Presidential Debate 1 Winner: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney. Will Hurricane Sandy give him New Jersey, though he didn't even campaign here?
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The first Presidential debate took place last night (October 3) at the University of Denver, Denver, CO. By every account, no matter which side the account came from, Mitt Romney won. Anyone who watched could easily see why. Mitt Romney had charm and a warm smile, and seemed to don velvet gloves. All these were things that most people expected Barack Obama to have. He didn’t. Nor did he have the facts, and it showed.

Presidential Debate Awards

As CNAV did during primary season, it will bestow the usual best (actually, better) performance awards for this first Presidential Debate:

The Shovel Award

This award goes to the Presidential debate contestant who can “shovel it on” with more eloquence. Mitt Romney won handily. “Shoveling it on,” for better or worse, is his trademark. And he definitely brought his shovel to the stage last night.

When you argue on national television with someone who tells bald-faced lies, you do not say, “Every word you said is a lie.” Instead you say, as Mitt Romney said,

Virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate.

It’s in the transcript. And transcripts don’t lie. Or at least this one didn’t. And when you have to put something in perspective, you say things like:

But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1.

Which brings us to:

The Boss Line Award

Mitt Romney, clear winner in the first Presidential Debate

Former Governor Mitt Romney at a townhall in Sun Lakes, Arizona. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License

This goes to the contestant who says the one line that everyone will remember, or should. Every Presidential debate season has one. Mitt Romney had the “boss line”:

Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.

In one line, Mitt Romney captured the naked essence of Barack Obama and four things that are wrong with him:

  1. Barack Obama is building the Entitlement State, in which more than half the voters get a government check and will vote to keep “the goodies” coming.
  2. Barack Obama feels entitled to his title and all its perquisites. So much so that he and his family have cost the government twenty times as much as the entire Royal Family Civil List. Don’t take our word for that. Ask Her Majesty’s Loyal Subjects!
  3. Barack Obama has abused both his special transport and the White House for his own fund-raising, Michelle Obama’s shopping sprees in foreign lands, and Malia Obama’s spring break.
  4. Barack Obama has a problem with the truth. Investors Business Daily knew that Obama would have a problem with the truth more than three hours before the Presidential Debate took place. (Obama trotted out all five of the “pohony” claims that IBD expected him to trot out. And Mitt Romney demolished every one.)

The runner-up for Boss Line of the Night, in the context of “green energy initiatives,” all of which have gone sour:

You don’t just pick the winners and losers. You pick the losers!

Second runner-up, to answer the canard about “a tax break to ship jobs overseas”:

I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.

No, Mitt. Even BDO wouldn’t be able to figure out this one.

The Bucket Award

Barack Obama. In the first Presidential Debate he was off his game.

Barack H. Obama. Photo: Pete Souza, January 13, 2009

This goes to the Presidential debate contestant who can catch it more dexterously. Again, Mitt Romney won. Barack Obama never could “catch it,” because he is not used to getting it. He’s The Man. Nobody Tells Him What To Do. And nobody crosses him. One world leader famously did, and Obama gave orders that he never wanted to speak to him again. You can’t do that in a Presidential Debate. Nor can you bring a TelePrompTer.

That’s not to say that Obama never threw it Mitt Romney’s way. He did, on the subject of Massachusetts’ own healthcare reform plan. But Mitt Romney not only caught it. He threw it back. He gave the people fact after devastating fact about what is practically wrong with Obamacare. Including the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a/k/a The Death Panel. Obama spent five minutes trying to defend the IPAB. All he did was leave people wondering: What’s that Payment Board there for, anyway?

Forbes put it this way:

In the first Presidential Debate, Mitt Romney told the truth on health care. And Obama tried not to.

Forbes also reminded everyone of this promise that Barack Obama made, to lower health insurance costs per family by $2500.

That, of course, proved false.

The What Just Happened Award

This is a booby prize. It goes to the person, not necessarily a contestant, who finds himself completely at sea. This one goes to Jim Lehrer. As moderator of this first Presidential Debate, he was a disaster. He could never keep the contestants to their time. No one can truly tell whether he set out to be fair or unfair. It didn’t matter. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama took as much time as they felt they needed. But one clash between Lehrer and Obama left people in doubt on which man embarrassed himself worse. Lehrer asked Obama to talk about jobs, and Obama teed off with a riff on education. Later, Mitt Romney skewered Barack Obama on the effect of tax policy on jobs. And Barack Obama said, lamely,

Jim, I—you may want to move onto another topic.

An Unexpected Style of Fighting

Yesterday, Dwight Kehoe, on his own page and on this one, said that Mitt Romney would not “take off the gloves.” Kehoe was correct as far as he went, but not with his guess of the result. (As he admitted today.) Mitt Romney merely chose a different style of fighting. Not bare-knuckle fisticuffs. Not even Marquess of Queensberry-style boxing. No, Mitt Romney chose judo, or as it translates into English, “the gentle way.” In judo, you use your opponent’s size, weight, and momentum against him. No one, least of all Barack Obama, suspected that Mitt Romney was such a rhetorical judo master. He gently set the record straight, mostly on his own plans. He also neatly trapped Barack Obama into defending his indefensible record.

The Daily Beast summed up the result:

Obama played not to lose. And lost.

The Chicago Tribune has the largest collection of embedded videos, from the debate and the after-action reports, now available. This page will host a limited sample:

(This video is especially entertaining. It shows Barack Obama’s skip-to-m’lou routine when de-boarding his transport.)