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U.S. President Barack Obama makes calls to volunteers from the Obama for America Field Office in Port St. Lucie, Florida, while campaigning across the state by bus, September 9, 2012.    REUTERS/Larry Downing
The Obama campaign held a post-debate press call Thursday morning, with David Axelrod trying not to obscure Mitt Romney's win on debating style but rather to shift the discussion to Romney's lies, and to highlight the different intentions with which Romney and President Barack Obama entered the debate.

Romney's big lies and dodges, as identified by Axelrod and by policy director James Kvaal, are familiar. There's the Medicare lie, the Obamacare dodge, the not-cutting-education lie, and oh so many others. Romney gave, Axelrod said, "a very vigorous performance but one that was devoid of honesty. So today, the day after, I think the question for you [in the press], for the American people, is really one of character" and whether a performance and a campaign so dependent on falsehoods earns the trust needed for the presidency. This press call is one step in the Obama campaign's efforts to hold Romney accountable and force him to justify the things he said.

Axelrod noted that, when asked before the debate what he anticipated, he said he expected Romney to do well, because "he's a very good performer, partly because he's untethered from the truth." So it's not surprising that we learned that Romney will say anything, which makes him effective in the short term but vulnerable in the long term. "He's shown a propensity to mortgage the long term for the short term," something we saw in the primaries.

Romney's polished, aggressive performance contrasted, according to Axelrod, with Obama "view[ing the debate] as an opportunity to talk to the American people" and to answer serious questions honestly. The outcome of the debate may prompt the campaign to reconsider the president's debate strategy to address the sheer volume of Romney's lies, but importantly, Axelrod pointed out, while snap polling showed Romney overwhelmingly winning the debate, that win did not seem to be translating into much increase in support for Romney's candidacy.

Extended notes from the call are below the fold.

These are my notes taken during the call; they are as closely paraphrased as my typing speed permitted, and I've tried to indicate where I missed anything substantial.

I entered the call a couple minutes late and came in on Axelrod going through some of Romney's biggest lies, from the $5 trillion tax cut to Medicare where he "knowingly tried to deceive seniors on his plan. All of you who travel on the road with Gov. Romney know he just a few weeks ago stood up and said we don't need any more teachers. Last night he couldn't be more enthusiastic about teachers." Romney suggested he could repeal Obamacare and still guarantee coverage for people with preexisting conditions, an assertion so audacious he had to send someone to spin room to admit it wasn't true. A "very vigorous performance but one that was devoid of honesty. So today, the day after, I think the question for you, for the American people, is really one of character" and whether a candidacy that is so fundamentally rooted in hiding the facts from the American people, in deception, is the basis of trust you would assign the presidency on. We're going to hold him accountable and make him justify as I hope you will make him justify those points.

Many of you asked what I anticipated before the debate. I said I expected him to do well. "He's a very good performer, partly because he's untethered from the truth." Not surprisingly what we learned is that he'll say anything. That makes him effective in the short term but vulnerable in the long term. He's shown a propensity to mortgage the long term for the short term. We saw that in the primaries. [Gives examples I missed.]

There are some things he didn't walk away from. He didn't walk away from his commitment to privatizing Medicare, turning it into a voucher system. He didn't walk away from his pledge not to ask for one additional dollar for deficit reduction from anyone, no matter how wealthy.

The CBS poll showed very marginal gains among undecided voters. If voters break that way he can't make up the gap that we see in battleground states. We see the same in focus groups. People are willing to give him credit for his performance but that didn't translate into support for his candidacy. A lot of the reason is an issue of trust. People understand the president is speaking honestly and openly, and they have a great many questions about Romney and I don't think he helped himself there with his serial evasions and deceptions.

Next James Kvaal, the policy director, spoke, running through fact-checks of Romney's major lies.

Axelrod returned while questions were being queued up, noting that Romney's central claims were well delivered but fraudulent and that's going to be hard to sustain over the coming weeks. One promise Romney did meet was not being constrained by fact-checkers.

Question from Reuters: Does anything about what happened last night change the strategy, will president do more debate prep, why didn't he say the things you're saying now?

Axelrod: He made a choice to answer the questions that were asked and to talk to the American people about what we need to do to move forward and not to get into serial fact-checking with Romney, which can be an exhausting, never-ending pursuit. But we're going to take a hard look at this and make some judgments about where to draw the line. As far as strategy, as with sports you evaluate after every contest and you make adjustments and I'm sure we will. Probably won't add huge amounts of prep time, but rather make these strategic judgments.

Question from the Washington Post: The president's performance was listless, distracted, annoyed at times. Will you be talking to him about that and how will you explain his physical performance?

Axelrod: I'm not a theater critic. I can only tell you the president viewed it as an opportunity to talk to the American people, perhaps not as much as Romney did as a performance. I readily concede that's not his strong suit and I'm sure he'll consider his approach moving forward, but he's eager for next debate. This was his first chance to see Romney's routine up close, though he had reviewed some Republican debates but not [Axelrod cuts off and does not return until the next question].

Question from NBC's Andrea Mitchell: Whether you have rethought strategy of not bringing up women's issues or the 47 percent or so many issues that have worked so well in campaign?

Axelrod: First of all, a lot of those issues are well known to the public and again I think the president was focusing on the questions that were asked. Plainly he didn't come as focused and intent as Romney on dropping particular lines and his interest was in honoring the American people with honest answers to serious questions that were being asked. I understand particularly our supporters would have liked him to enter into the record Bain, tax returns, 47 percent, but his choice was to talk about things people were worried about in their own lives and that's what he did.

