Romney wins debate as Obama plays defense - LIVE BLOG UPDATES


PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates make sure to bookmark and refresh this page.


Debate Grades

Barack Obama - C+

The President came across muddled and monotone. He mumbled answers to questions and his eye contact was poor throughout the debate. While his policy and and substance was good, he still came across as disinterested and professorial. He's going to have to bring some vigor and fire to the next two debates or this race is going to get tighter than Team Obama wants it to get.

Mitt Romney - B+

This was definately the best Romney performance we've seen but it wasn't quite the game changer he needed. His delivery was great and most of his zingers weren't bad. Romney definately rose to the challenge. His biggest fault was that, when presented with an opportunity to dig deeper and lay out the details to his policy plans, he balked and talked in circles. But where he failed in substance, he knocked it out of the park in terms of delivery. We'll see a bounce for Romney and he may ride this back into making the swing states competative again.


10:31PM - Jim Lehrer's long national nightmare is over. Poor Gotye Lehrer:


10:30PM - Romney Closing

Direct eye contact with the camera, no notes, well rehearsed, smooth and on message. Focusing on the contrast wasn't great and the closing was all platitudes but the delivery was good, solid finish.

10:28PM - Obama Closing

Poor eye contact, flat delivery, decent policy but too little, too boring, too late.

10:25PM - Tea Party Republicans: "PURGE THE UNCLEAN. NO COMPROMISE."

Mitt Romney: "I love compromise!"

Can't wait for this relationship to blossom.

10:24PM - 

10:21PM - Update on what really matters:

@FiredBigBird is up to 12k followers

10:19PM - Dear Jim Lehrer, stop the forced contrast. We get it, they're different. Let the candidates take care of that, thanks.


10:17PM - There's that "trickle down government" line again. It's working and the cadence is catchy - Romney is on a roll here and Obama's face shows it. Very poor body language from Obama throughout.

10:12PM - Making up numbers, Mitt? Can't setup a better Obama zinger than that. Also, claiming the market will take care of pre-existing conditions ignores this thing we like to call "history."

10:11PM - Obama really needs to start making some eye contact with Romney and stop staring into the crowd. Staring at Lehrer, smirking at the podium, and refusing to engage Romney directly is really hurting Obama's apperance.

Now is not that time to be the outsider that bucks the system:

10:07PM - For how boring Obama is, Romney sure isn't helping himself by lying every chance he gets.

Debate Romney: "My plan covers pre-existing conditions"

Campaign Romney: "Pre-existing won't be covered if the market doesn't want them to be covered."

Also, are we really still fighting about death panels? Palin lives on.

10:05PM - ZzzzzzzZZzzZzzzz *snort* he's STILL TALKING? And I'm still bored. Professor Obama needs to take a drink and loosen up, this long-winded but monotone discussion is waaay to dense. He's no Clinton.

10:01PM - Obama chiding Lehrer was a big miss. Unprofessional. Good recovery by Lehrer.

10:00PM - The Big Bird Lobby is going into overdrive

9:56PM - Actually, Mr. Lehrer, Obama and Romney aren't different at all on health reform. Romney disagrees with Romney, but Romney and Obama sure do agree on the ACA.

9:53PM - Obama chanelling Clinton in trying to contrast himself with Romney on Wall St. regulation - not playing too well but the message is right.

Also, memo to Romney - Bush bailed out the banks, not Obama.

Comments from the peanut gallery: "Mitt Romney, Champion of Small Banks."

9:50PM - Jim Lehrer every time he tries to get the candidates to shut up:

9:45PM - Obama's response to Romney's Medicare attack fell super flat. Obama is coming across very befuddled and with absolutely no passion. Obama needs to wake up if he wants to finish this debate well.

9:43PM - Romney trotting out the 716 billion Medicare attack again. I thought he had retreated on that already earlier in the season - strange to see it come back out. I expect Obama to hit him hard on it.

9:38PM - Great piece by Brian Beutler on how Romney has been back-tracking on his own tax plan this debate.

