Obama and Romney Spar in First Debate, Hollywood Reacts
President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney sparred Wednesday like a pair of heavyweights in the first of three scheduled debates, but it was Romney who delivered the bulk of the punches.
Romney established that he has the rhetorical moves and gravitas to stay in the ring with Obama, who seemed to fall far short of pre-debate expectations. Though Obama can be a soaring platform speaker, his tendency to be a slightly halting and pedantic debater surfaced frequently Wednesday. Romney, meanwhile, came out fighting, taking Obama to task over the issues.
Early reaction had Romney clearly winning, but the real verdict will come in the next few days, as pollsters look for reaction in the crucial swing states, where the two candidates are running within a few points of one another.
For much of Wednesday’s debate, which was devoted to domestic policy, the two candidates seemed to be talking past each other, swapping wholly different statistics on tax policy and health care reform.
PBS anchorman Jim Lehrer—who heard Romney say he plans to zero out public television’s funding—was saddled with an unwieldy format that prohibited any audience response and repeatedly found himself unable to control either debater’s disregard for their allotted time limits.
The two candidates came across as affable, rather than intense rivals, and if the evening deserved to be remembered for anything, it was the absence of heart-felt conflict or memorable phrases and exchanges.
Early Twitter reactions:
What I think is going to be awesome to see is how Obama deals with tonight. The next debate is going to rock. Rocky Balboa??— Mark Ruffalo (@Mruff221) October 4, 2012
Ok, here's my optimistic tweet: Romney didn't convince a single Obama voter to change their vote. But O needed to fire up the base. Not done— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) October 4, 2012
Obama is a potentially great man who remains mildly uncomfortable in public life.Mitt is a gifted off-shore money tycoon and tax preparer— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) October 4, 2012
Obama appears to be losing the debate, and America's comedians see a ray of hope for the next 4 years.— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) October 4, 2012
Undecided voters know this is a wash.— Roseanne Barr (@TheRealRoseanne) October 4, 2012
Proud of the President for addressing military over-spending. Fact: we're throwing money at a Pentagon that's explicitly told us to stop.— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) October 4, 2012
Mittens, if you want the federal gov't out of our health care decisions, then stay the F out of our VAGINAS. #debate2012— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) October 4, 2012
Ugh. This debate is going just well/badly enough that both sides can claim victory with conviction. Annoying.— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) October 4, 2012
Mitt seemed sharper and Obama stuttered & mumbled a little too much for my taste. It was close but I think Romney (gulp) edged him.— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) October 4, 2012
Mitt has Republican good looks— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) October 4, 2012
Social Security is money I put away from every job HELL Yea I'm entitled to that money!!— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) October 4, 2012
I believe its important to note before this begins that Romney is a millionaire and paid well below the average tax rate, paying only 13.9%.— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) October 3, 2012
Aww shit. Romney did the Nixon upper lip wipe. I think his "I'm taking away Big Bird" statement just sunk in— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) October 4, 2012
Between these two explanations of health care I don't know what the fuck is happening.— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) October 4, 2012