Well. That was better, wasn’t it?
President Obama clearly won tonight’s debate, and that’s judging by more than the look on Ann Romney’s face at the end. Tonight, Obama was aggressive, but not disrespectful, repeatedly scoring points on virtually every question — from taxes to women’s health to immigration.
As the debate went on, Mitt Romney’s jauntiness drained away. First, he became petulant with moderator Candy Crowley and then with the president, asking, “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?” in an angry and late response to an earlier exchange on Chinese investment. This not only made Romney look petty, but it also allowed Obama to get an audible laugh from the audience when he said, “It’s not as big as yours.”
Later, in an unprecedented move (in my experience), Crowley corrected Romney’s assertion that the president hadn’t called the Libyan incident a “act of terror.” Devastating.
On question after question, Obama took it to Romney. On Romney’s differences with President George W. Bush, Obama said that their economic plans are the same but that Romney is more to the right on immigration and women’s health. On Romney’s “five-point plan,” Obama remarked, “Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.” On Romney’s tax plan, the president said, “You wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up.”
On immigration, Obama noted that Romney’s chief adviser on that issue is the major architect of the controversial Arizona law. When Romney effectively critiqued the Obama record, the president countered well and did a good job of taking the race to the future, nailing Romney as a “me too” rubber stamp for the obstructionist Republicans in Congress.
We will soon hear the Republican howls that the questions from the audience were biased against their guy and that Crowley favored Obama. But those are the cries of a loser.