By Emily Judd
With more than 58 million people tuning into the first presidential debate between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, there were bound to be many opinions. However there seems to be a general consensus regarding the overall outcome of the debate: Romney was the winner. According to a CNN poll, about two-thirds of viewers thought Romney was more successful in the first of three presidential debates. Many factors contributed to Romney’s success.
The first question from moderator Jim Lehrer, “What are major differences between the two of you for creating jobs?” set the tone for the entire debate. President Obama answered first and summarized the hardships of the past four years, reiterating the same solution he proposed four years ago. He mentioned reducing the $16 trillion plus deficit. It took Obama too long to answer the question – he seemed to be rambling. In contrast, Romney’s response started off strong and without hesitation. He cited stories of Americans he talked with during his campaign trail, their struggles, and how “it’s going to take a different path, not the one we’ve been on.” Romney then went into his five-point plan for creating jobs – achieving energy independence, improving education and job training, stand up to China’s unfair international trade practices, reducing the deficit, and eliminating regulations on small businesses. There were no pauses as he ticked off these points. He countered Obama’s reference to the deficit, mentioning that Obama planned to cut the deficit in half four years ago, but instead doubled it during his presidency.
Throughout the debate, Romney mentioned personal stories of Americans and his specific plan towards change. His debate style was confident and unwavering. President Obama seemed uncertain and took longer to explain his ideas.
This shocked many viewers. According to the same CNN poll, more than 60 percent of viewers thought President Obama did worse than expected. President Obama’s body language also suggested he was uncomfortable during the debate. During Romney’s responses, Obama barely made eye contact and rarely looked up. In comparison, Romney often looked directly into the camera during the President’s answers.
Romney also took advantage of the President’s record of failures. Being able to refer to the President’s unsuccessful policies undermined the credibility of any future plan Obama articulated. When the President mentioned lowering the deficit, Romney brought up the fact that the President had his chance to lower the deficit, but instead he doubled it. Obama had no response.
Besides using the President’s own leadership decisions against him, Romney used past examples of his good leadership skills to great effect. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney eliminated a $3 billion deficit. He also lowered the unemployment rate from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent.
Romney’s powerful debate style, talented leadership and facts meant Obama, a well-spoken but ineffectual incumbent, never stood a chance. Though much of the media claims President Obama just had a “bad night,” I was left thinking he had a bad four years.