"According to TPC, even if Romney closes all loopholes and deductions for high-income earners, that alone will not account for all the revenue he loses because of the rate cut. Thus, to make the overall plan deficit neutral he’d have to raise the tax burden on middle income Americans.

Faced with this basic description, Romney said, 'If the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I would say absolutely not.'"

Must say, super-heavy on pseudo-specifics all debate so far. Both are coming across as boring, although Romney has way more passion and life even though it comes across a little angry. Obama is way too passive on this.

9:32PM - Going after Obama for the continuing deficits seems to be working for Romney, although the attacks at one another probably aren't playing well with the voters they need to actually convert to their respective sides.

9:30PM - Here's a picture of Romney raising his hand refusing 10-to-1 budget cuts to revenue increases.

9:28PM - Mitt Romney + Big Bird = <3

9:26PM - And almost 30 minutes later, we hit the second question: the deficit. Romney talking about moral issue of deficit while conveniently smacking Obama around for people using social services seems...not the best strategy.

9:23PM - Doubling down on the math argument and pointing back to the Bush years is probably a good go-to strategy.

9:18PM - Obama calling out Romney on changing stances five weeks before the debate is right on the money. Romney is dodging so hard on providing the how rather than the what.

The fact that this whole debate is about Romney's tax plan means Obama is already winning. Bogging the debate in Romney's lack of details is going to hammer Romney's popularity.

9:14PM - Long and short of Romney's tax plan: "I have no idea how to not contradict myself five times in two minutes."

9:12PM - Apparently, Romney's announced plan to cut taxes on Sunday has been translated into "no tax cuts" by Wednesday. Also, Romney's admission to cut tax deductions should be sending Grover Norquist into crazy-land (you know, if he wasn't a blind partisan).

I'm sure Americans would be overjoyed to have their medical health insurance costs no longer be deductible.

9:07PM - Romney's first zinger is a home-run. Then again, lying miserably about  his job creation plan and  tax policies is not going to go well.

9:04PM - First question on jobs to President Obama on job creation. 

Starts off with nod to 20th Anniversary with Michelle - who needs policy? Weak response on "not where we've been but where we're going." He's going to have to do better than that to set the tone.

9:00PM - Game time!

8:56PM - Solid sports references galore on Twitter. Super pumped. 

8:50PM - Surefire way for Romney to knock our socks off on entry:

8:44PM - Alright people, let's get this show underway. There's only so much more feel-good family stories I can take.

On another note, the efforts to drop expectations for Romney seem to have worked:

8:16PM - This pre-debate coverage is ridiculous. Between the pity party with Ann Romney on CNN and the Rove-o-Rama on Fox, I'm not sure what to watch. At least the political ads are hilarious - thank God for living close to a swing state.

That said, I'll be the first to admit this is my reaction whenever CNN runs the faux movie trailer OBAMA v. ROMNEY, SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY style ads.

8:05PM - Comment from the peanut gallery as Ann Romney goes on and on about Mitt Romney's "dad" dependence: "Does anyone have bigger daddy issues than Mitt Romney?"

8:04PM - CNN is describing its heads-up display, which will feature a running clock that times total speaking time for each candidate, which will give the Fox News crowd plenty to complain about right out the gate since Obama is going first.

7:56PM - I guess we can call it guys, no need to keep going, pre-determined fate and all.

7:37PM - Ron Paul is scheduled to go on CNBC for a pre-presidential debate. Can't wait for the Gary Johnson Twitter traffic!

7:12PM - On the social media note, here is a fantastic list of Tweeters to follow if you're looking to get the full Twitter-debate experience.

Here's a selection of my favorites from the full list (for those, like me, who hate slideshows):

Ana Marie Cox - Columnist

John Fugelsang - Stand-up Comic and soon-to-be TV host

Jamison Foser - Hilarious

Erick Erickson - CNN Contributor and Red State author

Dave Weigel - Libertarian pretending to be a Republican at Slate

David Frum - Former Bush 2.0 speech-writer and one of the rare moderate Republicans who hasn't realized that the party left him two years ago.

Larry Sabato - Famous pollster and not scared to call people out on their nonsense.

Oh and ME - friendly lawyer and live blogger extraordinaire!

