Both candidates came equipped with their boxing gloves to Tuesday’s presidential debate, but it was Mitt Romney who took it too far, according to Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough.
Scarborough said Romney “came on way too strong” toward the “female moderator,” CNN’s Candy Crowley, as well as a sitting president.
“If you’re going to run for president of the United States, there are two things you don’t do in debates,” Scarborough explained. “One, you don’t run over a female moderator. You just don’t. Stylistically you don’t. It’s very dangerous. Jim Lehrer? Fine, you can get out a knife and have a knife fight with Jim Lehrer, but you don’t do that with a female moderator. It’s problematic.”
Jim Lehrer moderated the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 in Denver.
The msnbc host also said Romney’s aggressive posturing toward the president could alienate independent voters.
“[As a challenger], you don’t run over the president, whether that president is a Republican or whether that president is a Democrat,” Scarborough said. “There are independent voters who believe that a president should be treated with deference because he is the commander-in-chief.”
“The Mitt Romney that we saw yesterday was the Mitt Romney who was very successful in cutting off Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry and Herman Cain when the stakes were far lower,” he continued. “It took him about 20 minutes to figure out he just couldn’t be that much of a bulldozer.”
Political journalists, observers, and msnbc analysts John Heilemann and Mark Halperin also joined the Morning Joe panel Wednesday and said the president mostly held the upper hand on Tuesday.
“This debate was, I thought, the mirror image of Denver,” said Heilemann, New York Magazine’s national affairs editor. “In Denver, Mitt Romney had a plan, a strategy, he executed it. President Obama didn’t have those things.”
Reactions to the town-hall-style presidential debate at Long Island’s Hofstra University debate between President Obama and GOP challenger Romney seem to largely favor the president. Many had wondered ahead of Tuesday whether or not the president would turn in a similarly lackluster performance as he did at the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 in Denver. Instead, voters were treated to a no-holds-barred kind of event. (The New York Times main headline reads: Rivals Bring Bare Fists to Rematch).
As expected, the debate touched on everything from the recent U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, to jobs and immigration.
“I think the president won for two reasons,” said Halperin, senior political analyst at Time magazine. “One, is Libya – an issue the Republicans thought they’d have an advantage on, and instead Romney gave an incredibly weak answer and the president gave a very strong one.”
Halperin also praised the president for getting “inside” Romney’s head.
“Romney loses as a politician when his opponents get inside his head on being rich and supporting policies which would seem to favor the rich,” he said. “I thought the president did it all night, and Romney showed it. The guy from Denver was largely not there.”