Question from the New York Times: How do you see the choices these judgments will have to address?

Axelrod: ... this was the first chance for the president to see how Romney operates firsthand and you have to make some adjustments for the fact that he is kind of a serial evader and artful dodger and that makes it more challenging. The thing I think, and this relates to last question as well, is the president hopes to avoid a situation where two politicians are standing there insulting each other instead of offering ideas for the future of the country. But you have to strike a balance, you can't let someone basically manhandle the truth and not deal with that, so I'm sure that is a takeaway from this debate.

Question from Huffington Post's Sam Stein: Many Democrats were perplexed by Obama saying he and Romney have similar positions on Social Security. Is that really your belief?

Axelrod: I'm not sure what Romney's position really is, I know what his running mate's position is and I presume Romney has a similar interest since he's called Ryan the intellectual leader of the party. The president wouldn't support a voucher system etc as they would. His interest in the long run is making sure Social Security is there and secure. It's a problem that needs to be dealt with in the longer term. Medicare is a shorter term concern and that's why we need aggressive reform to bring down cost of health care. I don't know exactly what Romney's position is so I can just tell you the president's position is we need to maintain Social Security and Medicare.

Q from the AP: Does the president believe he was crisp and coherent?

A: He got his ideas across and drew distinctions on issues like education and taxes. I think he got those distinctions across and if you look at some of the data and research, both the president and Romney raised their numbers on a range of measures during debate—on who's a strong leader and on having a clear plan for the future, both improved numbers, the president even more than Romney, on understanding problems of everyday people both did, the president obviously had high numbers there to start. I think there's a fascination with Romney's performance. Reality is different. The obvious test is how this impacts on voters across the country. Mixed results in focus groups. I leave it to others to critique but I can just judge from how voters out there reacted and while Romney was very crisp, both candidates got points across and got something out of the debate. [Clarity here is suffering both from my transcription skills lagging and Axelrod sounding like he may have looking at a list of numbers and drawing from them as he spoke.]

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sounds pretty much like what I predicted (4+ / 0-)

    earlier in my comments.

  •  Axelrod needs to be fired. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeadLady, KingTag, Mambo, scarvegas

    It sounds like he's the idiot who came up with the "prevent defense" strategy.

    In doing this, he not only jeopardized his candidates race, but the race of several senators his candidate will need to get anything done, if his candidate gets a second term.

    Fire this douchebag. He is dead weight.

    Call on Carville. NOW!!!!!

  •  Oh FFS. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stagemom, politicalceci, phonegery

    Just admit you're on the Romney payroll, Washington Post.

  •  So, they expected him to be honest? I know... (26+ / 0-)

    it's difficult to do battle with a man who uses lies like a squid uses ink, but there were countless openings last night.

    One in particular was Romney, representing the Republican party, saying that Obama wasn't working with both parties.

    Jesus man...can you just not remind the American people how helpful the Republicans have been in Congress?

    I mean that one was so easy...

  •  Thanks for sharing this, Laura. (13+ / 0-)

    I'm glad Barack Obama is our President.

    by TomP on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:48:40 AM PDT

  •  the worst kind of wounds (6+ / 0-)

    are self-inflicted, and Obama did this to himself. He blew every opportunity to bust Romney lies. Self-inflicted.

  •  Just the first debate (7+ / 0-)

    Its obvious now what it is like to be up against Romney.

    You cannot pin him on any issue because he is a very practiced eloquent liar.

    Next debate he will change positions based on polling.

    Very tough. Too bad people have the memory span of fruit flies for this stuff. (mostly because they have their own lives to think about)

    •  as someone here said his missionary skills were (12+ / 0-)

      evident, learning at a young age to sell bullsh*t

      Give me back my democracy. 50% + 1

      by stagemom on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:51:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  mormons have skills (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JulieUnplugged, stagemom
      •  Absoluely. Romney was great I admit. He (5+ / 0-)

        showed why is as successful as he is in business. That's part of the beauty of the debate - right there in front of you was the 1% technique exposed to the core. Emphasizing the clear choice people have to make.

        If I knew it was going to be that kind of party, I'd have stuck my ---- in the mashed potatoes! - Paul's Boutique

        by DoctorWho on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:59:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •   He's a lying, cheating, weasel. (5+ / 0-)

          and he's still gonna lose in November. An awful person.

          Re-elect Barack Obama and elect Elizabeth Warren "Mitt Romney...utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive."

          by al23 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:13:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Huh?!? Not the business world I inhabit... (8+ / 0-)

          He is like the guy who shows you a bullshit business plan and tries to convince you that in five years his company will be worth five billion dollars.

          Oh, except in his case, he hid the business plan behind a briefcase and described the goals but not how he was going to get there.

          For a businessman, he came off as a con artist.

          Hon, Mr. Eastwood borrowed our chair again...

          by feloneouscat on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:25:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  well neither of (0+ / 0-)

          them stood up for the 99% of us. Perhaps if our side wasn't so hell bent on Simpson Bowles and Grand Bargains which are variations on the austerity 'eat your peas' bs and sacrifice for the banksters and war profiteers, Obama could have actually taken him on. What I saw was two corporatist's haggling over the degrees of austerity and a way forward that is anything but democratic/ Democratic. Dueling deficit hawks with fiscal cliffs of mass destruction once again being used to scare the people into their anti-democratic way forward..

