I don't subscribe the the theory that Obama was playing rope-a-dope in the first debate. But that's exactly what Romney turned it into.
I hate to rehash the first debate, but there's a setup here. There's a lot of reasons why Obama did not do well, including the simple fact that incumbents tend to put in a poor showing in the first debate. However, he did not give the Romney camp any soundbites or video clips that they could use against him. Romney, meanwhile, employed the Gish Gallop to great effect. But therein lies his problem. Let's step over the orangey cloud for more...
Romney lied his tailfeathers off in the first debate. By doing so, he backed himself into a corner. He had these options - continue the lying and risk getting called on it, change his story and expose himself as a flip-flopper, or hope like hell Obama wouldn't challenge him again. From the start he was in a bad position with no good options. The first debate was his defining moment, as in it defined the Mitt Romney he was putting forth to the American people. He decided to continue lying. And hope Obama would not call him on it. That wasn't going to happen.
That's when the keystone of the rope-a-dope strategy happened - Obama stopped taking the punches and started throwing haymakers of his own. Rope-a-dope is only effective if you're able to counterattack after your opponent has exhausted his best shots. Obama was more than able, and rose to the occasion with specifics and pinpoint attacks. Romney had no answer all night. He had no ammo because he used it all in the first debate. Obama just pounded and pounded and pounded him after that and won handily.
Romney also made some unforced errors. This will happen when you've used up everything you've got and you're flailing to try to land something, anything. Error #1 - during the energy question, he asked Obama how many drilling licenses he'd cut, and tried to bully him into giving the answer he wanted. By doing that, he ceded valuable time to his opponent and handed him an easy opportunity for a rebuttal. Obama didn't miss, either. Error #2 - the Benghazi fumble. This was one of his biggest attacks for the night. He fell flat, and Obama was more than happy to not interrupt him while he was making that mistake. Error #3 - bringing up the 47%, especially at the end. He should have let that one lie, and instead gave Obama a golden opportunity to hit him hard with no chance of a rebuttal. Again, Obama didn't miss.
One debate to go, and all Obama has do to is hold serve. I feel a lot better than I did and just tossed some bucks towards winning this thing.