OBAMA’S NARROW VICTORY
NEW YORK TIMES
…The narrow win [President Obama] gained in the second presidential debate…owed something to Romney’s performance, which, though highly effective in stretches, also showcased more of his flaws, both as a debater and as a candidate. Romney is very skillful at the on-stage slash and parry, but he has weak spots, and veterans of the long Republican primary slog remember two of them particularly well. One is his tendency to argue pointlessly with the moderator and his opponents over the rules of order. The other is his habit of pressing his advantage too far, seeking a kind of alpha-male moment that can seem bullying instead of strong. He gave in to both temptations this time around.
MR. OBAMA COMES BACK
NEW YORK TIMES
Instead of windy and lethargic answers, the president was crisp in reciting his accomplishments and persuasive in explaining how he has restarted economic growth. Instead of letting Mr. Romney get away with a parade of falsehoods and unworkable promises, he regularly and forcefully called his opponent wrong. Having left many supporters wondering after the first debate whether he really wanted another four years, he finally seemed like a man who was ready to fight for another term. What he did not do was describe how a second term would be more successful than his first has been, and, in particular, show how he would cut through the thicket of Republican opposition if re-elected. …But the contrast with the weak and failed ideas that Mr. Romney proposed could not have been clearer.
OBAMA BARES HIS TEETH
NEW YORK TIMES
And his special challenge was to show some teeth…in a usually touchy-feely, town-hall setting not ideally suited to that. He needed to make like a shark in a tank meant for guppies. And that might have looked menacing and overbearing if Romney hadn’t been so happy—eager, even—to play the predator as well, the two of them swimming right up to each other, circling each other, seemingly poised to shred some flesh and draw some blood… It was an extraordinary debate in several regards. At times the candidates communicated such potent disrespect—even disdain—for each other that you had to remind yourself that one was the President of the United States and one wanted to be. They contradicted, belittled and spoke over each other in a manner more raw than dignified. And yet both demonstrated that for all the shallowness and corruption of our political process, it has given us two finalists of considerable brainpower and firepower
NO CONTEST, A CLEAR VICTORY FOR OBAMA
The same aggressive Romney who cleaned Obama’s clock in Denver showed up on Long Island. …The somnambulant president of two weeks ago gave way to a wide-eyed and aggressive president tonight who refused to Romney’s attacks laying down and who was more than willing to proactively take the fight to his Republican opponent. Obama hit Romney on his economic plans, immigration stance, women’s health and equal pay. They sparred over energy policy. And when it came to Libya, Romney got clobbered. It’s not that there aren’t serious and real questions that must be answered by Obama and his administration. It’s that Romney is a flawed vessel to have that conversation…
OBAMA TURNS IT AROUND
The race will not be transformed in a fundamental way — it will still be a dead heat — but Obama accomplished something of a turnaround tonight. He took steps towards undoing the damaging dynamic Romney cemented during the last debate: One in which Romney had assumed the role of the energetic candidate of change, while relegating Obama to the role of listless, passive candidate of the unacceptable status quo — of the “new normal.” … Obama managed the delicate balance of keeping his rhetorical fist in Romney’s face — challenging his evasions and contradictions and falsehoods — without coming across as overly aggressive, desperate, eager to make up lost ground, or unpresidential. …This provoked Romney, pushing him into a testy mode where he tried to roll over the moderator, which didn’t go too well. This race will still be the dead heat tomorrow that it was yesterday, but Obama made big strides towards turning things around tonight.