          Clear differences? Pathetic when these differences consist of the same agenda with  different implementations, thank god no vouchers and no 'privatizing' SS.  Meanwhile, the likely next D Sec. of Treasury, Bowles is running ads against a progressive Dem, Annie Kuster.  Axelrod and co. seem to think that nobody who votes is Democratic. Great our choices are Bain vs Goldman Sachs.  I had to laugh through my tears at Obama being 'honest' about 'the way forward'.

          Bowles-Simpson Attack Bold Progressive Candidate Annie Kuster  

          http://www.dailykos.com/...      

          •  Is that guilt by association with a potential evil (0+ / 0-)
            Meanwhile, the likely next D Sec. of Treasury, Bowles is running ads against a progressive Dem, Annie Kuster.
            ??

            He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

            by Sophie Amrain on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:46:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  heh? (0+ / 0-)

              How many times last night did Obama mention how great Bowles Simpson was? Guilt by association my ass. This administration appointed Bowles and Simpson and intend to implement their plan.  The ad's are a fact and so is Obama's praise of these deficit hawks. What bothers me is this evil is a done deal the grand bargain is what we'll get. . Obama was quite clear about where he stands on austerity and 'reforming' our entitlements.  

    •  Actually, Romney CAN get pinned on some things, (9+ / 0-)

      ... and that's all it will take. Puncture a few of Romney's worst statements, not everything, and then go on and state the truth and your own affirmative case. (As the debate goes on, you then remind us that "There he goes again and you don't need to rebut everything and give Romney a chance to explain.)

      It's debate strategy 101. Axe is right: this was not the time for Obama to go into serial rebuttal mode. A few strong, short, simple corrections would have gone a long way. For example ...

      ... where the President did take Romney on, such as the $5 trillion tax cut, he needed to cite authority for the $5T estimate. Then point out that Mitt would be beggaring the middle class by removing deductions and credits to accomplish the balance Mitt pledges (without details). Then pivot the Obama's better, more realistic plan. That would take 30 seconds or less, it is not wonkish and it would be telling the public the truth.

      Also, the 47% is not Obama's point to make. He should wait in the weeds for Romney to touch that live wire, then hit him with the core of the actual quote and the audience ... and point out that Romney tells his various audiences various and contradictory things.

      Obama and strong Democratic majorities in 2012!

      by TRPChicago on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:01:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "It was to say the least fascinating." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justsayjoe

    "It was to say the most [lies]"  --Hawkeye Pierce, approximately.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:49:25 AM PDT

  •  polish polish (0+ / 0-)

    polish that turd,  keep on with the namby pamby

    flush the election down the drain.

    All Hail our Corporate Masters.

    Obama retires to a life on public dole

    Thanks - FOR NOTHING!

    •  I love Wonkette on this (4+ / 0-)

      This election is no longer a fight for the heart and soul of the country. This election is about our country deciding whether or not to continue having a soul.

      by Fe Bongolan on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:51:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  true enough - but the fact remains (0+ / 0-)

        If Obama strategy to be the Not Rmoney and the campaign (and all left blogs) insists on talking mainly about Rmoney lies, etc,  then there is going to be a huge ho-hum on election day and hoards of would be workers will stay home.

        Meanwhile, the fringe closet racists and the corporate Atlases will be out en mass.

        Add a few states of voter suppression and intimidation,  shake well, and Obama's 5% poll lead could easily turn into a Rmoney 6% ballot lead.

        Yes, I understand it is still about 270 and therein lies the risk.  

        If it comes down to one state - be it Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania, then count on Diebold to make the difference.

        Obama may be a civil gentleman but he is boring his base to sleep.

        To quote S.K. Jackson   "WAKE THE FUCK UP!"

        •  That is so much paranoid nonsense it's (5+ / 0-)

          incredible. You have made up a giant steaming pile of... unprecedented assumptions. You have absolutely jack zero nada proof historically or otherwise that Obama or any other president can lose 4-10pt leads in 4 weeks over debate performance.

          I mean seriously. Come on now. This is getting silly.

          If I knew it was going to be that kind of party, I'd have stuck my ---- in the mashed potatoes! - Paul's Boutique

          by DoctorWho on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:13:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it is not the debate performance (0+ / 0-)

            it is the combination of voter supression, indimidation, low turn out and hacked electronic voting machines that is what can erase a 5% lead in a couple states.

            If you think the re-election is in the bag, then who is being silly?

      •  Oh yeah. She nails it. Or Eviscerated it. Or (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        Destroyed. Smashed. Kneed. Neck-pinched.

        You get the idea.

        If I knew it was going to be that kind of party, I'd have stuck my ---- in the mashed potatoes! - Paul's Boutique

        by DoctorWho on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:08:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah mister former president thanks for (4+ / 0-)

      losing! I hear he's going to show up at the next debate with a 40oz of Anaconda malt liquor and watch the Chappelle show on his Ipad while Romney rolls over him. To think he just blew 10 pt leads in several swing states just by being listless and annoyed and passive and not reading Dkos or pissing on Chris Matthews leg. I think he needs R Kelly as an advisor.

