Live Blog: First 2012 Presidential DebatePosted: October 3, 2012
Finally the big night has arrived!
The first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take place tonight at 9PM in Denver, Colorado. The moderator will be Jim Lehrer of PBS. You can watch the debate on CNN, C-Span, or live stream it at multiple sites around the internet. Lots of people are boycotting CNN because they haven’t fired Erick Erickson. I plan to stream it on the C-Span site.
This has to be one of the most hyped presidential debates in history. I know all you Sky Dancers are extremely knowledgeable and don’t need to be told what to watch out for in the debate, but I’ll provide a few links just so you can see what different blogs are saying about it.
Talking Points Memo:
What to What To Look For In The Debate — And How To Unspin It. Brian Beutler will be watching for what the candidates say about a number of issues from a liberal point of view.
health care reform – How will Romney differentiate Obama care from Romney care?
Medicare and Medicaid – These have become difficult issues for Romney. Beutler doesn’t say this, but I’ll be watching to see if President Obama uses this to his advantage and especially if he makes a real commitment to protect these important programs.
Welfare – Romney made a big issue of welfare based on a blatant lie about Obama’s policies. Will Obama call him out on it? How will Romney try to fudge his lies?
Taxes – Romney claims he can lower taxes for everyone and still cut the deficit. Everyone knows that’s impossible. Can Obama force him to get into specifics and defend the indefensible?
Tax Returns – Journalists have been digging out lots of embarrassing tidbits from Romney’s recently released 2011 return. Will Obama get into the nitty gritty? How will Romney defend his low tax rate?
47 Percent – This will be huge for Obama to hit Romney on. Can Romney defend his ugly remarks? Polls show they have had a powerful effect on voters around the country.
The Wall Street Journal
has a piece today that reflects expectations for the debate from the conservative side. Apparently the Romney campaign is mostly focused how how they’ll spin the debate to best effect.
Wednesday’s debate will offer an important moment to help shape the Romney campaign’s message moving forward. Here’s a look at how they plan to capitalize on it.
Team Romney’s debate-monitoring strategy is, essentially, broken into three parts. A group of staffers in an annex office in Boston have their own version of a war room to monitor televisions, debate transcripts and Twitter. That helps feed the rapid response effort – a group of some two dozen staffers in a second-floor conference room in Boston.
Unlike past debates where the response crew pumped out lengthy research documents, this time they’ll focus on pithier push-back using Twitter and Tumblr. The strategy is partly to inform the media, but it’s also designed to provide supporters with simple talking points.
Politico spells out the Republican point of view
on what to watch for in the debate. I’ll just give you some brief excerpts. They say Romney has to
be aggressive without attacking the president, who has high personal approval ratings too fiercely. He has to seem tough but also presidential, assertive but not snide. He has to accuse Obama of not being honest with voters, without sounding shrill.
As for Obama, they say he needs to attack Romney aggressively while still maintaining his nice guy image.
Fact one: Obama’s surge against Romney was powered by a relentless, pounding summertime assault — led by surrogates and staff for the most part — on his challenger’s fitness to lead and capacity to comprehend the struggles of regular working people.
Fact Two: Obama’s surge was also fueled by a huge lead over Romney on personal approval — and that edge could disappear if he appears too negative tonight.
Politico says the 47 percent issue and Libya will be the biggest vulnerabilities for Romney and Obama respectively.
There is a substantial chance that either candidate will say something new, and memorable, when answering a question about one of those topics, which have posed problems for Romney and Obama, respectively, over the past few weeks. There’s a moderate chance both will.
Romney is well aware that he will be asked about his remarks, secretly videotaped at a fundraiser last May, that 47 percent of Americans — those backing the president in his reelection bid — considerer themselves “victims” and expect free things from government.
The administration’s initial claim, that the Benghazi protest was modeled after one taking place in Egypt against a video that expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, has been disputed. Nine days after the attack on the Sept. 11 anniversary, White House press secretary Jay Carney described it as a “self-evident” terror attack, but one of “opportunism,” not premeditation.
That description has also changed. While the issue is not dominating all cable news coverage as it did in the first few days after the death of four American diplomats, for Republicans, it cuts to the heart of Obama’s strength on foreign policy, historically a Republican calling card in national elections but an area that has favored the president since the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Politico also suggests that Obama “may not be ready for prime time,” and that Romney may have a chance to “get under Obama’s skin” early on. Finally, they expect both candidates to bring up Bill Clinton.
As with the WSJ, Politico–which gets plenty of leaks from the Romney campaign–is more focused on style than substance. We have to assume that is Romney’s focus as well. No mention of the famous “zingers” that Romney has been rehearsing for months.
Romney made a little news in the past few days.
Today he said that he will not continue Obama’s program of giving work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, but he wouldn’t take away any permits that have been given out before he became president.
If elected president, Mitt Romney would not continue the new program that grants work permits and suspends deportation for two years for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors, his campaign says, according to the Boston Globe.
Romney would not revoke work permits for people who obtain them by the time he would take office, on Jan. 20, but he would not grant any after that, the campaign says, according to the Boston Globe report.
Critics of Romney’s latest position on the initiative say it will doom the vast majority of the more than 1 million people who could be eligible for it. Since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, began accepting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications on Aug. 15, only 29 people have been granted deferred action and work permits.
Romney has also been talking about a cap on tax deductions as a way to pay for his tax cuts on top earners.
The Obama campaign seized on Romney’s comments in an interview with a local TV station in Colorado Monday night, saying that his mention of a possible $17,000 cap on itemized deductions would mean higher taxes for “many families.”
The campaign used the example of a family of four making $125,000 a year, and another of a family of three with an annual income of $85,000. Both, the Obama campaign said, would claim more than $17,000 a year in tax deductions, meaning that under Romney’s idea of a cap they would pay more than they do now.
But a Romney campaign adviser not authorized to speak publicly said that the biggest number used by the Obama campaign to come up with its result was one not included under a cap system: the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. This was a $16,000-a-year value under the Obama campaign example, but without that number, in its scenarios the two families would get a tax cut, instead of paying more, according to the Romney advisor.
An Obama campaign adviser, who spoke on the condition he not be identified, said that “even if health is not included, it’s very easy to get to the same math starting with the mortgage interest deduction.”
So those two issues might come up in the debate.
I expect Romney to come out swinging like he did against Newt Gingrich in the Florida Primary debate. If he’s too wired, I think he could hurt himself early on by coming across as a boor, which is never difficult for him. I think he’ll also hurt himself badly if he doesn’t come out with some straight talk about the numbers in his tax plan.
For Obama, I agree with Politico that he needs to be aggressive, and I don’t think he needs to worry about coming across as mean. He would have to go a long way for anyone to think he has a nastier attitude than Romney. I also want to see Obama stand up strongly for the social safety net and make a real commitment to protect it. I’m sure Jim Lehrer will bring up Simpson-Bowles, and I’d like to see Obama explain why there are serious problems with the media’s favorite hobby-horse. Finally, I think he needs to push Romney hard on abortion and birth control.
What will you be watching for tonight?