There is no question that America loves a good comeback and Tuesday night's Presidential debate was in fact a comeback for President Barack Obama. Orchestrated or not, the polls taken right after the debate indicate that the President won the night over GOP challenger Mitt Romney, a marked improvement to his lackluster performance two weeks ago in Colorado. Many in the GOP disagree with the poll, feeling Romney stayed true to his convictions and may have garnered more support among undecided voters.
Everyone following the debate was looking to see if Obama would be more energetic and take the fight to his opponent. He did not disappoint, demonstrating poise and aggression as if his job depended on it, which it does. In turn, everyone was also looking to see if Romney would waiver and fall to a more alert and astute Obama, which he didn't do, making this one of the most enjoyable debates in recent times. So what differentiated the two in the testosterone filled hall at Hofstra University? Substance.
Prior to the debate, a Gallup poll indicated that Romney and Obama are in a virtual tie with Romney leading in the key state of Ohio. His continued attack of Obama's economic policies over the last four years have been relentless throughout the campaign and Tuesday was no different, putting the President on a defensive mode. It took Obama almost ten minutes before responding to those attacks, calling Romney a "liar." Name calling in politics is a sign of weakness and frustration, and Obama's name-calling didn't resonate well with undecided voters.
Romney is the most experienced of the two candidates in handling economic development having run a very successful business, managed the 2002 Winter Olympics, and as governor of the state of Massachusetts. He hammered the President for bailing out an imploding auto industry instead of letting it go into bankruptcy and allow private investors to help. Not letting Obama off the economic canvas, he pummeled him with unemployment statistics and the high price of energy. He even touted the idea of expanding trade with Latin American countries, something every President has done except for Obama. Finally, he explained without mincing words the need to control pricing and trade with China, which has had its free hand with Obama. But, not every punch Romney threw worked.
Obama is better at social issues and his responses on the questions of equal pay and immigration were what women and Hispanics wanted to hear. Unfortunately, those responses, and the Libya response, were his best moments and they will be the ones to get the most media play. Otherwise, he continuously attacked Romney's economic plans without sharing any strategy about how he plans to repair the economy or the nation if reelected.
Obama needed a win and he got one, but that doesn't translate into new votes. Romney did well and it does not appear he lost any votes. On the contrary, he may have gained votes among those who are looking for economic relief. The next debate, scheduled for Monday, October 11, 2012, will be on foreign policy, and could be a deal breaker for both candidates among undecided voters. Some of us also hope they discuss an obvious missing point: How they will work with Congress.