Presidential Debate Full Video: Obama Notches a Clear Victory


UPDATE - End. Who Won the Debate?

Romney's close was strong, but my comments below stand. I liked Obama's WWII theme in his close.

I'm signing off, thanks for reading, I'll likely be back in full force for the Foreign Policy Debate next week. And I'll have some pictures and graphics ready for that one.

UPDATE - 10:33pm

Well I see a clear-cut victory for Obama. He did what I asked - put WHY before WHAT - most of the time. Obama dominated the clock, and most questions were very favorable to his ideology. On issues, Obama was VERY strong on Libya, and Romney walked into a trap on China that reminds people that he's nothing like them. On optics, Obama looked Presidential again and Crowley tossed him a couple of bones. Meanwhile Mittens was a bit spastic in the early-going and looked way too testy, which killed his goal of image-softening.

The CNN undecided voter dial was consistently higher for the Democrat than the Republican, and this is a complete 180 from the last two debates. I'm excited to see the Republicans try to spin this one as a victory.

Look for some undecided voters (especially those who backed Obama in '08 against a weak McCain-Palin ticket) to come home to Obama in the polls over the next week.

Also, I have now finished a full glass of port, so I'm feeling good in multiple ways. 

UPDATE 10:20pm

Oooh gun control question. I didn't expect one. Obama's response uses good values framing - tradition, family.

Here's a tweet I agree with by @WestleyBayas "That statement from the President on Libya probably just secured his reelection."

UPDATE 10:13pm

First question about security - Libya time.

Obama nailed the values piece by saying nobody care more about security... before he went to details. Also smart to use the word "accountability." The dial is very high because people trust Obama on security.

Romney's Libya response interestingly has ZERO m-f split on the dial until he goes after Obama, when men dip lower, then the lines rejoin.

UPDATE 10:07pm

Teacher told Romney to sit down. I bet we'll see Obama interrupting Romney on the immigration question replayed a couple times in the post-debate.

Great tweet from a friend - Romney's 5-point plan = the new 9-9-9.

UPDATE: 10:03pm

I've been talking about the demographic shift in this country that favors Dems for a long time. You see some evidence of this playing out in the immigration question, as well as the first question from a young student.. These are not the questions Romney wants!

Word to the Prez: Mittens is stuck in details mode. Time to bust out some lofty ideals and make this crowd FEEL it. It'll drive home the contrast and you'll clinch the debate.

UPDATE 9:57pm

Romney hasn't used a values statement to frame a policy in a long time. His dial on CNN is staying put at the midline. And he admitted that the President had an economic recovery!

UPDATE 9:52pm

Obama should have thanked that guy for his vote.

Nice work on first Bin Laden kill reminder at 9:51pm

UPDATE 9:50pm

Easy hit for Obama smacking down Romney on China. Seriously, did the Romney debate prep team not see that coming?


The voters on the dial get really mad when Romney talks over Candy Crowley. Gotta love the women making 70% question. HUGE softball for Obama. Love that he led with the personal connection before the swinging at the easy policy portion. Why before what: accomplished!

Romney starts with an inauthentic "important topic." But then goes to a hiring women story, which is good. But c'mon, Romney, you hired women for political optics, not cuz you deeply cared.


UPDATE 9:32pm

Obama's back onto numbers and details without values framing. He missed an opportunity on the tax question rebuttal and the dial on CNN shows it. But at least he looked good doing it.

UPDATE 9:29pm

First vets mention - from Obama - Hire Our Heroes tax credit. Woo hoo!

UPDATE 9:25pm

Mitt's dial went way down when he started getting wonky. He just spent two minutes saying nothing useful about taxes. Obama's answer should start with "did you understand any of that?"

UPDATE 9:19pm

Romney has a deep voice. Obama needs to lower his and remember that he's completely in control. Romney looks way too testy and could alienate voters if he keeps going Biden-style. Obama should not have walked away - he shouldn't let Mitt look like he's driving him away. Stand your ground Obama!

UPDATE 9:13pm

Obama's leading with values, answering the energy question by asserting control of our energy future. A classic talking point. This is what I was looking for. Liking this debate.

UPDATE 9:11pm

I'm surprised it turned nasty this early. The dial on CNN isn't responding well, but it is nice to see Obama hitting Romney while keeping swagger. Romney looks flustered.

UPDATE 9:04pm

Romney and Obama both using the "running man" seating position with one foot tucked, ready to pounce.

The college job intro question should be good for Obama, and it was - much more specific and spoke to a much wider audience. Smart to transition to manufacturing in the midwest and saving money by ending war.

I wonder if Romney will keep his focus on connecting with the individual and miss the ability to connect with everyone watching.

