Quick history lesson: Radio listeners thought Richard Nixon won the 1962 debate with John F. Kennedy, yet television viewers thought Kennedy won. Why? Because TV viewers saw Nixon looking nervous and sweaty while Kennedy appeared cool, handsome and in-charge. Election winner? Kennedy.
In the 2000 debates between George W. Bush and Al Gore, debate prep helped Bush to deflect some of Gore's tactics, including Gore's habit of a stealthy approach into his opponent's body space during the Town Hall style debate.
In the '90s, Bill Clinton easily out-mastered his Republican opponents, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, with his perfect demeanor and masterful ability to connect with the audience.
Let’s see how Wednesday’s debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney plays out. Follow me live for full play-by-play and analysis.
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Former Romney debate coach Brett O'Donnell is making the interview circuits pre-debate. He lays out Romney's potential debate strategy in The Atlantic.
LA Times covers Romney and current debate coach, Ohio senator Rob Portman, at a lunch stop at Chipotle in Denver. On the menu was a burrito bowl, and visits with a toddler and a mom with a baby in a stroller.
President Obama and Mitt Romney get debate prep advice from the Washington Post's Karen Tumulty. Tumulty is considerably softer on Obama (she points out positives and gives praise) than on Romney (she warns Romney away from debate mistakes). However, in the sense of debate prep advice, candidates should want to hear the harshest criticism and feedback, and in this sense, her advice for Romney is more on-point than her praise for Obama.
Romney has been prepping for the debates with Rob Portman for weeks. Portman gives an interview to radio host Hugh Hewitt two weeks ago about the debate prep. Massachussetts senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry, who knows Mitt Romney well, has been the debate prep aide to President Obama.
National Journal polling shows the candidates tied 47-47 among likely voters. The gender gap in this poll is 7 points, with women choosing Obama 51-44. This is identical to the gender gap in the 2008 election.
Blast from the past: SNL debate parody from 1996 Clinton v. Dole debate - back when SNL was hilarious!
Is the 1% vs. 99% debate new? Hardly - they were making fun of it in 2000 on SNL's parody of the Bush-Gore debates.
Cannot believe this picture from 2008 debates - can it be topped?
8:36 PM EDT: Politico's most recent battleground poll shows Romney up 4 points with Independents, race between two candidates a virtual tie.
8:45 PM EDT: O'Reilly and Miller show video of Hugo Chavez endorsing Barack Obama for president.
5:52 PM EDT: Obama reported as cool as possible during debate prep and backstage. Romney playing Jenga with his sons backstage before debate.
5:56 PM Romney writes "DAD" on his notepad before every debate as reminder of his father's run for the presidency. George Romney's run was derailed by a misstatement about the Vietnam war.
5:59 PM EDT: Play the drinking game - don't fight like this elderly couple in Florida!
6:02 PM EDT: Question from Millennial audience: How many debates has that guy (Jim Lehrer) moderated? A: About a million. Lehrer says it will be in segments regarding domestic policy. Audience has promised to "remain silent."
6:04 PM EDT: Obama/Romney shake hands nicely. Obama wearing lifty heels?? Starting Obama "uh" count - up to 6 by him thanking Michelle for wonderful marriage and anniversary. Stringing points together with prominent "ands". Have heard this speech a billion times . . . uh . . . Gov. Romney . . . uh . . . education, training, new sources of energy. Millennial comment: Why would you invest in training for unskilled workers when there are so many skilled workers who don't have jobs? Catchphrase: "New economic patriotism."
Mitt congratulates Obama on anniversary . . . Mitt refers to people he has met people across the country, says he met a lady in Ohio . . . mentioned lady with baby from Denver, husband has had 4 jobs in past year. Can you help? Mitt says "The answer is 'yes'." Gives specific points, up to 5, balanced budget, passionate about small business, small business gives us jobs. New business down to 30 year low. No "uhs" at all. Confident! Looking straight at camera. Catchphrase: Restore the vitality that gets America working again.
6:10 PM EDT Millennial comment: I want them both to do even. He's still my president and I don't want it to be embarrassing. Obama repeats speech he has given for over 1 year. Uh count: 7-8. Millennial comment: There are no facts in anything he says. At all.
Mitt says he does not have a tax cut as Obama discusses. He says the people who are having a hard time right now are middle-income Americans. They are being crushed - have seen income go down by $4,400 . . . Obama looks irritated, lips pursed. Is he writing something down? Mitt passionate, specific. Mentions training agencies that are wasting money, wants to get money back to states and localities. Lower deductions and credits to increase tax revenue.
Obama: smirk. Looks like trial lawyer.
6:15 PM PDT Obama continues with his argument that Romney's tax/deficit plan sucks.
Body language: Romney smiling "kindly dad" look - right on edge of condescending (room agrees - it's kindly dad, like work supervisor). Romney: Power Tie. Obama - why blue tie with tiny dots?
Romney responds point by point. Looks firm, insists that he will not reduce the taxes paid by wealthy Americans, will not raise taxes on middle income families.
6:18 PM PDT Romney: "Let's get to the bottom line." Discusses difference between small business tax payers and larger corporations and tax rates.
6:20 PM PDT Obama mentions Donald Trump?
Body language: Romney looks at Obama - kindly dad, attentive look. Obama has not looked at Romney so far, looking down for most of the time.
Debate has gotten away from Jim Lehrer -
6:23 PM PDT - Obama has a "little tax ball." Every time he mentions the $5 trillion tax cut straw man, he holds an invisible tax ball and turns it around. He turns back to Clinton era.
