Wednesday’s Debate at DU–Romney’s Last Chance

That’s the emerging consensus, as the Washington Post reports:

President Obama travels to Henderson, Nev., on Sunday for a mission far more important than the usual swing-state campaign rally: He will huddle privately with senior aides for an intensive, three-day boot camp to prepare for the first presidential debate.

On Monday, Mitt Romney will do the same with his advisers in Denver, two days before the rivals take the stage at the University of Denver for a 90-minute faceoff focused on the economy.

With Obama assuming a small but clear lead in the polls with five weeks remaining in the race, the candidates’ willingness to nearly disappear from public view for 48 to 72 hours reflects the high stakes of the three October debates for both men.

Meanwhile, arguably the better debater on the Republican ticket, Rep. Paul Ryan, is busy…well, maybe not lowering expectations for Mitt Romney’s anticipated performance Wednesday night at the University of Denver, but certainly front-loading expectations in his special way:

“We’re running against an incumbent president,” Ryan told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace when asked about conservatives saying Romney needs a “clear victory” at Wednesday’s debate. “We’re running against an incumbent president with incredible resources. But more importantly, I don’t think one event is going to make or break this campaign. Look, President Obama is a very – he’s a very gifted speaker. The man’s been on the national stage for many years, he’s an experienced debater, he’s done these kinds of debates before. This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of a stage.”

Wallace quickly reminded him that Romney did 23 debates during the long primary season… [Pols emphasis]

So much for that. But setting aside Ryan’s trademark mendacity, he makes a good point.

The fact is, our recollection of President Barack Obama’s 2008 debate performance against GOP nominee John McCain was that Obama was good, but by no means dominant–we don’t really think debates are Obama’s preferred form of interaction any more than Romney’s. In the GOP primary debates, there was a persistent sense that Romney was aiming, and succeeding, to simply appear more credible than his often-laughable opponents like Herman Cain and Rick Perry. Relative “presidential-ness” is an advantage Romney won’t enjoy against Obama.

But as a candidate tracking downward in most polls, Romney is the one with everything to gain or lose in these debates, especially Wednesday’s in Denver focused on economic policy. Short of a force majeure event in the month of October beyond anyone’s control, Romney is just about out of chances to reverse his present losing trajectory. Romney needs to go big in these debates, but not in a way that Obama will deconstruct right after with fact-checked authority. Given that so many of Romney’s most salient attacks have been ripped apart by independent fact-checkers, Obama’s ability to damningly call out these errors significantly restricts what Romney can say. Romney’s fastest ticket to losing is leaving viewers with the impression that nothing he said was true. Obama’s first priority is to facilitate exactly that.

Romney could of course lay out an alternative vision for the nation instead of attacking, but given the nature of Romney’s recent problems, as in his stated opinion of a little less than half the nation, it will be hard to avoid raising more questions than he answers. We’re not saying this as a backhanded attack; it’s a recognition that Romney has painted himself into a corner. We truthfully don’t know how he’s supposed to walk his current state of affairs back.

If Romney can make a truly fact-based, if inevitably less bombastic case against Obama in this debate, he could certainly help himself in a race that remains relatively close. The question will be, with Obama’s rebuttals immediately available, whether setting aside unsupportable attacks not grounded in fact leaves Mitt Romney with anything to work with.

28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    … could be “Objective observers have already debunked that one many times.  But let me help set the record straight again”…

    Then follow up with “and here’s how my plan will help the middle class while your approach hurts them…”

  2. Barron X says:

    whatever do you mean by that ?  

    there ain’t no such thing.  

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      “Facts are what we make them.”

      Maybe you should jump off a cliff and see if gravity is just a subjective interpretation.

      No wonder your party has screwed the pooch and the nation with your denial of reality approaches.  Abstinence and trickle down economics are failures in reality that a Republican ideologue extremist like you can never understand.

      • Libertad says:

        Osama may be dead and GM alive, but Ambassador Stevens is dead and the economy has been downgraded from stable to ICU.

        • Gray in Mountains says:

          buy now

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          since the Great Depression and was tasked with getting the country out of the tailspin that the Republicans had put it into, he used stimulus funding which worked (ask Detroit) and the deficit now of 1.2T is about the same right now as the one he inherited in 2009.  It hasn’t gone up and we’ve brought our country back from the brink using standard Keynesian economic practices which are at the heart of capitalistic economic theory.  

          The rate of growth in the public sector has been the lowest since Eisenhower.

          Your side ran up the national credit card buying tax cuts for the rich and unnecessary wars and then a total prick like you screams that it’s Obamas fault that our credit is out of control.  What a disingenuous argument that isn’t supported by the facts that is being promoted by a dick.

  3. raymond1 says:

    Romney should exploit his love of firing people to can whatever staffer bragged in advance that any “zingers” Mitt delivers will have been pre-planned, not spontaneous responses.

    The Twitters are all atwitter with awesome suggested zingers for Mitt; here are some of the ones I liked best:

    This man’s going to raise taxes so much, the Caymans are going to have to build me a new island.

