Romney takes fight to Obama
Republican candidate Mitt Romney overturned the presidential race last night in a stunning victory over US president Barack Obama in the first of their three debates.
A CNN/ORC post-debate poll showed that 67 per cent of viewers believed Mr Romney won the debate on domestic policy. Only 25 per cent said Mr Obama won.
“A week ago, people were saying this was over,” said David Gergen, a political consultant and former advisor to four presidents. “Americans thought two to one that the president would win the debate, and he lost. Now the race is back on.”
From the outset, Mr Romney gave the impression he enjoyed the confrontation with Mr Obama, whom he watched closely, with a smug grin, throughout the 90 minute debate. Mr Obama almost never looked at Mr Romney, and gave the impression he wished he were elsewhere.
In his opening remarks, Mr Obama wished his wife Michelle a happy 20th wedding anniversary, calling her “Sweetie” and promising that “a year from now, we will not be celebrating in front of 40 million people”.
The joke fell flat, but was retrieved by Mr Romney, who prompted the heartiest laughter of the evening when he congratulated the Obamas. “I’m sure this was the most romantic place you could imagine, being here with me,” he told Mr Obama.
Mr Obama’s lacklustre performance may have been the result of nearly four years in the White House, unchallenged by sycophantic aides. His facial expressions seemed to indicate annoyance, irritation, even outrage at what Mr Romney was saying, yet he never attacked the Republican challenger.
In his moment of greatest exasperation, Mr Obama said, “Governor Romney says he is going to replace (heathcare reform) with something, but he can’t detail how it would be replaced… it reminds me of when he says he is going to close loopholes and deductions for his tax plan, but we don’t know the details… Is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans secret because they are too good?”
Mr Obama did not once mention the “47 per cent video” in which Mr Romney said “it’s not my job to worry about” nearly half of Americans who pay no income tax.
After months during which his campaign hammered away at heartless practices at Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mr Romney, Mr Obama never mentioned Bain. He did not allude to Mr Romney’s refusal to release more than two years’ income tax returns. Nor did he point out that under Mr Romney, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states for job creation.
Mr Romney successfully executed the “Etch-a-Sketch” erasure that one of his top aides predicted during the Republican primaries, portraying himself as the defender of the middle classes, the saviour of Medicare (government health insurance for the elderly) and a champion of bi-partisan cooperation.
Mr Romney said he takes the reference to the “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence to mean “that we care for one another. We are a nation that believes we are all children of God. We care for one another.”