UPDATE 9:00pm

Thoughts at the start:

Townhall format is good for Obama because he can connect with voters more easily than uberwealthy Romney.

I'm worried about the "I lost my job" question that is inevitable.

Decent odds on the military mom "When will my son come home from war?" question.

5:1 odds on someone asking a baseball playoffs question that Romney can't answer.


In a classic TED Talk, author Simon Sinek lays out the one secret that all great leaders use when selling their ideas: put WHY before WHAT.  

Here’s the landscape: President Obama is heading into a second debate with Mitt Romney on favorable terms despite a first performance that was widely panned. The electoral map is heavily slanted toward Obama. He’s been close to clinching Ohio for weeks, and locking in just a few thousand more undecided voters will essentially end the election. By contrast, Romney has to run the table on half a dozen toss-up states to hit 270 electoral votes.

The turf is slanted toward Obama because the country is moving toward Democratic philosophy. Younger and more diverse voters are in the midst of a population bulge, flooding states like Colorado and Virginia with new demographics that don’t connect with a traditional conservative message. Romney’s team gets this (heck, they live in Boston!) and moved the Republican hard and fast toward the center in debate #1.

In the 2008 debates, Obama drove home this contrast with the simple visual message: look at cool Barack then watch confused John McCain. But Romney and Ryan are much more disciplined candidates and Obama will need to step up his game.

For Obama, if he simply puts “why” before “what,” he can crush Romney, because far more people actually agree with Obama’s core governing philosophy of middle class growth. By comparison, the Romney core philosophy is that society is best driven by a group of elites. These elites are naturally more fit than the rest, so the rest should support them and let them drive economic growth. It’s an Ayn Rand style philosophy that, in Romney’s own mind, validates his absurd wealth and teeny-tiny tax. But Ohio and Florida moderates disagree.

So how does this work? Well, let’s take a look at an Obama economy quote from the first debate:

Now, we all know that we've got to do more. And so I've put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan.

It's on a website. You can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make and what revenue we raise.

And the way we do it is $2.50 for every cut, we ask for a dollar of additional revenue, paid for, as I indicated earlier, by asking those of us who have done very well in this country to contribute a little bit more to reduce the deficit.

And Governor Romney earlier mentioned the Bowles-Simpson commission. Well, that's how the commission — bipartisan commission that talked about how we should move forward suggested we have to do it — in a balanced way with some revenue and some spending cuts. And this is a major difference that Governor Romney and I have.

Now, compare that with a Bill Clinton quote from his second debate in 1996 (emphasis added):

I have a simple philosophy that I tried to follow for the last four years: Do what creates opportunity for all, what reinforces responsibility from all of us, and what will help us build a community where everybody's got a role to play and a place at the table.

Compared to four years ago, we're clearly better off. We've got ten and a half million more jobs, the deficit's been reduced by 60 percent. Incomes are rising for the first time in a decade, the crime rates, the welfare rolls are falling, we're putting , 100,000 more police on the street. 60,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers have been denied handguns. 

But that progress is only the beginning…. I think what really matters is what we can do to build strong families. Strong families need a strong economy…

We ought to help protect our kids from drugs and guns and gangs and tobacco. We ought to help move a million people from welfare to work and we ought to create the finest education system in the world where every 18-year-old can go on to college and all of our younger children have great educational opportunities. If we do those things, we can build that bridge to the 21st century.

Imagine an Obama who is similarly able to put his “why” before his “what.”

We might instead have an answer to the debt and recovery question that sounds like this: 

Mitt Romney and I have one major difference and you should base your vote on it. I believe in creating opportunity for everyone across all parts of society. He believes in creating opportunity targeted for those already wealthy. I say, let’s make YOU wealthier first.

If you understand this basic difference, you can understand all of our economic policies.

When the economy collapsed before I took office, I had a choice. Let Detroit go bankrupt, which might have helped wealthy investors in Toyota and Mercedes. Or rebuild our industry, which provided opportunity to families in all walks of life. That’s why I made the hard choice to back a stimulus, and why Mitt Romney is so angry about it.

When setting a tax rate, Mitt says let’s have the wealthy pay far less. I say we need to have a sense of economic patriotism. We have to balance low taxes with strong education, strong defense, investments in better transportation and infrastructure, and building a new energy future. So instead I ask the multimillionaires to pay a bit more, and use our pooled money to provide a better life for the middle class. You can pick which approach you want to take on November 6.

With this basic framework, Obama can hammer Romney on Medicare, Social Security, and all of the other anti-middle class positions he has taken. And people will actually understand it! But it all starts with the basic “why” before “what” that Clinton uses masterfully. If the Obama debate team is drilling in this simple proposition, they’ll have another term. I guarantee it.