-sandwich is still a chit sandwich. 

It goes amazingly well with crow,, and a nice cold WHINE.

It is the featured entree for the GOP dinners on November 6th.

Mildred Gillars
Mildred Gillars

Shorter RustyRodTheRacist:

"WWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

"The candidates themselves will have to do it alone, onstage, face to face.".

Yes, the only thing is if the media moderators such as Candy Crowley can resist using their position in favor of Obama.  How likely do you believe that will be Mr Scherer?  

Will it be as obvious as the 2008 election where we had Donna whatever her last name is from NPR, or George Stephanopoulos?Will the media (leftist media you represent and in control of the debates this year) be able to contain yourselves to show non-bias in the debates?  I am looking at that as much as anything myself.  Obama may not call Romney out on any "zingers", but what about your media friends, Mr Scherer?  Will they be able to report on a "zinger" and the reaction to it in a non-biased manner?  

This is not 1980.  In 1980 I was actually watching one of the 3 networks for the most part to get my "news".  There was somewhat of a non-biased reporting at that time.  Today, clearly that has been skewed in favor of liberals, and the liberal reporters/ journalists who inhabit the leftist media.  

But, I also believe a huge warning shot has been fired over the bow of the leftist media who scramble each day to deny any kind of bias.  There may be more to come out of these debates as a result.  We may see a reformed media, at least from those who want to last beyond the next 4 years.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 I am not sure why the Far Right always touts this media bias all the time. Meanwhile, Fox News, the Far Right site is as biased and radical as can be imagined. When I watch it, it is almost surreal. 

Today, Hannity was making a huge fuss about an Obama tape that had "surfaced" in which Obama acknowledged the presence of Reverend Wright in the gathering. WOW... what a stunner???

 After listening to his droning, I wondered if anyone had informed Hannity that the tape he was playing and analyzing with such gusto had been around for the past 5- years.   Fox News is the anti-Obama/political fiction network. This is why viewers of Fox are frequently startled when they encounter reality on other networks.  

Mildred Gillars
Mildred Gillars

All Obama has to do to win these debates is to keep his mouth shut, stand about 10-feet from Romney,  tilt his head slightly to the left, and wear a Mona Lisa smile.

jmac
jmac

Hopefully, no sighing!   Someone wrote Gore had five or six diet colas before his debate when he should have had a beer instead to calm him down.  

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

It wasn't sighing that made him lose the election....but point taken.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I agree. Activist Judges elected Bush.  Thanks in large part to Scalia and his Supreme Court gangsters, who were so vehement in determining that counting of votes in Florida should stop. Meanwhile, Scalia's son, Eugene, worked with Ted Olson at the time. And despite the obvious conflict,  since Olson worked with Eugene Scalia, Justice Scalia did not recuse himself in the case. 

Anyhow, one of  the reasons this election is so key, at least to me, is because it is almost certain the next President will appoint some Supreme Court Judges. Activist Judges like Scalia should be replaced by moderates and  I know that only Obama will appoint a moderate.

Romney (if elected :( )  in his drive to appease the Far Righties, calm the Loon Ryan who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, and destroy women's rights, will appoint more activist extremists like Scalia and Thomas.   

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Mr. Romney, 

Everyone of your talking points point to an inevitable war with Iran, one our country can ill afford both fiscally, and more importantly, in the toll of lost lives and limbs. Far be it for you to preach about our military strengths, all the while whiling the hours away in France as you did during our nation's war in Vietnam. No sir, you must gracefully bow out while you can, concede defeat, and go back to the pleasant, albeit dull, life which you have created for yourself and your tight circle of true believers.

Sincerely,

A True American Patriot

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Mr. Romney, 

Everyone of your talking points point to an inevitable war with Iran, one our country can ill afford both fiscally, and more importantly, in the toll of lost lives and limbs. Far be it for you to preach about our military strengths, all the while whiling the hours away in France as you did during our nation's war in Vietnam. No sir, you must gracefully bow out while you can, concede defeat, and go back to the pleasant, albeit dull, life which you have created for yourself and your tight circle of true believers.

Sincerely,

A True American Patriot

Mildred Gillars
Mildred Gillars

Mitt Romney: 

- I was a severely conservative Governor (revisionist lie) 

- I've been a hunter all my life (unnecessary lie) 

- Only 1% of American voters pay income taxes and support Obama (ludicrous lie) 

- 47% of Americans take no responsibility for their own lives (insulting lie) 

- Your trees are the right height (huh?) 

 

Ryan 

- I ran a marathon in 2 hours and 50 minutes (blatant lie) 

 

Ann 

- Seamus liked to go up on top of the carbecause he knew he was going on vacation (What? Have we heard from Seamus about this?)  

- I'm glad I had all boys because I've learned so much more ( What? More than what?) 

- I'm most concerned about Mitt's mental well-being. (Scary, but NO lie!) 

 

Talk about the gang that can't shoot straight!

Ready!  Fire!  Aim!

Mildred Gillars
Mildred Gillars

Hey, Mitt!

You see how far ahead Obama is in the polls?

YOU BUILT THAT!!!

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

I wonder what happens when Romney lets loose one of his foolishly advertized in advance "zingers," and Obama responds with "Oh, is that one of the 'zingers' you've practiced?" 

Of course, Obama does have to resist playing "gotcha" too obviously himself.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Hahaha... Hilarious.  It would be wonderful if Obama could do that. I think such a remark would neutralize any other zinger Romney has crammed into his "Zinger" arsenal.   