      If I knew it was going to be that kind of party, I'd have stuck my ---- in the mashed potatoes! - Paul's Boutique

      by DoctorWho on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:05:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd rather have the Romney team accuse the Dems... (0+ / 0-)

    ...of being devoid of honesty, and winning the debate because of it, then vice-versa.

    If all Pols mislead, and they do, I want to support the pol that misleads and wins.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:50:29 AM PDT

    •  False Equivalency Says What? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm so sick of hearing of how both sides lie.  Anyone paying the least bit of attention can see that the Democrats are far more honest.  Please stop doing the reich wing's work for them.

  •  It doesn't matter. (6+ / 0-)

    Saying today that it was all lies is meaningless.

    Though I don't think the debates themselves are that important, I would have thought that Obama would have been prepared for these attacks -- they told us they were coming!

    And we were all saying "bring it on" -- well, Romney did.

    I am very disheartened today.

    "Don't bring that horse in here!" -- Cassandra

    by tc59 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:51:15 AM PDT

    •  What do you plan to do about it? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sethtriggs, AmazingBlaise

      That's the question.  Sit around and whine.  I assume that you've volunteered for the president - canvassed, phone banked, that sort of thing.   Well, now's the time to ramp it up.  Sitting around being disheartened will get us nowhere.  

      •  For the first time (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tc59

        it is really more about what Obama decides to do about it.  Canvassing and phone banking are great but that's not the need today.  Today is the day the president needs to start turning it around.

        He has to decide whether he thinks his record over the last 4 years is worth defending (if not he oughta just drop out and stop taking our money and our time) and whether he thinks his ideas for the next 4 years are worth presenting and defending and finally whether he is willing to fight to impliment those ideas.  Fighting begins with the hand to hand of the campaign.  Obama now needs to do something outside of his comfort zone - he is not naturally a fighter - he needs to show that he is.  If he does - we win.  If he doesn't the next 4 years will be some seriously radicalizing days for the american left.

        Obama's rally this morning was a decent start.  He needs to be doing major rallys regularly.  Big cities / big crowds.  He needs to get back in touch.

        Here's hoping.

      •  Sorry, it is not up to me. (0+ / 0-)

        It is up to Obama.  Romney needed a game-changer to save is pathetic campaign.  Don't know if he got it, but it seems like he did today.

        Obama has to take it back. We can't do it for him.

        "Don't bring that horse in here!" -- Cassandra

        by tc59 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:45:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  GOTV then (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sethtriggs

      Barack Obama for President '12

      by v2aggie2 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:04:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Short term for the long term is fitting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, katchen

    Considering that corporations have been so focused only on the next quarter at the expense of long term growth for god knows how long, it's fitting that a corporate raider like Romney would see it that way.

    My style is impetuous.
    My defense is impregnable.
    YOU'RE NOT ALEXANDER!

    by samfish on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:52:42 AM PDT

    •  Good point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      politicalceci

      One I was considering, too. I think that would be a good way to package Romney, Inc., in general. His history as a businessman, his propensity for lying, and his plans for the gov't. It's all of a piece.

      “I have a quantum car. Every time I look at the speedometer I get lost.” -- Steven Wright

      by tytalus on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:56:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "as with sports you evaluate after every contest.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    feloneouscat, AmazingBlaise

    Like I've been saying, this was round 1, Obama felt him out, gauged his methodology and moves, and will now destroy him.

    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: [http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher]

    by Beetwasher on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:52:49 AM PDT

  •  Well, at least I'm not alone here.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belle1, Molly Weasley, sethtriggs, BachFan

    I was watching and wondering why Romney wasn't being called out for being a lying fuck and thought "am I the only one seeing this?"

    Glad to know we're all seeing the lies.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:53:24 AM PDT

    •  But most voters/viewers wouldn't know (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wildthumb, JG in MD

      that Romney was lying unless the President called him out on them during the debate.

      Unfortunately, Obama didn't ... he just seemed to sleepwalk through the thing.

      I was very disappointed ... I wanted to see the fiery, engaged, aggressive President Obama that's been out on the campaign trail.

      Whoever decided that Obama should play a defensive strategy during the debate, that was the wrong choice.

      "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

      by BachFan on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:11:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lehrer didn't combat any talking points, either. (0+ / 0-)

        NONE.

        I've gone after "chimpface" David Gregory regularly on this blog, but I think Gregory would have done a far better job.

        Lehrer was a clear enabler of the Romney attack last night.  

        "To hunt a species to extinction is not logical."--Spock, in Star Trek IV.

        by Wildthumb on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:19:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •   It a lot different between looking Presidential (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    feloneouscat

    And being the real  President

  •  Biden to the rescue? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, JG in MD

    I have a feeling Joe Biden is not going to feel as constrained as Obama was last night.  Joe on the warpath could make for a great debate.

    •  I wouldn't put money on that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      politicalceci, JG in MD

      Not because I don't love Joe, because I do, but NEVER UNDERESTIMATE Karl Rove and Paul Ryan. Ryan is a true snake oil salesman, and "BFD Joe" could be pushed into "gotcha moments" and gaffes that could sting us. Rove and Ryan are waiting for Joe with steak knives.

      I say, we stay steady, and let these debates improve. Axelrod gave some decent meta arguments with the character issue, which will stick and has been sticking. The ads for the 47% stay intact because Obama did not give them anything to work with as a comeback because the Repubs are most vulnerable there.

