Both Parties are trying to dampen expectations by lavishing praises on the other candidate’s debating skills. This strategy is so uncanny and devoid of subtlety that it highlights the enormity of what’s at stake during this upcoming Presidential Debate for both President Obama and Gov. Romney. Historically, Presidential Debates aren’t known to sway public opinion or turn an election one way or the other.
For most Americans, by the time the debate comes along, they would have already made up their minds on the candidate of their choice. Furthermore, a third of the Country would have already voted before election day, due to early voting, a fact which isn’t lost on the Romney Campaign. The only time in recent memory when a Presidential Debate has significantly influenced the outcome of an election was the year 1960 (Kennedy vs. Nixon) and 2000 (Bush vs. Gore).
President Obama has a lot more to lose from this upcoming debate on Wednesday October 3, 2012. He can’t afford the perception that he is just trying to sit on a lead by giving a mediocre performance at the debates, for fear that he may give Gov. Romney the opening which has eluded him throughout this campaign. Though President Obama is a good debater, he also has weaknesses that might manifest themselves on Wednesday.
Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama lacks simplicity, that ability to explain complicated issues to regular folks in a way they can understand. He tends to be professorial and at times speaks in convoluted sentences. Governor Romney also has his debate flaws; he has the tendency to get visibly irritated when backed into a corner.His futile attempts at comedy are often fodder for late night comics. The man is extremely uncongenial to most regular folks and it occasionally shows when he’s engaging an audience.
His wealth is a campaign issue not because it’s a dis-qualifier. Many U.S presidents have indeed been wealthy men; for example, FDR, the Kennedy brothers, the Bushes, etc. It’s an issue precisely because unlike the former Presidents mentioned, there is a perception that Governor Romney isn’t empathetic towards the plight of the poor. Many believe that his policies favor the rich at the expense of the poor and middle-class. “Romney-Hood” or “Robin Hood in reverse,” as President Obama Derisively called it – an image he will need to shake off come November.
Nevertheless, I expect the President to bring his “A Game” during the debate. Like a shark, I suspect he has smelled blood in the water, and will proceed to attack Gov. Romney on many of his uncomplimentary remarks, most notably, the 47% comment and the vagueness of his Tax Plan. According to Gov. Romney, his words were taken out of context. But when he was asked to clarify, his explanation was unconvincing as evident by tracking polls showing a dip in the Governor’s number since he made those disparaging remarks.
Gov. Romney will have the hardest task at the debates. His job is to turn the tide against a popular, well spoken President Obama, a man who defeated one of the best political machines perhaps in all of American Politics, the Clinton’s, and decisively handed John McCain defeat during the general election. Mitt Romney himself is a skilled Debater, though he touts his career in business as his signature accomplishment, he has also been in the political arena since 1994.
Zingers can make or break a candidate; one of the most famous, or shall I say infamous moments in presidential debate history was the Vice Presidential debate between (R) Dan Quayle and (D) Lloyd Bentsen in 1988. The Senator from Indiana, Dan Quayle was facing a barrage of questions from the moderators about his experience and preparedness for the office. In which he replied, “I have as much experience as Jack Kennedy did when he first sought the Presidency. Sen. Bentsen from Texas, like a witty politician, pounced, saying:
“Senator, “I served with Jack Kennedy; I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.”
The audience roared with deafening applause, because Sen. Bentsen exposed the prevailing narrative held by many about Sen. Quayle, that he was way too conservative to ever be mention in the same sentence as Jack Kennedy. Dan Quayle could not recover and has since been relegated to the Halls of the infamous.
Lastly, these upcoming debates shall be akin to pugilism for political junkies like me all around the country. If Gov. Romney tries to double down on his 47% comment, any hope of defeating president Obama will be swept up in the ineptness of his political campaign. But I suspect Gov. Romney will be a formidable opponent. He will have to be; especially being a political contortionist to-boot. It’s a major challenge defending ones political views when he or she changes their position where-ever the political wind blows. Mitt Romney is a Conservative by convenience. These upcoming debate are a must win for him because the President only need to ride the wave, gaffe free.