Debate Summarized in Two Sentences – President Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter admitted to CNN after the debate, "And I think that Mitt Romney, yes, he absolutely wins the preparation. And he wins the style points."
Quick Hit Poll – According to a CNN survey conducted immediately after the debate, 67% of debate watchers said Mitt Romney was victorious, with only one in four saying President Obama won the debate. No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984. http://bit.ly/O6x4Td
Debate Recap – Maybe it was because the Romney campaign had lowered debate expectations for the Republican nominee all week. Or because President Obama had triumphed so mightily during his head-to-head showdowns with John McCain in 2008. Or because Romney has been trailing far behind in most swing state polls, after a tough month of September in which he committed missteps galore (namely, the 47% comment). Whatever the reason, Mitt Romney surprised liberals and conservatives alike last night, as he emerged as the clear victor in the first presidential debate against President Obama in Denver. It was a dry, wonky, and at times very boring debate with very few gaffes or zingers. But, President Obama came out flat and seemed outmatched for the majority of the evening. Even in his expressions and mannerisms, Obama seemed aloof, even disinterested; he failed to make eye contact with Romney and often displayed a smirk which came off as arrogant. Whether this debate influences independent voters in swing states remains to be seen. But, it's safe to say Obama did not display his usual gusto and rhetorical prowess. It will be a horse race until the finish.
Key Moments – For a full interactive replay (including video, fact checks, and graphics) of the debate, check out the NY Times coverage here. Here were some of the most interesting moments: MITT ROMNEY: "Under the president's policies, middle-income Americans have been buried … They're just being crushed. Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. … I'll call it the economy tax. It's been crushing. The same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president, electric rates are up, food prices are up, health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. Middle-income families are being crushed."
MITT ROMNEY: "So you may keep referring to it as a $5 trillion tax cut, but that's not my plan. ... My plan is not like anything that's been tried before. My plan is to bring down rates, but also bring down deductions and exemptions and credits at the same time so the revenue stays in, but that we bring down rates to get more people working. My priority is putting people back to work in America."
MITT ROMNEY: "What things would I cut from spending? … Obamacare is on my list. I apologize, Mr. President. I use that term with all respect. … [To moderator Jim Lehrer, executive editor of PBS ‘NewsHour’:] I’m sorry, Jim. I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. … I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But … I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it. …"
MITT ROMNEY: "[Y]ou said you get a deduction for getting a plant overseas. Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant. … [W]hat we're seeing right now is, in my view, a trickle-down government approach."
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "F]or 18 months, he's been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big, bold idea is: ‘Never mind’ … [I]t is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. … It's math. It's arithmetic."
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “I have become fond of this term, Obamacare. [Laughter] … [F]our years ago when I was running for office I was traveling around and having those same conversations that Governor Romney talks about. … I had five seconds before you interrupted me.”
How it Played – Both liberals and conservatives agree that Romney trounced Obama last night:Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol: "Mitt Romney stood and delivered the best debate performance by a Republican candidate in more than two decades." The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan: "Man, Obama is boring and abstract. He's putting us to sleep. I get his points but he is entirely wonky tonight. And he is on the defensive." Slate's Dave Weigel: "Romney's 1-2-3 listmaking is more effective than Obama's and-and-and-ing." MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "I don't know what [President Obama] was doing out there, he had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it." HBO's Bill Maher: "I can't believe I'm saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter."
Response from Team Obama – From the campaign: "Tonight, President Obama reminded Americans that Mitt Romney has refused to provide any specifics or details about his policies - in fact, his advisors said it would be "suicidal" to detail his plans for the country because of the political ramifications if Americans knew the truth about what they entailed." ThinkProgress: "At last night's debate, Romney told 27 myths in 38 minutes." CNN's David Gergen: "Romney was just sort of flat out lying." Slate's Matt Yglesias: "Romney's tax plan is basically 2+2=5."
Worst Performance of the Night – (via Common Dreams) "I’ll leave it to the horserace pundits to decide who won tonight’s debate and to the voters to decide who will win the election. I know who lost: Jim Lehrer, PBS, old media and the myth of the “sensible center.” Tonight’s moderator, Jim Lehrer, got utterly, totally, savagely pwned. The Lehrer/PBS school of moderation is fundamentally unequipped to deal with the era of post-truth, asymmetric polarization politics—and it should be retired. Time and time again, Romney deviated from the positions he took to win the GOP primary, and neither Lehrer nor Obama was able to effectively press him on it. Obama at least tried, at times. The gulf between political reality and mainstream media mores has never seemed so wide and unbridgeable. Frankly, I came away with one new opinion, and that was to agree with Mitt Romney that PBS should go. (Big Bird, I’ll rethink this in the AM.)"
