Andrew Sullivan walks back his anti-Obama screed from first debate

Jeff Poor | Media Reporter

Andrew Sullivan, the liberal writer who declared President Barack Obama the first “gay president,” only to be devastated by his performance in the first presidential debate earlier this month, declared anew his admiration for Obama in an appearance on MSNBC’s post-debate wrap-up.

“I saw the person I first saw in 2007,” Sullivan said. “I saw the guy I watched get health care reform passed. I saw the guy who lifted the ban on gays in the military. I saw the guy who turned the economy around tonight. I saw the president I thought I knew and I didn’t see last time. And I am bloody elated. Let me put it that way. I’m elated he’s back and has got the momentum. And he took it to him, in terms of substance and style. He was so calm. He leaned forward. He smiled. Romney seemed desperate and was called out in several obvious — not implicit, but obvious — lies. Every ball that Obama could have hit last time and missed, he hit this time. I’m thrilled.”

Sullivan was asked by host Chris Matthews if he thought the momentum was back with Obama.

“I can’t know that for sure,” Sullivan said. “I was almost disoriented by what happened the last time. I felt like the reality I seen had disappeared. But tonight, no. This is the president we wanted, the change we believed in. And I do think that it will revive spirits, and I think revive morale, and I think he’s going to come kicking back in the polls. And I think he will do so on the basis of substance. His policies add up. Romney’s don’t add up. And that’s clear to me.”

Sullivan was also asked to critique and compare the debate moderating styles of CNN’s Candy Crowley, ABC’s Martha Raddatz and PBS’s Jim Lehrer. Sullivan said he preferred Raddatz, but gave Crowley high marks for challenging Romney when he insisted the president had not called the Benghazi attack a terrorist incident.

“I think Martha [Raddatz] was the best, to be honest with you,” Sullivan said. “The fact that Candy Crowley fact-checked instantly a candidate in live time was what journalism is about. … She fought back, and I thought she did an admirable job. But I must say, the way Romney constantly cut her off and cut the president off and interrupted and at one point basically heckled the president in the middle of an answer, made him look slightly desperate.”

“And I think the big meme on the incident is that he had that binder full of women that he had,” Sullivan continued. “That’s that meme that’s going on around right now. I think that whatever he said tonight, his relationship to Crowley and the way he dealt with her was not something many women are going to like.”

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