    You haven’t known hard times until you’ve liquidated stocks gifted to you by your father while pursuing a JD/MBA at Harvard.

    Mr. President, I lost to Jack Kennedy’s brother at the nadir of his career in a GOP surge election. You’re no Jack Kennedy

    Mr. President, Rafalca does better under pressure than you

  4. Barron X says:

    a debate on the economy

    is to persuade folks that the situation we are in, the circumstances of individual voters,


    it’s not really as bad as we think.  We are actually all mistaken.  Things are rosy.

    If you don’t believe it, just ask the President.  

    Would I lie to you, honey ?  

  5. droll says:

    Your WaPo article points out that:

    As Romney aides are quick to point out, Obama has participated in one-on-one debates more recently than Romney, who hasn’t faced a head-to-head matchup since his successful Massachusetts governor’s race in 2002.

    And I would think that a guv debate is a bit different than 120 million eyes watching you one on one.

    That, um, zinger, aside, if Romney’s only chance is “fact-based” case, that debate is going to be either hilarious or very quiet.

  6. ClubTwitty says:

    I heard it from Gov. Christie.  Wednesday is the restart, the reboot, Romney/Ryan 5.0  is the one that does it!  

  7. Romney could of course lay out an alternative vision for the nation instead of attacking . . .

    Willard’s biggest problem has always been that there really aren’t that many people who want to live in WillardWorld,  . . . and the few remaining who think they might haven’t yet figured out that they don’t have the net worth to qualify to get past the gates anyway.

    But, again, WTF? — “alternative vision”?  Team Willard’s tried just about everything else on their etch-a-sketch . . . what’s another couple shakes gonna’ hurt at this point?

  8. parsingreality says:

    Four years ago, I didn’t particularly like to listen to him.  There was, behind the words, a man not 100% comfortable in public speaking.  A tenseness, hesitations.

    Now, don’t tell me he hasn’t been getting coaching!  Smooth, eloquent, senatorial.  


    Now, if he could only drop his register a tad…

  9. PERA hopeful says:

    Keep workin’ on those zingers, Mitt.

    • beef bourguignon. . . ?

      Am I better off than I was four years ago . . . ?

      Well, I’m not a crook . . . ?

      We shall fight in the Cayman Island beaches, we shall fight on the polo grounds, we shall fight in the country clubs and in our gated community streets, we shall fight and never surrender our tax cuts . . . ?

      Ich bin ein 47%er . . . ?

      Pass the Grey Poupon . . . ?

      White is beautiful, too . . . ?

      How do you like me now . . . ?

      I feel your pain . . . ?

      Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me . . . ?

  10. Gray in Mountains says:

    had several different ways that this could still be lost. One in particular. There WILL be some bad news come our way that impacts the public perception of the President’s job performance. With 5 weeks left how could there not be. So, I’m hoping and pretty sure that the President has learned how to deal with bad news and its presentation

  11. caroman says:

    Welcome to the Mile High City!  5,280 feet above sea level!!

    You see, Obama will be here acclimating to the altitude while Mitch is acting like the away team holing up in low-altitude Henderson, NV.  Mitch Romney will be hyper-ventilating before it even begins.

    Another brilliant move, Mr. President!

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      There’s a reason the Olympic athletes train here.

      Nixon v. Kennedy, comin’ up!

    • ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

      I have to concede, I wish Romney was spending a few days here to acclimate. He could be at a disadvantage in our thin air that Obama won’t have.

      I’m not saying this to make an excuse, but if Romney looks tired and pale on Wednesday, this will be why. Our altitude really can make a big difference for the unprepared.

      • ClubTwitty says:

        I thought he was like a Utah hero, saved the Olympics.  He does have that mansion cottage in Park City, although I guess his other houses are near sea level, along with much of his off shored cash.  

        Still we all know that Washington DC and Chicago are at 5,000 feet so the prez will have the advantage there.  

        But maybe Paul should have taken him up on those 40 14ers?  

        Love how you are already making excuses.  

        Here, why don’t you try another pre-emptive strike…?

        Can you believe the soft ball questions the in-the-tank moderators tossed at the President and how totally unfair they were with the questions they asked Mittens????

      • Lurker19 says:

        Mitten’s here tonite. That could help him acclimate.

        If he looks pale and tired, it’s ’cause he knows he’s fighting a losing (lost) battle.

      • no initiative, no self-reliance, no faith in American capitalism, always dependent on freebie gimme-things (like clean air), just waiting around and pre-excusing your planned failures . . .

        Your team already knows how to un-pale Willard — it’s Mui Bueno Brown #4 — any Home Depot can color match if you can’t find it locally . . .

        Next, I suggest you get your Republican asses together and purchase some of that rarefied air that Willard deserves, and is accustomed to . . . maybe break out some special vintage from the Koch brothers, or better yet Adelson, since Wlillard’s nose is already there in Nevada . . . bottle him up a few tanks and during the debates let him wear one of the nifty rebreather thingies that was all the rage with this year’s tea party attendees.  Not only will Willard perform better, but he’ll also be seen as identifying with all those common American voters he’s been so concerned about this week.  

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