Obama went aggressive – and looked offensive
By Janet Daley US politics Last updated: October 17th, 2012
So he decided to make up for being too passive last time. That was predictable enough. In fact, everybody and his wife was predicting that Barack Obama would go on the offence for this one and that's exactly what he did. But there is an important difference between between being on the offensive and being offensive which his advisers seemed to have missed. Time and again, he interrupted both Romney and the chairman. He may not have sniggered and laughed out loud but there was definitely an air of the Joe Biden playbook here.
It was a messier debate all around with questions coming from unexpected (and some will argue, tangential) directions. But the important fact was that Romney won on points and on manner. He remained calm and fluent – even under provocation – and seemed completely secure in his grasp of detail. Obama was defensive (understandably perhaps because he is the incumbent having to defend his record) but more significantly, he did not seem to have the command of fact that his opponent had. The President often hesitated and appeared to lose focus – a trait which has been noted before when he speaks off the cuff. In what looked like desperation in the final moments, he fell back on a reminder of the infamous Romney "47 per cent" gaffe. This looked cheap, considering that it is now very old news which has been buried by Romney's later performances.
Perhaps the most telling remark that Romney made was that the President was "great as a speaker" – that his vision for America was fine but that his policies did not work. There is the nub of it: what has been wrong with the Obama presidency is that it has been all rhetoric and very little effectual action. And what action there has been – on Obamacare – will discourage job creation and slow the the growth of the economy. The Republican contender only needed a draw to maintain his momentum but he got a win. Round two to Romney.