Romney wins, Lehrer loses presidential debate
The Kansas City Star
Former governor Mitt Romney won last night’s wonky, occasionally meandering presidential debate in Denver. Then again, all Romney had to do was show up.
Presidential debates, especially the first of an election, almost always hurt the incumbent. That’s simply because voters see the two candidates on equal footing for the first time, which tends to elevate the stature of any challenger.
Other than show up – and make no major rhetorical gaffes – the former Massachusetts governor had only one other task to accomplish in Colorado. He needed to humanize himself to the American people. He did, exceeding admittedly low expectations.
The Democratic party line, of course, is that Romney is a cold, unfeeling robot– a plutocrat who is far too wealthy to understand the needs of average Americans. However, save for a few too many interruptions of moderator Jim Leher, Romney came off as relaxed and poised. He spoke assuredly, at times even with a heretofore unseen passion. The former governor even managed to get a few laughs – including what will doubtless be the most discussed punchline of the night– an attempt to put a kind face on Federal spending cuts by mentioning the Sesame Street character Big Bird.
Even if you don’t think that Romney won last night, Americans of all political stripes seem to agree on one thing: Jim Leher lost.
Lehrer, who hosted his twelfth presidential or vice-presidential debate last night in Colorado, is national treasure. Nevertheless he struggled at keeping both candidates on time and on topic. It looks likely that Lehrer’s dozenth debate will also be his last one.