Matthews: First presidential debate will be an important fight

Updated

Let me finish tonight with next week’s first debate in Denver.

I’ll be out there to watch the two of them go at it. I have no real idea what to expect. I think Romney will take some hard shots; he may spend the whole 90 minutes blasting away at the President, serving him with one indictment after another, hoping that something will stick. 

I think Obama will play with him, parry the assaults, block the blows, try to keep his head clear so he can avoid getting hurt. I think it will start slow with both men trying to be cautious, neither able to land a punch, not hard enough to register with the tens of millions watching.  

Then it will happen: Romney will deliver what is clearly a pre-rehearsed moment, a sound byte. It will be something about Obama not delivering on a promise, something about the economy he said he’d do but hasn’t. He will expect the President to defend himself.  

When he does, pointing to what he inherited from Bush, Romney will pounce. He’ll say that Obama’s not running against Bush. This will be the Romney strategy: get Obama to pass the buck on the tough economic recovery and then land his Sunday punch.

I suppose President Obama knows this is all coming and is preparing to deal with it. The good news is this: a month ago, all his rival had to so was say that Obama’s done his best—he got his stimulus, got his healthcare program…and here we are. I think that might have nailed it—a month ago. 

Something’s changed. It could have been something as definite as Bill Clinton’s speech but people don’t feel stuck like they did, don’t think all we need is some other president—and that’s Romney’s problem, and it’s a big one.

Debates and Hardball Let Me Finish

Matthews: First presidential debate will be an important fight

Updated