After all the hype the first (of three) US Presidential debate between incumbent Barack Obama and the Republican candidate Mitt Romney concluded last night. The focus of the ninety minute debate was US domestic issues. Romney was the clear winner.
Romney has been falling behind significantly in the polls recently but last night he made a theatrical and effective pitch for President to the American voters. He was clear, succinct, aggressive and came well prepared. The same cannot be said for President Obama whose performance was lack lustre, bumbling at times and his delivery was just flat.
The body language from both men was telling. Romney maintained eye contact with the President during the debate. Obama on the other hand decided to look at the cameras whenever he spoke which just did not look right or respectful of his opponent and was just a bad idea. I cannot believe anyone was paid to advise Obama on applying this camera technique. This was not American Idol, Mr President. It was so school boyish.
Romney came with a clear strategy and dominated the conversation. At times he even had some control over the moderator for the debate, Jim Lehrer.
Even if there were points raised and policies promised by Romney that if fact-checked will prove to be untrue, Romney was the more convincing debater and would have impressed those waivering Republicans and the undecided Americans that matter to his campaign. Romney went for the populist approach as the whole point of the election is to win and nothing else matters. E.g. Romney denied that he would cut the taxes of the higher income earner. Hmmm
Obama looked lost without a teleprompter. He was at his best when defending Medicare. But apart from those series of exchanges the President had too many “errs” & “urms” in the middle of his sentences which lost any fluency to the points he raised.
Obama was passive and failed to raise issues that have plagued Romney such as the recent 47% video clip. How did Obama not land a blow on this issue which had virtually killed any chance of Romney winning the election? Until last night. But Obama’s performance has now breathed new life into the Romney campaign. I would hate to watch Fox News now.
The next debate will be on 11 October in Kentucky and will focus on foreign and domestic policy. By then the President needs to wake up and give a performance which will cement his chance of a second term in the Oval Office. Obama will need to abandon his rope- a-dope strategy (i.e.Ali vs Foreman) and land some telling and effective blows on Ronmey from the start. I know Obama can as he has repeatedly overcome major obstacles/doubts of others to get to where he is today. But the turnaround from Obama needs to be dramatic.
Obama needs to communicate in a clear, passionate and concise manner. He also needs to avoid coming across as professorial. It will be interesting to see what the poll figures will be over the next 5 days.
The first debate was not as dynamic and engaging as I thought it would be. I felt to cover domestic issues and not even debate immigration was a big surprise. Maybe Samuel L Jackson needs to knock on Obama’s bedroom door and deliver this message.