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

Or, could it be that Obama is being set up.  Perhaps we will not see any "zingers" at all, but witness a full out forceful barrage of statements from Romney which point out Obama's failed record, and Obama is left repeating "but, but, but" as he usually does when he is at a loss for words without his teleprompter.

jason024
jason024

or 

Romney will start talking about how much he hates the 47 percent. Then he will tak about how he "cares" but wants to give tax cuts to the rich whlie eliminating deductions which will in effect raise taxes on the middle class to pay for his tax cuts for the rich and balance the budget without eliminating waste in the Defense Department.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Rusty, Romney's been "at a loss for words" WITH his teleprompter, WITHOUT it, and everywhere in between.

Or, maybe more accurately, he's had LOTS of words... just nothing of substance to say. He's pretty much been on ALL sides of EVERY position, at one time or the other.  His "position" at any given time can be pretty well summed up as "I'm running for President, for Pete's sake... what do you want me to say?"

If YOU can tell any of us what he actually stands for.... "you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

The GOP legislation awaiting Romney's signature isn't simply a return to the era of George W. Bush. From abortion rights and gun laws to tax giveaways and energy policy, it's far worse. Measures that have already sailed through the Republican House would roll back clean-air protections, gut both Medicare and Medicaid, lavish trillions in tax cuts on billionaires while raising taxes on the poor, and slash everything from college aid to veteran benefits. In fact, the tenets of Ryan Republicanism are so extreme that they even offend the pioneers of trickle-down economics. "Ryan takes out the ax and goes after programs for the poor – which is the last thing you ought to cut," says David Stockman, who served as Ronald Reagan's budget director. "It's ideology run amok."

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/po...

jmac
jmac

The Supreme Court.  The nation was saved by Roberts on whether we can follow other progressive countries and cover out citizens with health care reform.  (Toobin suggests Roberts called a ball a strike and a strike a ball to get to first base, but at least we got there).

It's Federalism versus looking at the Constitution as a living document.  It's huge.  

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

The debates will only change the race if one of them falls off the stage or has difficulty stringing coherent sentences together (or pulls a Perry).  Otherwise, the partisan divide is probably too big.

Keith Ponder
Keith Ponder

Mitt is now probably admitting to himself that he's bitten off way more that he could chew. He probably thought that he could just put in a bid for the job, buy him out and throw him out into the streets, but now he's realizing that this ain't Bain Capital. This is the Whitehouse in the nation's capital.This is the presidential election and we all have a say in it.

Hell, no one would blame him if he had Ann call in sick for him and just didn't show up. Apparently she's now worried about his well being. Well Ann, we were worried about his well being way before now.

http://current.com/community/9...

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Persnickety Romney FAILED to learn the precept of "noblesse oblige" while DRAFT DODGING in France. Every REALISTIC Repub concedes DEFEAT.  

 

Only President Obama and the DEMOCRATS PROTECT the MIDDLE CLASS.  

 

Get the VOTE OUT! GO BIG! VOTE THE DEMOCRATIC TICKET!

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

I'm picturing you with pom-poms in hand and your cutest cheerleader outfit on.  Precious.

sacredh
sacredh

Close your robe and wipe the screen off.

sacredh
sacredh

There was no confirmation and I was not the one imagining him in a cute cheerleading outfit. My choice is a nun's habit. Deviant indeed! Why, I never. Well, maybe once.

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

Sorry to disappoint you sacredh, you I am afraid are the one with the deviate sexual mind.  I was merely pointing out Mr Yu's cheerleading comment in a non-sexual manner.  

How he cross dresses is of no concern to me.  But thanks for confirming that he does.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Starting to slip already?

You've only had this identity for what, a week or two?

sacredh
sacredh

Vote early, vote often.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

 I went to vote today, VT in theory voting already, and found that the "local" ballots weren't done, so I'll have to go back later.  Not a real problem for me, but annoying.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Paulie is so scared of Romney he's already backing out of the bet.

No integrity. No character. All bs.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Make sure you're here though sacred; that way you can send our wingers off who took the bets.

And laugh at those who don't have enough integrity to honor the bets.

sacredh
sacredh

kathy, I live in the tri-state area and work with guys from Ohio, WVA and PA. Some of the WVA guys aren't voting because they hate Obama and don't like Romney. I talked the one guy I work with from WVA that's nominally a democrat to vote for the down ticket races. WVA is going for Romney but I want to see democrats elected locally. He was going to sit it out but is going to vote now.

.

The PA guys are split on voting or sitting it out because Obama is a heavy favorite there. The guys from Ohio for Romney think Obama is going to be re-elected because the election is rigged. I think they're just setting up excuses so that if they don't vote, they can claim it wouldn't have mattered anyway. I'm not trying to convince them to vote.

.

I took vacation days on the 6th and 7th because I don't want to be anywhere near them after the election.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

Sacred:  I had to wait quite a while in '08, and I just like knowing I don't have to fit it into my day in November.  Am very glad I just have to show up and announce who I am.  No ID.  In VT we do have to swear fealty to the VT constitution when we register - called the Freeman's Oath.  Lived in New York for awhile and then moved back, and didn't have to retake the oath, because I'd already pledged to be faithful. Rather a neat idea.

Glad to see some are foolish enough not to vote because they've deluded themselves into thinking the election is rigged.  Of course, when the election results match the polls they'll think the results are rigged too.

sacredh
sacredh

Ohio has been moving steadily into the Obama column and what amazes me are the people that have had to resort to "All of the polls are wrong" excuse. All I was hearing at work was "wait until the conventions". Then it was "wait until the bounce is over". Now it's "I don't care what the polls say". Some of the same guys that insist Romney is going to win have also said they're not going to vote because the election is rigged.

sacredh
sacredh

I was going to vote absentee and then decided that I wanted to see the turnout in person. I live in a rural area and I've never had to wait more than 10 minutes to vote.