Of Donkeys and Elephants: Governer Romney Sets High Standards in First Debate

As the candidates took the stage for the first presidential debate, the suspense was rather high. Debates can be game changers for some presidential elections. This is a close election with very few votes left up for grabs. The question of who won the debate according to the candidate’s party is usually irrelevant; each party will spin the argument to say their candidate did better. Most everyone, including liberals such as Bill Maher and James Carville, said Romney won. The argument coming from the Democratic Party is Romney lied every moment he was talking. He took up most of the debate time. He was dishonest and a flip flopper. They said nothing about how President Obama rarely even looked at Romney throughout the entire debate—nor to the American people while he was making his closing statement. He seemed like he was disinterested in being there, and did not even confront Romney when he was lying. In all honesty, Obama had more than ample opportunity to point out Romney’s lies—but he didn’t. Whether it is because he was unprepared or the allegations Romney lying was untrue, it is up to the voters in the end to determine that, not the parties.

Romney was far more personal with the American people. He commented on how people are really hurting in this country. That’s why he is running for president. He combated the president’s remark of how companies get a tax break for shipping jobs overseas by using his personal experience. These are the types of comments people understand, and they identify with them because they get at the core of the problems with politics these days—which is when politicians stop acting like real people and more like robots.

Obama lacked passion in his argument to the American people. For the people who elected him for the hope and change he promised, they did not see it Wednesday night in the debate with Romney. Instead, they saw a man who was disinterested in making the people aware of the job he has done and how the country has benefited from it.

Romney knew that he needed to not just win the debate but win big. He took every opportunity he had to combat what Obama was saying. Rather than be an attack dog and go after Obama personally, he was strategic. He presented his case in a way that people can really understand.

The closing arguments were both very different on behalf of the candidates. While Romney hit it out of the ballpark, it was as if Obama barely went to bat.

Romney looked directly out in the audience and conveyed why America needs a strong military, religious tolerance, and most importantly that the path the country is on is not working and that it is time for a new path. The last line of keeping America strong, and getting the middle class working again, summed up everything he was trying to convey to the American people throughout the debate.

Obama looked away from camera, until about the last 10 seconds of his closing statement. He talked about cutting the deficit, building a better future, and went into a long rendition of investment needed in education. Toward the end he was pleading with America to vote for him. It didn’t look like the hope and change that rallied Americans across every political spectrum just four years ago.

In the coming weeks, there will be two more presidential debates as well as a vice presidential debate. If Obama does not want a repeat of this debate he is going to have to have a lot more passion in what he is trying to say. He needs to give people a reason to believe in him again. A dispassionate man who seems uninterested in fighting for his presidency is not going to get people to turn out the way they did in 2008.

BY ALI BOETTCHER boett098@d.umn.edu

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