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1.) Mitt’s massacre — It was hard to tell Wednesday night if it was President Obama on stage or Clint Eastwood’s empty chair. TheDC’s Alexis Levinson reports from Denver on Mitt Romney’s Wednesday night triumph:
“Mitt Romney came out the winner of the first presidential debate with President Barack Obama, a fact even Obama surrogates were unable to fully spin … Romney was aggressive; he made his arguments cleanly and without hesitation. He repeatedly asserted himself, even interrupting moderator Jim Lehrer, to ensure that he responded to the president’s remarks. Obama, by contrast, seemed hesitant and almost tentative. Where Romney launched straight in to his answers, the president stuttered, and rambled at the start of his answers, as though struggling to figure out what point he ought to make. Romney regularly directed his comments against the President, Obama several times turned to the American people, asking, ‘Does anybody out there think…?’”
At times, you expected him to ask and answer, “Does anybody out there think I’m winning this debate? Let me be clear: I’m not.”
2.) A zinger-free festivity — We were told that we were going to get a lot of zingers at Wednesday night’s debate, but they must have been well hidden, because TheDC Morning hardly saw any. President Obama delivered close to none, reports Jim Antle for The Daily Caller News Foundation:
“A debate that was expected to be full of ‘zingers’ was surprisingly zing-free Wednesday night. But it was President Barack Obama who was most reluctant to bring out his signature lines of attack during his first head-to-head exchange with Republican challenger Mitt Romney … There wasn’t a single mention of Bain Wednesday night, even when Romney appeared to walk right into one during a debate over tax breaks for companies that export American jobs … One popular debate drinking game encouraged viewers to finish their drinks if Obama brought up Romney’s secretly videotaped comments about the ’47 percent.’ But players went thirsty: Obama didn’t make a single reference to the controversy.”
Maybe next time Obama will bring the zing — if not, perhaps he ought to starting fixing up the Chicago house for his return.
3.) The Chris Matthews Test — If you’re President Obama and you lose Chris Matthews, it’s pretty clear you lost the debate. TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein (ME!) reports:
“On television and on Twitter, President Obama’s most fervent liberal backers in the media lamented the president’s performance in the first presidential debate in Denver, Colo … Liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who once declared he had a tingle go up his leg from merely listening to a speech from President Obama, had a similar assessment. ‘What was Romney doing tonight, he was winning,’ Matthews declared. ‘If he gets five more of these nights, forget it.’… [Liberal Daily Beast columnist Andrew] Sullivan even suggested Wednesday night’s performance may have lost the election for the president. ‘How is Obama’s closing so fucking sad, confused, lame? He choked. He lost. He may even have lost election tonight,’ he tweeted.”
The president getting kicked by Andrew Sullivan? Andrew Sullivan!? Ouch. That’s nearly as bad as if Mitt got ripped by John Sununu — or a hundred dollar bill.
4.) Mitt moving on up — TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein (ME!) opines on the significance of Romney’s victory:
“By halfway into the debate, viewers were surely hoping for the equivalent of a Little League mercy rule to kick in. Romney pounded away on the president while he hardly fought back. He was listless and weak. There could be no spinning it: President Obama lost and lost bad. In one evening, Romney may have partially erased the Obama campaign’s effort define him as a rapacious businessman who only cares about rich people. The charge didn’t ring true Wednesday night. Romney came across as a serious man bearing facts … Many fellow pundits were quick to say in the run up to the debates that presidential debates rarely make a big difference. That may be true, until they do. And there is no question that Wednesday night’s debate, which was likely the most watched event of the campaign season thus far, will cause the polls to narrow in Romney’s favor — perhaps significantly so.”
5.) Poll of the Day: Debate watchers swayed by Romney — CNN poll on Wednesday night’s debate: 35 percent said debate made them more likely to vote for Mitt Romney, 18 percent said it made them more likely to vote for President Obama, while 47 percent said it had no effect on their vote.