      Obama may come to a draw at the next debate, but I think he will be best at FP, where Chris Rock's empty chair for where OBL would have sat will be in the room, metaphorically.

      This election is no longer a fight for the heart and soul of the country. This election is about our country deciding whether or not to continue having a soul.

      by Fe Bongolan on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:02:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i still don't get it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    politicalceci, Mistral Wind

    Romney won on style. It was like he was prepping for this moment all his life. He was like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas or the Cheshire Cay. Yuck. Substance? We've heard all his talking points for decades smiling and admitting you're giving big bird the ax is new though. Poor mittens thinks he's got a chance now.lol.

    People are cattle too. Luv, Mittens Romney.

    by CupofTea on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:55:13 AM PDT

  •  anticipated? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zekeaz, rhauenstein, RainyDay, JG in MD

    Here's my problem . . . if Romney's truthfulness or lack thereof was anticipated, then why didn't it appear the President was prepared to respond?!! There's just no excuse for not calling out Romney for every single lie.

    I mean, the very first question offered up a softball for Obama to ask which middle class Romney was referring to - those who made $200-$250k or the REAL middle class.

    And I kept waiting for Obama to stop the proceedings and explain that in preparing for a debate you read your opponent's statements and policy proposals and you compare them with your own, but since Romney seems to have once again decided to flip-flop on his plans, maybe we should cede the remainder of the time so he can explain once and for all just what he's going to do!

    I mean, there were so many opportunities I sat dumbfounded that they were flying by unspoken. Get the President a real coach. It may not be presidential to hit below the belt, but neither is it presidential to be beaten up and just stand there to take it.

  •  Romney may have lied like a rug (5+ / 0-)

    But to an undecided (and obviously uninformed) voter, he came off much better.

    A low-information voter isn't going to listen to fact-checking the next day. He or she just got a better impression of Romney than Obama. I truly can't imagine what the Obama campaign was thinking. My husband and I kept turning to each other and saying, "Is Obama sick or something?"

    Time to step it up big time, and call out R-Money's lies WHILE HE'S SAYING THEM.

    And let's hope Jim Lehrer never "moderates" another debate. He was pretty worthless.

    •  for low information voters, or those not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bryduck, JG in MD

      listening to anything other than Faux or Rush, they will never know he was lying.  To fact check days later is like a newspaper publishing a rebuttal - small print on the back page that is read by less than 1%.  Those that support Romney will now feel justified that he lied on stage and the President didn't correct him.  There in lies my problem.

    •  Do low information voters watch the debates? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sethtriggs, JG in MD, Mistral Wind

      Seriously, do we know who watches them? (someone here must know).  

      And I will add that every woman I talk to who saw the debate is revolted by the aggressive Rmoney (not that anecdote tells us the whole story).  I think Obama has always been reasonable and thoughtful, which contributes to his likeability. I  really began to dislike  Rmoney with the bullying story.  Rmoney reinforced his "I am a dominant jerk" style  last night and one people often use to win debates. I don't like it.

  •  The long and the short (0+ / 0-)

    He's shown a propensity to mortgage the long term for the short term."
    Romney's career at Bain in a nutshell. That corporate raiding wasn't for the long-term health of the target company, it was for the short-term gains the Bainiacs could make with the borrowed money they used to pay themselves bonuses.

  •  "He's shown a propensity to mortgage the long term (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bryduck

    for the short term" --  pretty well sums up his entire business model, too. Although "bankrupt and destroy" might be a better phrase than "mortgage".

    •  It's worked great for him and his. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JG in MD

      He hasn't mortgaged a thing. He's cashed in, over and over again. We're not dealing with a W, who failed in every single endeavor he tried until politics. This man is a shark, who does everything in his power to win utterly, and without remorse. Luckily for us, he's on the side that has already proven its policies to be damaging. Enough people know this to hopefully prevent him from winning.

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:15:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this was the first chance for the president to see (7+ / 0-)

    "this was the first chance for the president to see how Romney operates firsthand..."

    Round 1: Assess your opponent, gauge his strategy and techniques, adjust and PUMMEL.

    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: [http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher]

    by Beetwasher on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 10:59:52 AM PDT

  •  Something struck me about last night's debate and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    politicalceci, feloneouscat, Gorette

    it happened after the little meet-an-greet on stage. The c-span cameras were still rolling while the Obamas and the Romneys went onstage after the debate was over.  They chatted briefly and included Lehrer.  The Obamas then departed.  Lehrer tried to leave but Ann pulled him back for a photo or to say something.  He appeared miffed and went to his desk, picked up his papers and left.  But the Romneys, not.  

    They stayed on stage, with Ann pulling all the kids back behind so that Willard was front and centre waving to the audience as they filed out.  Finally Ann took his arm and led him off stage.  

    Don't know about you but it was like the scene with Palin after the 2008 McCain concession speech when they had to turn out the lights to get her off stage.  

  •  Given the shitload of criticism dumped on the Pres (12+ / 0-)

    after last night, apparently justified, I still have to wonder about something. Time and again when he was running and time and again since he's been President, he has been in situations where he seemed down and out, where his decisions / behavior seemed inexplicable given his strengths. And then, a short time later, he bushwhacks the offense and scores, as he did with health care. Someone else pointed out that whatever else happened last night, R'money was allowed to say everything he wanted, lie without hindrance and contradict himself about a million times. And now it's on the record in a debate.

    And now the President has it all in front of witnesses.

