Presidential debate: Think tanks react

October 17, 2012

Tuesday night’s second presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney was live-blogged or live-tweeted by almost every think tank. It was easy to focus on the explosive nature during much of the debate, but now think tank experts are writing analyses beyond the 140 characters.


“I think President Obama lost the debate last night, not because he screwed up, but because the whole debate was so damn boring. I’m an Obama fan, and I turned it off at 9:37 to go read a book, which turned out to be a better use of my time,” writes CNAS’s Tom Ricks

“President Obama owned Governor Romney in their second debate on issues of foreign policy, women, immigration, and the 47 percent. He even leveled a fatal blow regarding Benghazi. Don’t get me wrong: Mitt was no wimp, and Obama was no progressive, but Obama had the better plans, the better attacks, and the better handle on the truth than Romney,” writes Karen Dolan of the Institute for Policy Studies. 

AEI’s Michael Barone, writing in the Washington Examiner, took a broad view, critiquing both President Obama and Mitt Romney, but this was striking: “Romney missed some chances. There wasn’t much on Obamacare (except for Romney bizarrely bringing it up in his closing statement). He didn’t hit Libya as hard as he could have, and Crowley wrongly suggested that Obama in his Rose Garden statement attributed the attack to terrorism. He simply said that we would always oppose acts of terrorism. Two weeks later he was still mentioning the offensive-to-Muslims video six times in his United Nations speech. Romney made that point, but not nearly as well as he could have. Obama talked a couple of times about his green energy programs. But Romney never hit Obama on the Solyndra bankruptcy or the bankruptcy of another green energy firm A123 Systems this week. Was his team concentrating so hard on debate prep that they didn’t read this week’s news stories?”

The Heritage Foundation posted “The 5 Most Misleading Statements from the Second Presidential Debate.” Four of the five, in their estimation, came from President Obama. The one from Mitt Romney (“Romney inflates the alleged effect of Chinese currency manipulation on U.S. job growth.”) was likely included because it had the potential to take pressure off the Obama administration on jobs. 

For their part, ThinkProgress writes that “Mitt Romney told 31 myths in 41 minutes.” 

AEI’s Jim Pethokoukis didn’t see much substance from Obama when it comes to solving the problems with the economy: “Obama, shorter: stop Benedict Arnold CEOS, more clean energy industrial policy, and implement the Buffett rule. That’s it, really. I mean, good heavens, if those are the answers, “How should America deal with its structural economic problems and create jobs?” can’t possibly be the questions.”

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Allen McDuffee · October 17, 2012