THE DEBATE If Mitt Romney’s goal of the first debate was to get at least a second look from voters, then he succeeded — big time. He also came across as knowledgeable, especially to those who might have been tuning in for the first time. Bottom line: Romney helped himself, and that has to hearten his campaign, his donors, and the entire Republican Party running down the ticket.
DON’T EXPECT TO SEE THAT OBAMA AGAIN “A stunned Obama campaign acknowledged Thursday that President Obama delivered a lackluster and even ineffectual performance in his leadoff debate against Mitt Romney, mistakenly opting for a cautious approach to handling his opponent that all too often left Obama looking timid and disengaged,” Politico writes, adding, “Even more frustrating to many Obama supporters was the fact that the president’s muted tone was at least partly by design … Projecting a calm, reasonable — some said ‘presidential’ demeanor was the strategy during Obama’s debate-prep sessions outside of Las Vegas.” But “one Democrat close to Chicago conceded that Obama ‘was not happy with his performance.’” A feisty Obama, campaigning the day after the debate, was a stark contrast to “President Xanax,” as New York Times columnist Charles Blow called the Obama who showed up to debate.
ROMNEY MARCHES TO THE MIDDLE While the president was acting presidential on Wednesday night, his challenger decisively made his long-anticipated leap to the center. Obama was civilized, subtle, excessively polite, and even seemingly indifferent, writes the National Journal. Romney was fierce and on his game. “Moderate Mitt”: There’s plenty of coverage of how Romney ideologically re-set his campaign at Wednesday night’s debate. David Brooks’ New York Times column is even entitled, “Moderate Mitt Returns!” This has been a subtle trend previewing over the past couple of weeks — with Romney acknowledging he’s the “grandfather of Obamacare” and using his Massachusetts health-care law as an example of his empathy. But, as that National Journal piece notes, Obama let Romney get away with this move to the center at the debate. And, there has been NO conservative blowback so far to Romney’s move.