6:18PM - This election season is on track to break plenty of records, from money raised to money spent, but its already crushed an important metric for the younger and more tech-savvy generation.

According to Twitter Government:

The constant connected nature of the internet is the 24 hour news cycle on steroids. With social media becoming an ever more integral part of our identities, it is only natural that politics seep in. I, for one, am very excited about the interest and sharing opportunities that the internet has allowed for all generations.

Democracy is at its best when the maximum number of people participate. If tweeting about the debates is a sign of greater interest and participation in the electoral process, then I think the digital generation is definately on the right track.

6:00PM - T-minus three hours and counting. Tagg Romney, son of Mitt Romney, tweeted this picture of his dad preparing for tonight's debate, quipping "the brain trust getting ready for the debate tonight."

Pictured in the shot are Mitt Romney, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Ed Gillespie, Beth Myers, and Stuart Stevens. Get excited!

5:00PM - It's five o'clock somewhere, namely here in Washington, D.C.. The bars will soon fill-up with lobbyists and the watch parties will be kicking off shortly. For those of you seeking to quench your thirst during the debate, here is the drinking game that has gone viral on Twitter and Facebook today: 


Just to be clear, I don't recommend anyone actually play that game since that is one of the more aggressive set of drinking rules I've ever seen. That "over their allowed time" rule is downright suicidal. Consider yourself warned.

For those seeking something a little calmer and scaleable to how you're feeling this evening, the official PolicyMic drinkin game can be found here.

4:53PM - For those of you out there who think we've had more than enough of debate-focused public political nonsense, this tweet is for you.


4:30PM - Fact checkers have been a mainstay of this election season, despite the Romney campaign's dedicated stance that they're "not going to let [their] campaign be dictated by fact checkers."

PolitiFact has declared that they will be following the debate and fact-checking live this evening. 

Bravo, PolitiFact, bravo. Whether anybody cares when their respective candidate is caught with his respective pants on fire is a whole other issue, but at least we'll have someone ringing the alarm bell, even if nobody is listening.


3:15PM - What kind of questions should we expect tonight? Here's to hoping it's better than this:


There has been much talk about moderator bias and worry about the media asking softball questions and not drilling down on the candidates' answers. I share those concerns but am crossing my fingers that we get something better out of a veteran like Jim Lehrer, the host of tonight's debate.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed the a majority of Americans think moderator Jim Lehrer will be biased in favor of Obama. Media Matters published a takedown of the poll and Lehrer as liberal-leaning moderator soon after.

I have my fingers crossed for Lehrer but I don't expect to see much in the way of calling Obama or Romney on half-truths and vague answers.

Here are 10 questions that I would love to see asked, courtesy of Politico reporter (and my old editor at The Stanford Daily) James Hohmann.


For President Obama:

1. What do you say to the millions of Americans who might have jobs today if you had made the 2009 stimulus package bigger, as many leading liberal economists argued it should have been. You came to office promising bold action, and in the eyes of many of your supporters, blinked — with devastating effects on the economy.

2. Washington seems as toxic today as it was the day you took office. The country was looking to you to unite it, and you yourself admitted recently that you failed. In retrospect, do you feel you overestimated your own ability to bridge divides in Washington, and how do you answer people who say simply: Obama let me down?

3. People lost jobs in the recession and lost their homes. Why haven’t you done more to help Americans facing home foreclosure?

4. How can you promise to protect entitlements when you’ve put them on the table?

5. Why haven’t you shown leadership on gun control?

For Mitt Romney:

1. Many people watching tonight deduct mortgage interest from their income taxes, slashing their tax bills by thousands of dollars every year. Can you guarantee to those viewers that you won’t eliminate that cherished tax break for the middle class, and at the same time, name one tax loophole you do plan to eliminate to help balance the budget?

2. How can you keep the popular, expensive parts of the health care reform act but get rid of the underpinnings that pay for them?

