Strimling’s blow-by-blow analysis and final thoughts on the debate

Last night, as President Obama and Governor Romney battled it out over domestic issues in the second of three debates Ethan Strimling live blogged his reaction to the debate and both candidates. His posts and final thoughts below.

Final Thoughts: My analogy to the Rumble in the Jungle appears to be playing out. Obama rope-a-doped the first debate and got pummeled. This second debate, he came off the ropes and started winning more than he was losing. In the third round, Monday night, watch for the knockout punches. In specific regarding last night, here’s my scorecard.

  • On content in general, I would say they were a tie. (1 point Romney, 1 point Obama)
  • On presentation/likeability, Obama won hands down. (1 point Obama)
  • On mistakes, Romney had many more so Obama won. (1 point Obama)
  • On women’s issues, Obama won easily. (1 point Obama)
  • On the economy, Romney won based on his answers to the taxes question and his response to the man who said he voted for Obama in 2008. (1 point Romney)
  • On Libya, Obama crushed it. (1 point Obama)
  • On guns, they were both pathetic and neither gets credit. (No points)
  • On closing comments, Obama knocked out of the park.  (1 point Obama)

So, all in all, I score it Obama 6, Romney 2. That sounds like more of a landslide than I think it was, but that’s because some of the Obama wins were pretty close.

9:53 PM EST — Romney has been waiting all night for this question on dissapointment of the Obama years. Very well connected answer. This speech will be quoted all over the news in the morning.

9:37 PM EST — Way too much fighting and bickering.

9:27 PM EST — Neither candidate is connecting much with the audience, or connecting their answers to real struggles. Too wonky and too much sparring with each other.

9:22 PM EST — “First you say coal kills. Now you say you’re a coal man.” Paraphrase of Obama’s statement to Romney. Ouch.

9:16 PM EST — You can tell early that Obama came ready to play. Romney as well.

9:13 PM EST  Romney response on GM bancruptcy unclear. Obama very strong in response. Tore Romney apart in showing the difference between the way Romney would have handled GM and how Obama would have. Romney would have let it collapse. Obama kept it open.

9:05 PM EST  Obama coming out swinging. Jabs Romney right off, pivots quickly to his accomplishments and what’s next.

9:05 PM EST  Romney again starts out strong. Relaxed, clear, and connected to the question. Wandered a little. 

7:35 PM EST  Finished giving a speech to Scarborough Rotary at 7:10. Earthquake hit a couple minutes later. Definitely a sign that Obama is coming on strong tonight. 

5:13 PM EST — My early take on the debate tonight is that Romney simply needs a tie to keep the narrative and momentum going his way. Obama needs to win this round to change the dynamic. It doesn’t have to be a knock-out, but he clearly has to show his strength, Romney’s weaknesses, and be precise in their policy differences. A loss or simply a tie tonight and Obama is in for a rough few weeks.

I would add that I don’t think Obama wins by beating up on Romney. He needs to defend his own record, be clear on where he will lead, and pressure Romney to be specific. If he is too negative, it will backfire.