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Romney's non-stop Massachusetts bear hug is interesting. Appealing to the independents? His base is going to hate that association. But they hate Obama more?

I miss Ronald Reagan.

How long do you think it took the Romney team to craft that "You're entitled to your own airplane and to your own house, but not your own facts" zinger? The original is better, sure, but this one also reminds people that the president is a rich guy too! (Although the president himself says that pretty often.)

Is Romney smirking, or do I imagine it after that last remark? Grrrr indeed.

Welcome to Jim Lehrer's Last Debate.

He has a plane because he's the current pres, not because he's rich.

The difference in affect is remarkable. I'm disappointed that with all that Obama has going for him he doesn't come across with the confidence Romney is projecting. Romney looks like a happy guy. Obama seems tired. I think many people watching the debate absorb the affect even more than the content of what is being said.

Romney looks nuts ;)

What Rita said. Bin Laden! Team Obama's focus seems to be to point out that Romney has no facts or plan. But that doesn't matter on TV.

Also debates don't matter that much.

I've been in and out (the baby keeps waking up; teething is hell), but I'm with Grant - Obama seems steady to me, Romney seems edgy. But I can't separate the affect from what they're saying - Romney is flailing ideologically, so he comes off as unsteady to me.

Romney's approach is smart. He is pitching to people who don't really know how he's been running his campaign for the past, what? twelve years.Obama's closing remarks were quite weak.

After tonight's performance, there may not be a 21st anniversary.

Well, I think Obama got beat tonight, if I imagine myself as the hypothetical swing voter. Romney lied a lot, especially about his tax plan. He seemed actually to disavow his own plan. I'm not sure what happened at that point. He also played alpha dog in a way that a lot of people probably find unappealing. But Obama was not persuasive, in my opinion. Closing statements were decent, especially the one before the official closing statement, but probably too little, too late, for this night. What he did well was keep his cool when Romney was very aggressive. That's something Obama does have going for him -- he doesn't get flustered. But Romney had a very good night in his flow and comportment.

He also lied about Sec. Def. Gates's comments on the military budget. But Romney doesn't care. He is going for casual voters. He may have gotten some. If, and it's a big if, they made it through the tall weeds of this debate.

President Obama maintained his likeability but otherwise seemed tired. He was much sharper in the debates in 2008, though of course that was partly due to the contrast with McCain. Being president for nearly four years has probably had the predictable effect of wearing him down. He probably didn't hurt himself but Romney helped himself greatly.

I agree. Romney 8.0 is much more appealing.

Obama went high-minded, high concept, Romney went for a litany of charges. Two different brands. Depends what people want I think -- a steady hand through troubled times, or things are so bad that they want to try something else, even a caffeinated Mormon.

Romney won on the pathos appeals, interestingly ("can you help us"). He seemed energetic, civil and well-prepared. Obam gave history lessons and a lot of context that made him seem rambling. But, then, he sees how complex these issues are and he's been dealing for four years with morons and Congress, but (with apologies to Mark Twain), I repeat myself.

So lying your ass off is presidential?

"After tonights performance, there may not be a 21st anniversary."Why would you say something like that?

Helen--I think tonight was the president's 20th wedding anniversary.

Helen, see, Mark is making one of his famous "funnies," implying that the prez was SO BAD that Michelle will divorce him! OMG, ROFL! Oh, dear, what a knee slapper.

This debate was a Maureen Dowd column in action. She barely has to touch the keyboard to write it.

Romney won.

"They are exactly the same height.'Grant --Historically the odds are that the taller candidate will win. Hmmm.

My sense is that Mitt Romney got the better of the debate but that most of the commentators I saw on various stations afterward were making too much of that. We often do that in the news media: make the news of the moment more momentous than it is. It is an occupational hazard.Romney was energetic and Obama seemed tired. That counts for a lot a televised debate. Romney argued well against the massive Democratic advertising campaign to convince voters to fill the gaps in his tax plan in the worst possible light. But Obama still made a good case that Romney has something to hide about his plans. Also, Romney was so obviously re-positioning himself in a variety of ways that it may further confuse voters about who he is. And the video about the 47 percent was sort of the elephant in the room; I don't think Obama needed to mention it, contrary to what many of the Democratic pundits are saying.