    And now the President might have gotten just what he wanted for the town hall debate on October 13.

    And now we might have seen the biggest head fake in campaign history.

    One thing people should have learned by now: whether you're friend or foe, never underestimate Obama.

  •  Was Romney telling the truth (4+ / 0-)

    when he called his five sons liars?

    Because I'd sue my dad for defamation of character if he ever tried that on my four brothers and me.

    skipping over damaged area

    by Says Who on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:01:59 AM PDT

    •  I thought that was weird too... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JG in MD, Gorette

      His "boys" are all adults now (the youngest is 31). Seems kind of nasty thing to say.

      Hon, Mr. Eastwood borrowed our chair again...

      by feloneouscat on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:42:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Boys will be boys..." mentality of Mitt, that's (0+ / 0-)

        how he justified his bullying and bad behavior like cutting hair off screaming boy assaulted by Romney and his mob.

        Also, their usage of term "pranks."

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:59:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Holy cow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Molly Weasley, GOPGO2H3LL

    Obama got his ass kicked last night.

    No more excuses. It wasn't the altitude, it wasn't lies from Romney. It was lack of real serious preparation, readiness and energy. Watching this lifeless disaster I wondered if Obama even wants to be reelected.

    He might have lost the election last night. The only way to recover is to be honest, accountable and accept the critiques from a very weak performance and learn from it by being honest about it. This was a D- performance and Romney was a strong A.

    If this happens again. It's game over. It might be anyway this was such a brutal smackdown.

    "It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant." Barack Obama August 5, 2008

    by thefretgenie on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:02:05 AM PDT

  •  Sure thing, Dave (0+ / 0-)

    'Conversation with the people.'  are you freaking kidding us?

    It was a TV SHOW as they all are, and truth doesn't matter.  what next in this whine-fest?  A sternly worded letter?

    Tell your candidate to use a little force.  There's a VAST middle ground between being 'angry' and being a punching bag.

  •  So how come you didn't expect lies? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bryduck, feloneouscat, Molly Weasley

    Romney lies should have been expected.  Incompetence by Jim Lehrer was not.

  •  quick quiz! (0+ / 0-)

    Romney will be asked about firing Big bird every day T/F?

    Romney will be asked about VOUCHERS every day T/F?

    Romney will be asked what loopholes he will close every day T/F

    Romney will be asked why he keeps lying about Obama-Medicare-$714 billion- every day T/F?

    Ya know folks were quivering like this back in 2008 and it was Good news for John McCain..

    This 2008 vintage whine is as bitter now as it was then..cheers!

    (oh can I assume all you folks worried about the Campaign are already involved with this or any campaign in a vigorous manner? after all campaigns can always use your political savvy.)

    ashes..ashes.,.we all fall down..

  •  What am I missing? (8+ / 0-)

    Ok, so Romney trips all over his tongue in London, ties himself in knots over many contradictory positions, totally flubs his convention, gets his super-secret 47% video published, invites tons of scorn over his tax returns...

    ...and Obama fails to get down-and-dirty in ONE debate!

    Of course, Obama's ahead by pretty good margins (well, in the swing states), and did nothing during the debate to give Romney the least leverage in the coming days.

    Sure, Romney landed a few good blows.  So what?  What's all the angst about?

  •  Obama strategy from focus groups (5+ / 0-)

    on undecided voters.  Smartypants had an excellent article about this

    The real question is: how did last night's debate affect undecided voters?

    She quotes a Priority US focus group:

    Six in 10 respondents gave President Obama favorable ratings for his overall performance in the debate, compared with just one in seven who did so for Romney.
    Smartypants said:
    Things get even more interesting when you look at how these voters reacted to discussions on specific issues. Most of the pundits are criticizing President Obama for not going on offense and attacking Romney enough. And yet for the undecided voters in this focus group, they were the least impressed with the President's response to Romney about his tax plan - the first issue that came up and the main one where Obama engaged in a direct challenge. In contrast, they favored Obama's approach to the economy, health care, dealing with the deficit, and energy.
    If it doesn't work POTUS will create a new strategy.  He knows what he's doing.  In the meantime he has HUGE amounts of ammo about Mitt for ads and speeches.  Mitt's brand has already been sullied by his lying and this will only pile it on further.

    Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.~ Howard Zinn

    by ParkRanger on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:04:51 AM PDT

    •  You left this out: (0+ / 0-)

      "The large majority of panelists in the Aurora session were weak Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but who remain open to switching in the upcoming election."

      CNN isn't the only organization packing a survey.

      •  that's who the undecideds are in this election (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, ParkRanger

        McCain's share of the vote in 2008 was basically the floor for a Republican candidate. This is all about getting people to vote for Obama twice.

        •  This just seems to prove the point even more (0+ / 0-)

          I didn't read the original focus document but I would assume the point is still valid.  They surely knew who they were choosing for the focus group and had some idea how they had voted before.  And they know they are saying they are undecided now.

          that just proves the point that the strategy was developed to appeal to those voters and it worked for those voters.

          Who knows what he had to deal with during the day that might have distracted him.  Turkey/Syria?  Oil slick over the Horizon oil well area?  Who knows.  

          But he had a strategy.  he's smart and if something doesn't work he goes on to develop another plan.

          Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.~ Howard Zinn

          by ParkRanger on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 06:47:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Kos today re Obama gained wIndepedents (0+ / 0-)

        I'm just checking through Dkos and kos has this:

        Romney gains after debate ... with Republicans (Obama with independents)

        So check it—Obama's favorables are unchanged from before and after the debate, 56-44. But looking at the crosstabs, Obama stayed solid with Democrats, gained a tiny bit with Republicans, and ... kicked ass among independents. Seriously, flipping his faves among independents from 46-54 to 54-46, a 16-point shift, is a pretty big deal.
        You may argue that they were weak Democrats, but the point is that this is the group Obama was going after and it worked.

        Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.~ Howard Zinn

        by ParkRanger on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 07:20:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You left this out: (0+ / 0-)

      "The large majority of panelists in the Aurora session were weak Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but who remain open to switching in the upcoming election."

      CNN isn't the only organization packing a survey.

  •  "I'm not sure what Romney's position really is" (5+ / 0-)

    (sigh) No one does, Axelrod, not even Romney...

    Hon, Mr. Eastwood borrowed our chair again...

    by feloneouscat on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:06:51 AM PDT

  •  I wish more people would realize (3+ / 0-)

    that the President is smarter than they are. :(

    I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.

    by ReverseThePolarity on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:08:37 AM PDT

  •  So we're gonna shout and carry on for a while yet? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    Fire this one, hire that one!  Don't say this, say that!  Smile!  Go for his throat!  Don't be aggressive!  Why didn't you say this last night?  What are you doing?  All is lost if you don't listen to us!  

    Can we please pull ourselves together?

  •  Rope-A-Dope (0+ / 0-)

    I'm still not a fan of this Rope-A-Dope, prevent strategy. Most people in this country are used to reality being compressed into very small slices of time. Obama can't expect anyone to pay attention long enough for these sort of "let's lure Romney into the quicksand" presentations to work.

  •   have a question on presidential rules on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette

    debate ? bring notes because Mitt took out notes watch http://www.youtube.com/...

  •  So how long before Romney is ready to talk again? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Theodore J Pickle

    Hey Ryan, where you goin' with that trans-vaginal probe in your hand

    by 88kathy on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:18:19 AM PDT

  •  The Obama camp says you will not see "last (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette

    night Obama" again the rest of the campaign.

    http://www.politico.com/...

    Obama didn’t seem especially energetic during his prep sessions, telling supporters at a campaign office in Las Vegas that the process was ” a drag’” according to a pool report. And late in the sessions, Obama’s team brought in veteran Washington attorney Bob Barnett, an expert on debating, to sharpen the performance of John Kerry, who played Romney in the warm ups.

    Even as strategists downplayed the likely electoral impact of the debate, one Democrat close to Chicago conceded that Obama “was not happy with his performance.”

    Don’t expect to see that Barack Obama again,” the Democrat said.

    President Obama, January 9, 2012: "Change is hard, but it is possible. I've Seen it. I've Lived it."

    by Drdemocrat on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:18:25 AM PDT

  •  Romney appealed to ass-kicking white males, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belle1

    too bad his silly god won't let him drink because he'd have a real blast brawling in bars on the week end.  He, as usual, left truth at home with Miss Annie.  Obama disappointed a lot of Democrats because he didn't get down and loud with the bishop.  But no one is going to know how Obama really did till after the weekend at least when new polling data starts to give a clearer picture of how the debate played out with the electorate.

  •  The good thing? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    al23, KayCeSF

    The first debate is over.  That is out of our hair and the post mortems have been printed.

    There isn't any time for people feel sad over last night's debate.  Instead, we've got to move forward and fight on his behalf so we don't end up with Mitt Romney as the Leader of the Free World.  

    The worst thing in the world is to let this small setback delay us   on the road toward winning all the marbles in the 2012 election.

    Which would it rather be?

    Having to look at Ann's sour expression during the Inauguration while Romney pushes the Bible out of Chief Justice Roberts hands and swears himself in?

    Or having a country in which we have a POTUS and FLOTUS we  know who will think of the American people first in the name of progress?

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

    by politicalceci on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:21:39 AM PDT

  •  Axelrod is slow on the up-take: (0+ / 0-)
    "you can't let someone basically manhandle the truth and not deal with that, so I'm sure that is a takeaway from this debate."
    No kidding.

    Obama had multiple GREAT opportunities:

    R-MONEY said he though Obama should have accepted Simpson Bowles.

    Obama should have reminded him that R-MONEY's VP, Paul Ryan, was the guy who voted down Simpson Bowles.  (Would have made R-MONEY look like a fool.)

    R-MONEY said he had a "revenue neutral" tax plan (with undisclosed details). Mittens stated that:

    "I want to bring down the rates down, at the same time lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth so we keep getting the revenue we need."

    "My plan is to bring down rates but also bring down deductions and exemptions and credits at the same time so the revenue stays in, but that we bring down rates to get more people working."

    Obama could have pointed out that a "revenue neutral" tax plan does not reduce the tax burden on the economy, so how is it supposed to provide a stimulus by reducing the tax burden as Mittens suggests we need?  

    Instead, here is what Obama said:

    "When it comes to corporate taxes, Governor Romney has said he wants to, in a revenue-neutral way, close loopholes, deductions — he hasn't identified which ones they are — but thereby bring down the corporate rate. Well, I want to do the same thing, but I've actually identified how we can do that."

    ...

