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Political Science Expert Dr. Wilmer Leon Says Obama Romney Debate was Style vs. Substance

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Governor Romney and President Obama squared off in Denver.  The stakes were high as well as the expectations.  Many characterized this as Romney’s last gasp, his last effort to restart his campaign.  Unfortunately, President Obama allowed him to do just that.

This evening came down to a matter of style vs. substance and unfortunately this is an electorate that buys style and does not understand the substance.  Romney was assertive, aggressive, and clearly understood that he had to sell himself to the viewers even if he had to lie to do so.  President Obama was listless, rarely making eye contact with Romney, and his constantly looking down and away from Romney made him look defeated.

The President allowed too many of Romney’s repeated lies to go unchallenged.  Romney continued to say that the President took $716B from Medicare and that those cuts will impact service.  That lie has been debunked by numerous sources but the President failed to mention that and that the Ryan plan cuts the same amount and then cuts more.  He did not drive home the point that his plan cuts reimbursements to providers not services to recipients while the Romney/Ryan plan cuts coverage.

The President allowed Romney to say that “Obamacare” will cause 20M Americans to loose health coverage.  The reality is that the 20M number Romney referenced is part of a range of wildly divergent estimates from the CBO and is at the very upper threshold of the range and not a projection. Also, on the “Obamacare” reference, the President did say he likes the reference but failed to provide his reasoning.  He has recently started saying,  “I like the term Obamacare -because I do care”.  He could have scored valuable points with that rebuttal this evening.

The President did well on his command of the data (substance) regarding Romney’s tax plan but failed to provide a succinct rebuttal to Romney’s denial of the reality (style).  He did well with former President Clinton’s “the math just does not add up” line but was so flat and unemphatic (if I can make up a word) with his delivery that it sounded almost as though he did not have confidence in his own words.

Romney’s 5-point plan for progress was not a plan but a goal.  A plan is a detailed program or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective or goal.  A goal is a direction.  Romney talked about energy independence; job creation, etc. but offered no policy initiatives to get there (a plan).  Later, when challenged by the President to provide specifics (a plan), Romney said he would lay out goals and go to Congress and ask how to get them accomplished.  That sounds like a man who does not understand that the president has the power of the bully pulpit, sets direction, and offers real plans (policy initiatives) to success.   By going to Congress and asking how to get things accomplished Romney sounds like he would “lead from behind.”  The President allowed Romney to get away with that blatant contradiction.

There was no mention of Romney’s plan to ignore the 47% of voters who see themselves as “victims” and who are “dependent upon government.”  In his closing the President could have asked a simple question, “how can you plan to be the President of the United States and by your own admission ignore 47 percent of the electorate?  There was no mention of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital.  The President seemed to run from the very ads that he has endorsed.

Going into the debate President Obama was extending his lead in many battle ground states.  According to Real Clear Politics.com the President is up in Florida 48-46, Wisconsin 51-44, Michigan 52-42, and Ohio 49-44.  We will see how significant of a bump Romney gets from his showing this evening and how long it lasts.

Tonight it was style over substance and style won.  President Obama did not bring his “A” game and he owes us more than that.

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