I couldn't understand it all, but I was very encouraged by the courtesy of both candidates. Bully for them. We need more discussions like that.

The Washington Post provides a transcript of the debate here:

They both floundered a lot. Romney kept more on message, had his ducks in a row, sounded in control of his facts; Obama trusted more to generalities, didn't seem focused. Obama was soft and cool; Romney was hard and hot. People will see what they wanted to see.It's a shame the debate format is so chopped up and compressed. The issues are too complex and too important to be jammed into such ridiculously small bits of time. Very little gets articulated, taught, learned. Bits of information survive, but only if they're drastically oversimplified. That's a disservice both to candidates and to voters.

Mitt Romney was consistently brash, as challengers often are. No doubt his brashness will appeal to Republican voters. But is his kind of brashness what still-undecided voters are looking for?President Obama was pusillanimous, to say the least. He looked like he was staying up well past his usual bed time, and was kind of annoyed about having to be there, when he would have preferred to be in bed going to sleep. In short, he looked tired and sleepy. It's hard for me to imagine how such a sleepy performance could appeal to Democratic voters or to still-undecided voters.

MITT TO BIG BIRD: YOU'RE FIRED!That is the headline I expected to see, with a news story about how Romney's plans for "creating new jobs" relied on firing people and denying services that all Americans appreciate. Should the government play a role in helping irresponsible people, like the children who have learned from Sesame Street? Maybe there is an argument there, but I sure would hate to see children's TV left to the marketplace.

I think Grant is too quick to dismiss the debate as a game "modifier" if not changer. I'll bet on two points for Romney uptick in Ohio and three in Virginaia and N Carolina.And now Joe...! Looking forward to some fire!

I feel that watching the debates might reduce my time in Purgatory.Obama looked mostly aloof and pulled his punches. Romney looked, as my dad used to say, as happy as if he were in his right mind. Romney seems to have exchanged his conservative mantle for his middle-of-the-road coat. Interesting that when vouchers/Medicare issue came up, he wouldn't say he supported the Ryan plan, but that he had "always" supported some other, earlier plan dreamed up by a Democrat and Republican. Slight distancing from Ryan?

Just a note from North of the border. I was driving and listened to the debate via Sirius radio. Right from the start Romney presented as clear, concise and in command whereas Obama seemed hesitant and stumbled in speaking his comments. Although the CNN commentators said Romney provided details, I thought that a crock. Generalities are not details. Obama asked for them on the 5 trillion tax cut and never got anything. The listeners and viewers were cheated in my humble opinion. David P any word on the points gained in Ohio or other states. I'm not likely to find them up here.

"My MAIN point, though, is not about rates and revenues in theory. Its about the set of propositions about which Romney said ALL of them will be the case:- lower tax rates by 20% across the board- maintain current defense spending- protect social security- maintain current spending on Medicare- maintain current federal spending on education (about 15% of non-defense discretionary spending, I think)This is not possible."Dr. Peppard--Your conclusion that "This is not possible" is your opinion. I happen to disagree with it (hopefully that does not make me a liar in your mind), but you are entitled to that opinion. However, it is not a fact. You have a different opinion than Romney on whether he can be successful. Fine, but my main point is that, at a time when civil political discourse seems to be at a premium, it was most unfortunate of you to claim, in a public form, that Romney told big lies. I am glad that your last post did not repeat thatMoreover, I think it's important to realize that even if one does say something that is factually incorrect (for example, I think you have in claiming Romney lied), that does not mean that person has lied. As a theology professor, I'm sure you're well aware of that important distinction.Best of luck in espousing the conservative view among your liberal colleagues, I'm sure that must be very challenging. I hope this exchange does not discourage you!**Note, apologies for cross-posting, it seems the original thread is no longer open to comments, but I thought it was important to clarify what I am saying, and what I am not saying, and this thread is closest to the topic.

Clearly, Romney won hands down. Now the VP candidates are up (wednesday) - should be good.