    "And so budgets reflect choices. Ultimately we're going to have to make some decisions. And if we're asking for no revenue, then that means that we've got to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff, and the magnitude of the tax cuts that you're talking about, Governor, would end up resulting in severe hardship for people, but more importantly, would not help us grow."

    Weak.  Mealy-mouthed.  Could have been MUCH stronger.  You don't want to sound like a scold, but YOU HAVE TO CALL THIS GUY WHEN HE SAYS REALLY STUPID STUFF.

    "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave." -- Patrick Henry November 6, 2012 MA-4 I am voting for my friends Barry, Liz and Joe (Obama, Warren and Kennedy)

    by BornDuringWWII on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:38:52 AM PDT

  •  A new thought about last night's debate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD

    There's no question that Romney won on tactics (i.e., his continuous brazen dishonesty).  But in his closing remarks, he did something that I think cancels out any apparent win from the viewpoint of moderates/independents.  What Romney did was cheerlead the idea of big military budget increases, that almost nobody wants, including the military itself (and Obama pointed that out).  This doesn't square with Romney's debate insistence about his seriousness about deficits and debt, and that couldn't have been lost on moderates/independents who were watching.  This will actually be a problem for Romney, as viewers tend to remember the closing remarks the most.  If Romney thought he was positively moving the needle for himself last night, that may have only been true in energizing his base who were likely going to turn out for him anyway.  Moderates/independents, on the other hand, may be worried that Romney would, as president, not actually be very serious about the debt.  After an initial minor bounce, we could actually see Romney's numbers sink lower than ever.

    •  That was for the Tea-Bola folks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steve Magruder, Catte Nappe

      Who think the way to prosperity is war-war-war (it worked so well under Bush, the forgotten President).

      What I kept hearing was Romney saying that he would get rid of a plan and replace it with a better plan. Simpson-Bowles? I like it but I would use something different. Everything was something different but "no one would lose anything they liked". Oh and the kids don't get medicare (definition who is a "kid" please?).

      I would be surprised if there is movement for Romney with moderates. He sounds too much like he is trying to please all the people all the time (except for those who like PBS).

      I don't know if this changed anyone's mind.

      Hon, Mr. Eastwood borrowed our chair again...

      by feloneouscat on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:52:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Romney would dump PBS (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Magruder, belle1, Larsstephens

    At a cost of $300 million but KEEP oil subsidies at $3.9 BILLION?

    As they same on Sesame Street "one thing here is larger than the other... can you pick which one?"

    Apparently Romney can't.

    Hon, Mr. Eastwood borrowed our chair again...

    by feloneouscat on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:45:22 AM PDT

  •  Great. Love that " devoid of honesty. " (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Magruder, Catte Nappe

    Very bold.

    "Unteathered from the truth!

    More of my favorite Axelrod comments:

    He made a choice to answer the questions that were asked and to talk to the American people about what we need to do to move forward and not to get into serial fact-checking with Romney, which can be an exhausting, never-ending pursuit.
    Amen to that!
    .. this was the first chance for the president to see how Romney operates firsthand and you have to make some adjustments for the fact that he is kind of a serial evader and artful dodger and that makes it more challenging. The thing I think, and this relates to last question as well, is the president hopes to avoid a situation where two politicians are standing there insulting each other instead of offering ideas for the future of the country. But you have to strike a balance, you can't let someone basically manhandle the truth and not deal with that, so I'm sure that is a takeaway from this debate.
    ~ my emphasis
    Laura, you did a great job! Thank you!

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:52:26 AM PDT

  •  Charles Pierce's (0+ / 0-)

    morning after piece sums it up for me. Axelrod and the DC establishment Dems are kinder gentler Austerity party. The 'clear differences' were so narrow that the oh so scary lying vulture venture capitalist from Bain ended up actually plausible. If this is an honest talk to 'we the people'  from Obama where the hell was the Democrat on the stage?

    What you saw, I think, anyway, was the end product of the president's consuming naivete as regards the American political process, as well as the end product of thirty years of a Democratic Party that has slid so far to the center-right that a Democratic president found himself arguing with a "severely conservative" Republican candidate over the issues of how much the Democratic president had cut out of the budget, how many regulations he'd trimmed, how much more devoted to the middle-class-kick-in-the-balls Simpson-Bowles "plan" he is, and how he would "reform" Social Security and Medicare — and, frankly, a Democratic president losing some of those arguments to his left. A Democratic president got through an entire debate and didn't mention unions at all, even though the fact that our teachers are unionized here in Massachusetts is a big part of the reason why Romney got to brag on how good our education system is.......

    somewhere, Al From, that greasy corporatist lackey, was smiling. He’s got the political process of his dreams. Of course, it is also the case that The Great Sellout is already under way, so what the hell does it matter.

    Read more: http://www.esquire.com/...

     

  •  AX can spin this any way he wants...but.... (0+ / 0-)

    Obama sucked last night.  I am not apologizing for how I feel about this.   The stupid voters that are fence sitters don't look at honesty....they don't know enough to....they look to WHO was more Presidential and Commanding, and lies or not; Romney won last night.

  •  Remember the Etch-A-Skecth (0+ / 0-)

    Axelrod: "He made a choice to... not to get into serial fact-checking with Romney, which can be an exhausting, never-ending pursuit."

    How hard is it for Obama bring up the stereotype Romney's own adviser gave him: an Etch-A-Sketch. All O has to do is bring one to the next debate.

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