In my post-debate post, I argued that, despite the outcry from Ed Shultz and the gang, President Obama made the right decision in not raising Romney's remarks dissing half the country. i didn't expect there to be such strong reinforcement of my position so quickly. But tonight, the other shoe dropped. From an AP story appearing on the Huffington Post:
In an interview Thursday night with Fox News, Romney was asked what he would have said had the "47 percent" comments come up during his debate in Denver on Wednesday night with President Barack Obama.
"Well, clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right," Romney said. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."
He added: "And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent and that's been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent." [emphasis added]
It's clear that the Mittster was just waiting for Obama to raise this at the debate. The moment he did, Romney would have gone into his mea culpa. And would that have left Obama? In an impossible position. If he continued to pound, then he seems ungracious. If he accepts Mitt's apology, them Romney has effectively diffused the issue.
That's because the American people are, at their core, a forgiving people. If we hear an apology that seems sincere, we are willing to forgive many sins.
But this way, Romney continues o seem ingenuous. When placed against the narrative that Mitt lied his way through the debate, his statement comes across as deeply cynical, and just another example of him being willing to say anything to get elected.
A few other observations:
As pointed out in multiple venues, including the National Journal, incumbent presidents have a very poor record in first debates.
Incumbent Gerald Ford was bested in debate by challenger Jimmy Carter; incumbent Carter was outdebated by challenger Ronald Reagan; incumbent Reagan lost badly in debate to challenger Walter Mondale; incumbent George H.W. Bush was topped in debate by challenger Bill Clinton; incumbent George W. Bush was seen as the loser in debate to challenger John Kerry. The only exception was incumbent Clinton, who had no trouble dispatching challenger Bob Dole, a notoriously bad debater, in their contests in 1996.Josh Marshall passes along some food for thought about why Obama has difficulty in this kind of setting.
I’m not sure I’d agree with this. But I did see several readers who cast President Obama’s debate performance last night as part of a larger problem of resisting or retreating from confrontation.The skinny on that CNN flash poll from The SilverMonkey:
Notice anything funny? According to the breakout, all the people surveyed are white, 50+, and from the South.And poll guru Nate Silver weighs in with an historical perspective
Over all, the relationship between the winner of the instant-reaction poll and the change in head-to-head polls is positive, although not statistically significant.Finally, the latest Ipsos-Reuters poll has some good news for everyone, especially the president:
The most essential stat of the Ipsos-Reuters poll? Despite some positive movement for the challenger, he still trailed by five in the post-debate sample. And that was after a night of fawning coverage in the press, and excoriations across the board of Obama's performance.The take-away? The sky isn't actually falling.