3. Why is it fair that you pay a lower tax rate than many low-income and middle-class Americans?

4. Why did your running mate Paul Ryan need to give you more tax returns than you’re sharing with the voters?

5. Name three things you disagree with in Ryan’s budget plan.


What questions would you ask if given the opportunity? Sound off in the comments or tweet me at @markskogan


1:21PM - Live, on MSNBC w/ Andrea Mitchell, senior Romney campaign advisor said he prefers Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin to the incumbent (Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)). 

Rough admission on the day Gawker has a front-page story on Akin's 2008 assertion that doctors perform abortions on "women who are not really pregnant."

From a 2008 speech on the House Floor, Rep. Akin said

"You find that along with the culture of death go all kinds of other law-breaking: Not following good sanitary procedure, giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant, cheating on taxes, all these kinds of things.""All of these things are common practice," Akin continued, "but all of that information is available for America." (emphasis added).

This, from the man who currently represents 700,000 people and is campaignig to represent over 6,000,000. I get that you have to support members of your party but is now really the time to bring it up?

1:05PM - I'll give you all one guess who I'm missing in the debates tonight and no, it isn't Michelle "Jihadi Foods" Bachmann.

Dear Newt,

Never change.



1:00PM - Candidates and speakers are out in force ahead of the debate supporting their respective campaigns, but how much are they helping?

I wonder how many members of Romney's 47% overlap with the American middle class? With Obama showing double-digit leads on the issue of taxes, it seems too little late too late to be wooing the middle class vote. Then again, there's no time like the present for Romney to turn this thing around.

12:15PM - We all know the importance of polls, especially with the grand conspiracy coming from conservative bloggers about how the polls are rigged for Obama, and the attention paid to polls this election cycle is higher than ever. With many polls showing Obama ahead in most swing states ahead of the debate, the expectations look grim for Romney. Even the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports has some surprising new numbers ahead of tonight's debate.

Here's an update courtesy of PolicyMic Pundit Chris Miles:

New polls from the Rasmussen polling agency show Obama with a slight lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows President Obama attracting support from 49% of voters nationwide, while Mitt Romney earns the vote from 47%. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and three percent (3%) are undecided.The polling agency further reports that there is a bit less interest in this year’s first presidential debate than there was four years ago.That said, the debate will be the biggest venue yet for each candidate to lay out their plan and win over voters. According to the Pew study, a substantial majority of voters plan to watch the debate: 62% say they are very likely to watch, another 21% say they are somewhat likely. If Romney is on his game, he may be able to pull a big upset on Wednesday.

With over 60 million people expected to turn in, this first debate may be quite the do-or-die moment for Romney and a potential game changer in the negative for Obama should he come across poorly.



The first official presidential debate of the 2012 election is slated to kick-off tonight at the University of Denver at 9PM eastern and the expectations couldn't be higher.

The Romney campaign has spent the last week attempting to shut down discussion of Romney's disastrous "47%" remark by attempting to shift the focus to the economy and taxes.

For their part, the Obama campaign has continued their offensive on Romney's tax plan, forcing the Romney/Ryan team to attempt to explain their tax plan, something they haven't been doing all that well.

While both campaigns have attempted to tone down expectations surrounding the debate itself, excitement surrounding the first verbal sparring bout between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney has been the focus of media attention for the week leading up to tonight's debate.

PolicyMic will be covering the presidential debate live. For live updates make sure to bookmark and refresh this page. In the meantime, here are some details about how the debate will be structured.

The moderator will pose a prepared question to a candidate and the candidate will have 2 minutes to answer. Their opponent will then have one minute for rebuttal. The moderator can, at his discretion, extend the candidates time by 30 seconds on either end.

The questioning will conists of six "pods" of 15 minutes each. There will be no opening statements. Mitt Romney won the coin toss for selecting the closing argument and chose to go last.

In reality, these rules are merely guidelines (especially since neither side has actually agreed to the rules). Some media outlets will seek to address this lack of structure ... CNN, for example, will be running a game clock calculating the total time each candidate gets to speak.

Make sure to check back here throughout the day for updates on the run-up to the debates and be sure to click back once the debate gets underway for live commentary and updates from me, my debate-watching posse of DC lawyers, and the cumulative contributions of the Twittersphere.