Tracking the #Debates – The debate was the most tweeted U.S. political event of all time, generating more than 10.3 million Tweets in just 90 minutes. During the DNC Convention, there were just 9.5 millon Tweets over the course of three days. The most-tweeted moment? 158,690 Tweets were sent in a single minute following moderator Jim Lehrer's ‘Let's not’ reply to Governor Romney. Track the debate on Twitter here.
Next on Deck – The next debate will take place on October 11 at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. It is the only vice presidential debate of the campaign and will be moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
Non Debate Story of the Day – Facebook has reached the milestone of 1 billion active users, just eight years after CEO Mark Zuckerberg started the site in his Harvard dorm room. To celebrate its milestone, the company released its first ad campaign, a 90-second film which compares Facebook to chairs, bridges, basketball, and other vehicles that bring people together. The campaign will roll out in 13 countries, including the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and Spain.
A Milestone Night for PolicyMic! Thanks to our incredible pundits, editors, and web team, yesterday was the most successful day in terms of traffic in PolicyMic history. With the help of 37 pundit live bloggers and all the rockstar editors, we drew in close to 250,000 unique views in a single day, shattering our previous record during the DNC and RNC Conventions. At one point in the evening, we had close to 10,000 people on the site at a single time, a testament to the hard work we've all put in to make PolicyMic a special place. In the last month, we've had over 2 million unique visitors to the site! We want to say a big thank you to all the amazing pundits who made last night a smashing success, including: Lydia Austin, Rebekah Sherman Brown, Amy Sterling Casil, Siv Cheruvu, James Connolly, John Doble, Joseph Doolen, Mariah Dunsing, Grant Ferowich, Frank Hagler, Courtney Hodrick, Adam Jutha, Sonja Karnovsky, Mark Kogan, Nomiki Konst, Robert Lee, Karl Lindemann, Valiant Lowitz, Max Markham, Christopher McDaniel, Jillian McLaughlin, Jesse Merkel, Derek Miles, Belinda Moreira, Logan Nee, Nathaniel Reid, Dustin Riedesel, Matt Rozsa, Joe Sarkisian, George Shunick, Lee Storrow, Nathan Stringer, Robert Taylor, Alina Tsui, James Velasquez, Edward Williams, Zaid Zaid, Jasper Zweibel.
Top Stories from PolicyMic – When We Get Over Our Debate Hangover, We'll Realize Romney Was All Lies (Mark Kogan) – Mitt Romney should enjoy his success while he can, because his unbelievably bold-faced lies and half-truths are going to hammer him in the closing weeks of the election.
Mitt Romney Won the Debate: Obama is Too Nice, Allows Romney to Get Away With Lies (Edward Williams) – President Obama continues to lack aggression in his governance and in so doing, he allowed Romney to come out on top as the winner.
Even Obama Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter Thinks Mitt Romney Won the Debate (Siv Cheruvu) – Romney's performance at the first presidential debate was great, but he needs to be even more dominating in the next two debates if he's serious about winning.
What Ron Paul Would Have Said: Why Paul Would Have Crushed Obama Had He Been in the Debate (Robert Taylor) – A debate between Ron Paul and President Obama would actually have given the American people a real choice.
Obama Gets Schooled on Solyndra and Social Security (Rebekah Sherman Brown) – Score one for the Stormin' Mormon. Mitt Romney came away the winner in the first debate in Denver, and here is why.
What We're Reading – An unhelpful presidential debate (NY Times); Body language expert: Romney "hyperactive" and Obama "measured" (The Daily Beast); Big Bird takes to Twitter, is upset with Romney (Buzzfeed); Obama's heart is not in it (The Atlantic); The Romney cure for Obama-induced economic ills (Wall Street Journal); Who would be better for the arts? (Flavorwire); Lee Boyd Malvo, the DC sniper, 10 years after the shootings (Washington Post); Arrested Development's new season: everything you need to know (Splitsider); Who will win a nobel prize this year? (Slate).