As has been pointed out time and again, the Presidential Debates really aren't debates. They are joint press conferences. But even if they were free wheeling debates with candidate give and take, I suspect that we would get a lot of fireworks, but no real enlightenment. And facts are hard to come by in a Presidential Debate. Instead, you can expect from the debate format two types of strategies from candidates when they want to lie through their teeth, especially for Republicans. The first is throw a lot of so called statistics at the audience to prove your talking point. The second, if you are not good at memorization of statistical lies, is to project that you are a humble man and truth teller.
Romney felt more comfortable with the first strategy.
You could see Romney attempt to do this in the first few minutes of the debate with the so called "economy tax" that Obama has imposed on your average citizen with the lousy economy. Later, Romney went into a flurry of statistics to prove how awful things were because of Obama. This is done to prove how knowledgeable the candidate is and to demolish his opponent with "the facts of his/her record."
Unfortunately, moderators at these debates don't have the balls to have a big red buzzer go off every time one of those statistical lies goes flying across the room. Instead, it takes fact checkers and the media several days to go through all the "data" that is presented and make a judgement. And as Krugman has pointed out, journalists are loath to call a candidate a liar even when they are caught cold. So candidates like Romney feel free to lie with made up statistics.
However, for those mathematically challenged liars, there is always the false straight shooter option. George W. Bush was the acolyte of this method. If you think that you will get bogged down in facts and figures, you can bypass all that by making sure that the media has picked up the narrative that you are an average guy with a good heart that only speaks the truth. When you walk into a debate and some smarty pants like Gore starts demolishing your lies - say on your tax policy - with a few facts, you scream things like, "That's fuzzy math!" This is done to inoculate yourself from being asked specifically about your tax plan that benefits the wealthiest in our nation. This is Republican speak for "HOW DARE YOU question my honesty!" Your average Joe, who George W. Bush professed to be, would NEVER tell a lie!
And we all know how well that turned out.
Anyway, I don't have much hope for the other debates that are to come. Romney will continue to spit out his facts like a machine gun. The media will continue to not do its job. As for Obama, hell, I don't know what to do with him.