Take A Hint Left-Wing Punditry, Obama Kept His Aces in the Hole on Purpose
By Alec Kohut
Mitt Romney did win the debate last night. To deny that Romney didn’t give a better performance would be folly. And given the state of the Romney campaign on Monday, compared to today, 24 hours after the debate, he and followers should be celebrating. Was it a “game-charger.” Yes, in the fact that there is still a game. Was it an election changing turning point? No.
Was there a any moment, or discussion on any issue that will be remembered until next Tuesday? No. There were no “zingers,” no “home runs,” and certainly no one landed a “knockout punch.” What I saw was a pretty boring mundane and boring back and forth about Dodd-Frank, $5 trillion dollar tax cuts and what obscure studies say, a little Medicare talk, so on, and so on. Romney seemed more energetic, more confident and did perform better. He had to, he believed this was the election for him.
To Romney’s credit, he and his campaign understood the importance of this debate, and saw it as their best, and possibly final shot at this race competitive. They were likely as prepared as any modern candidate has been for a debate. And don’t think for a minute they weren’t prepared for the issues and questions that so many left wing pundits insist that President Obama should have brought up.
Just listening to Chris Matthews, Ed Shultz and Rachel Maddow made me realize, they just didn’t get it. In fact none of the pundits on the left or right have yet to get it, but it’s all pretty simple.
Given that last night’s debate was focused on domestic issues, let’s look at the domestic issues the left-wing punditry so wishes President Obama would have brought up Wednesday night. Those that have enabled the President to build the lead. The 47% video, the auto industry bailout, the huge lead he has with Latino voters, the lead he holds among women voters, and Bain Capital and outsourcing jobs to China.
President Obama didn’t bring up these issues. But unlike his supporters and unlike the left-wing punditry, his team was not going to underestimate a very well prepared Mitt Romney. It would be naïve to believe that for all those issues that have most plagued the Romney campaign, that they would not have focus group and poll tested answers that were shown to be most effective in blunting the Presidents attack and possibly lessening the damage of any of the those issues in this election.
So how many of his poll and focus group sharpened answers to the issues that are hurting him the most did Mitt Romney get to deliver in front of the largest audience of the entire campaign? None. Not a single one.
President Obama did not let the debate move to the 47% video where Mitt Romney could have looked in the camera made his appeal to the American voters. Nor did Mitt Romney get to talk to Latinos, or women, or auto workers. Instead, Mitt was claiming his tax plan would be “revenue neutral,” and admitting he would turn Medicare into a voucher program.
That’s right, of all the issues dragging the Romney campaign down and allowing President Obama to build large leads in nearly every swing state, none were really discussed at Wednesday’s debate. Instead they talked Dodd-Frank. How many women and Latinos, and even men were swayed by which Dodd-Frank regulation was good, and which should go.
Even Chris Matthews, who seems to forget everything he learned in the political game, spent today lamenting the fact that President Obama “lost” the debate. Ed Shultz and Rachel Maddow were beside themselves with anguish. But with every single issue that created the lead President Obama held before Wednesday night, nothing has changed.
Anyone who believed that it would have been easy for the President Obama to merely bring up the issues that Mitt Romney was most prepared for to put this campaign away, were really just wishful thinking.
No, the President was not going to be able to end this election with over 30 days left, but given that Romney was unable to address the issues that have been the most damaging to his campaign, maybe it’s time to rethink the whole of idea of how we decide winners and losers in debates.