Remember the second presidential debate back in 2008? It was Obama vs. McCain in a town hall format. Most people thought Obama won the night. (You can re-live that whole debate here.) Well, we’re closing in on the second presidential debate of 2012: Obama vs. Romney in a town hall format. Democrats are looking for a repeat performance from 2008.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. President Obama was widely criticized for his first debate performance against Mitt Romney. He needs to win this next round. And if history is a good predictor of future performance, we could see a comeback.
During that 2008 debate, Obama delivered some tough talk and insisted on breaking format to deliver follow-up answers, especially on Pakistan. He said,
If Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down Bin Laden and take him out, then we should. Now, Senator McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I’m green behind the ears and, you know, I’m just spouting off, and he’s somber and responsible. … Senator McCain, this is the guy who sang, “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don’t think is an example of “speaking softly.”
Three years later, President Obama gave the “go” order for a SEAL team to fly into Pakistan and kill Osama bin Laden.
When you re-watch that 2008 debate, you realize President Obama has the skills and the record to win in this format. He doesn’t have to mimic Vice President Joe Biden’s performance against Paul Ryan. He doesn’t have to step out of character at all.
The president simply needs to bring the more experienced version of his 2008 self to Hofstra University in New York tonight night. Senator Obama’s got this. No problem.