6:25 PM PDT - He opened this segment, I believe I get to close - Romney PWNS Lehrer.
6:40 PM PDT - On to entitlements. Obama mentions Reagan first! So much for the Romney mentioning Reagan drinking game. Obama tells story about his grandmother. He's eating time by talking about his grandmother, saying she worked all her life and ended up being VP of a local bank, and was only able to live independently when she was older because of SS and Medicare. REALLY? Uh . . . Medicare . . . bring down costs . . . let's look at where some of the money was going. $716 billion saved from Medicare. Really? Is this like Mitt's $5 trillion tax cuts? Bad, rambling answer re: Medicare.
Romney: Seniors depend on these programs. Neither President nor I are proposing any changes for current or near retirees. 60 and older don't need to listen any further. President is cutting Medicare for seniors - rates being cut, 15% of hospitals and nursing homes, 50% of doctors saying they won't take any more Medicare patients.
6:45 PM PDT - Obama discusses how Medicare vouchers would not "necessarily" keep up with inflation. Obama says "traditional healthcare system will collapse" - says it will leave seniors like his grandmother without care. Invokes AARP. The "tiny tax ball" is now the Medicare pushback hand gesture.
6:47 PM PDT - Romney says he will have at least two plans for seniors under Medicare. Mentions means-testing for Medicare, mentions bipartisan support.
6:49 PM PDT - Obama says there is nothing wrong with insurers making a profit. "The money has to come from somewhere." When you move to a voucher system, you are putting seniors at the mercy of those insurance companies.
6:50 PM PDT - Obama appears to go over time, Mitt has to speak up to get in re: Medicare.
6:51 PM PDT - Romney refers to need for regulation, but it's become excessive. Lehrer asks for an example. Romney gives example of Dodd-Frank, designating some banks as "too big to fail." 122 community and small banks do not have this benefit.
Obama not listening to Romney, looking out at audience.
6:54 PM PDT - Obama returns to his favorite time period, the 1930s, when discussing Dodd-Frank regulation.
Romney mentions community and small banks again, and lack of definition of "qualified mortgage" under Dodd-Frank, which has restricted loans (true). Obama not listening - looking away - smiling and smirking.
Millennial audience: Is he smiling at Michelle? (Obama looking kind of douchey).
6:57 PM PDT - Romney on Obamacare. Mentions that majority of business are going to hire less people because of Obamacare.
6:59 PM PDT - Obama talks about Obamacare like it's 2008. Appears to be losing steam. Thinking as he's talking. He stops Jim Lehrer - gets laugh for having 5 seconds before Lehrer interrupts. (this is waaayyyy longer than 5 seconds).
7:01 PM PDT - Romney owns Romneycare. He describes process of passing the plan, with bipartisan support in Massachussetts.
7:03 PM PDT - Romney: With something this big, this important, it has to be done on a bipartisan basis.
7:04 PM PDT - Obama keeps up the Republican/Democrat battle, says Democrats in Mass. could have given advice to Republicans in Congress. Nice.\
7:06 PM PDT - Obama brings back the "tiny tax ball" and mixes it with a fist.
7:07 PM PDT - Romney says pre-existing conditions covered under his health care plan, and children can stay on insurance until age 26.
7:08 PM PDT - What IS Obama looking at? He is looking around and looking up, looking for some type of sign or signal? Like looking at the base coach?
7:15 PM PDT - Obama seems lost in the tules . . . "Let's start land grant colleges?"
7:21 PM PDT - Romney Zinger: Mr. President, you're entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts.
7:24 PM PDT - Romney conclusion - working with bipartisan legislature in Massachussetts. First thing he will do when elected president is sit down with elected leaders. We have to work together because there is common ground. The reason I am in this race is that there are people who are really hurting, and this crushing deficit will devastate us. We need to have leadership - could not care less whether it's a Republican or a Democrat.
MSNBC note: They are having split screen with Obama answers, no split screen with Romney answers (therefore not showing Obama looking around, smirking etc).
7:26 PM PDT - Obama says Romney will repeal Obamacare. Part of being a leader is a) being able to describe exactly what it is you intend to do; b) number two - you've got to be able to say no to folks in your own party and the other party. American people - their "genes" or "jeans?" Four years ago I said I'm not a perfect man and I'm not going to be a perfect presid
7:30 PM PDT - Romney thanks President for tuning in this evening. What kind of America do you want to have for yourself and for your children? There are really two different paths . . . they lead in very different directions. You can look at the record. There is no question in my mind that if the President is reelected that the middle class will continued to be squeezed with lower incomes and rising prices. Obamacare . . . many will lose insurance, premiums will go up.ent. He kept his promise to fight every day on behalf of the American people . . .
7:36 PM PDT - Ed Schultz on MSNBC flames Obama! MSNBC praises . . .
Romney! Control, wins every exchange, controlled the debate.
Al Sharpton . . . Romney won??? Al Sharpton? Really?
My verdict? I have never seen a presidential candidate better-prepared, more appropriate, and more like he not only wanted the job, but gave a damn about this country.
Bonus fundraising letter from DNCC:
On taxes. On Medicare. On Wall Street reform. On Obamacare.
Already received somewhat "better" correspondence from Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio.
Someone far wiser than me pointed this out: Pride goeth before destruction: and an haughty spirit before a fall. - PROVERBS 16:18