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Photo by Michael Reynolds, AP
The occasion: the first presidential debate of 2012; the place: University of Denver, Colorado; the candidates: President Barack Obama and the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney; the eventual prize: the presidency of the United States, the White House and all that comes with the office.
Does a good debater make great president? Historically, have the presidential debate(s) changed the course of the pending election? Is the presidency CEO-in-chief or commander-in-chief? Those questions have been bandied around since last night’s debate because some pundits have said that the candidates’ focus is usually directed on the television viewing audience and the undecided voters.
It is the moment in presidential politics that the entire country waits for – it is the super-bowl of politics, and there were over 50 million television watching the first one. The first one has come and gone, there are two more to come. But what it is about the presidential debates, in general, that make the undecided voter decide, or changes the mind of the decided?
Going into the debate, it was the first time in almost five years that the President and Romney were facing each other on the same stage, and since the main points were jobs and the economy, the labor statistics revealed that last month’s figures showed 160,000 new jobs. Notwithstanding, though that figure is miniscule in the overall jobs data, it has been consistent over President Obama’s term in contrast to the situation that he inherited.
Unlike other debates, this first debate had one moderator, Jim Lehrer, instead of a panel. Not surprisingly, the focus was the economy: creating new jobs, tax reform, survival of the middle class, and the incumbent’s record. The questions asked were the difference on how each candidate would create jobs, reduce the crushing debt, give the middle class a tax break, lessen our dependency on foreign oil, create news sources of energy, foster high-achieving educational institutions, preserve social security and secure proper healthcare for all citizens especially those dependent on Medi-care and/other assistance.
Here are some of the TRUE/FALSE statements:
Since the economy had the overriding focus, Romney went at the President with the same four-year question, “You’ve had four years and you said you'd cut the deficit in half instead you doubled it. (FALSE)
Fact-checkers state that the budget has NOT doubled during the Obama years.
Romney stated he would repeal the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) the first day in office and leave Medi-care intact because Obamacare takes $716 billion away from Medi-care.
The President said the increase for prescriptions for the elderly may increase the smallest in the last 50 years under Obamacare, and of course, children can stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26. Notwithstanding, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it’s constitutional.
But the most devastating of Romney’s plans – if he becomes president – is to roll back the clock in the form of states’ rights – giving certain powers back to the states; it may start with Medi-care, but before you know it, the country is in an 18th century time warp. That is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and millions of Americans fought, bled and died for: to take that power from the states and have the federal government provide some relief from Jim and the Crows of the South and few that were in the North also.
The overall tone of the debate was style over substance. Those who claimed that the President lost should bear in mind that there was nothing really to lose. Those who claimed that Romney won, what did he win? It was his style, mannerisms, verbal delivery that they liked because on the day after the debate, some fact-checkers stated that Romney played “fast and loose with the facts.” And President Obama said that the man on the stage the night before was an impostor… that was not the Mitt Romney against whom he had been campaigning.