ORLANDO — President Barack Obama improved upon his previous performance in the first presidential debate, going after former Gov. Mitt Romney aggressively, in a debate that saw tense clashes between the two men. But Romney was stronger, again.
Romney dominated most of the exchanges because he was able to cogently point to the president’s dismal economic record. While Obama avoided the quicksand of his last debate performance, only on the issue of immigration did he score a clear win. Romney’s answer on immigration seemed tepid and unsure, while Obama asserted himself clearly. Yet the fundamental issue of this election — as every poll shows — is the economy.
And it is here where Romney is not the plutocrat of the Democratic Party’s caricature of him, but a knowledgeable and experienced leadership.
Romney was quick on his toes and sincere throughout tonight’s debate proceedings. On the economy, the president can promise the moon, but things have not improved. And Romney did a solid job of continuously holding the President Obama do his record — not his lofty rhetoric.
Romney effectively launched back to this theme often. In each of the clashes involving the young president and the former Gov. of Massachusetts, it was Obama who seemed angered and petulant.
According to recent polls, it appears a majority of the electorate is thinking seriously about replacing the president of the United States. Obama’s best chance during this election season has been to portray Republican challenger Romney as radioactive.
Consequently, President Obama might have stopped the hemorrhaging stemming from his first debate — but he did not stop the increasing sense voters have that Mitt Romney is an acceptable alternative to himself. If that is the case and it appears likely it is — it is all Romney needs to exude to become president. And that’s a big problem for Obama.
Such a large issue increases in consequence when the number one electoral issue is domestic issues with a shrinking economy, millions out of work, and deficits soaring. Given recent events in Libya, it is now all the more difficult for the president of the United States to point to foreign policy successes to clear the air of economic anemia.
Both candidates’ teams will declare their man the winner. But the momentum, so far, belongs to Romney because he does not have a dismal record to defend. In both 1980 with Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter, and in 1992, with Bill Clinton beating Geoge H.W. Bush, that was the only ingredient needed to defeat the incumbent. History matters, for it is unbiased and factual. And history places a great burden on a president that despite the difficulties in office, has not improved the general welfare of the American people in mass.