CHARLES TOWN – After President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney faced off for their first presidential debate at the University of Denver on Oct. 3, we went to the Spirit’s Facebook page and invited readers to tell us which candidate won, and why.
Many readers who shared their thoughts on the Spirit’s Facebook wall or privately in emails agreed with news commentators who labeled the debate a huge victory for Romney, a former Massachusetts governor. Most who posted didn’t go into their rationale at all, but said simply that Romney dominated this initial debate on domestic policy – and that he won by a large margin.
Some also leveled criticism at moderator Jim Lehrer, the PBS NewsHour host (and part-time Charles Town resident), for not requiring more specifics from the two candidates.
Below, a sampling of some of the more detailed responses to our post-debate inquiry:
Shauna Azar: “Romney came off as intelligent and well-spoken. Obama seemed to just fumble and repeat over and over what he was coached to say.”
Pat Mesich: “America lost. I say we vote for None of the Above.”
Kendra Michelle Thompson: “Although Obama could have come out a little stronger, Romney definitely showed [his] true colors when he said ‘poor people.’ Obama is truly for the middle-class people, and that’s where America needs the help and support the most. Education and health care are big issues.”
Eric Watland: “Obama was too polite. Lehrer lost control and allowed Romney to have the last word in every instance. Mitt has interesting answers. He said that his plan for Medicare was not a voucher … then described a voucher plan. He explained how he would implement his successes in his Massachusetts healthcare to benefit all Americans. His plan was an individual mandate – which is the same as ObamaCare (RomneyCare).
“He is still going to cut taxes huge so the government has less money, increasing defense spending … and somehow eliminate the deficit. No details provided on that fiscal miracle. Just read the [post-debate] fact checks. Romney’s nose will be quite a bit longer. To his credit, Romney was aggressive. And that’s all that really matters when it’s time to vote?”
Amy Rissler Brinkley: “Romney [won], by a long shot. He actually comes with experience and the confidence to deliver his message.”
Donna Taylor: “Romney prevaricates in typical Republican fashion: ‘Details? See me after my election when you’re all screwed. I am looking out for my peers, not you, the American working class (including veterans).’ ’’
Jesse Longerbeam: “Romney knew how to answer his questions correctly with NO hesitation. Obama said ‘uh-uh-uh’ [as he started] almost every sentence. More lies?”
Robert Thornton: “Romney [won]. I can’t say I agree with him on everything, but Obama must be stopped.”
Becky Sullivan: “Despite the fact that the president spent more time talking and going over time, he lost me when he lied that Medicare didn’t require co-pays on well care. I take care of both parents’ medical care and all four pay copays for everything! Also, he said that 98 percent of middle-income taxpayers had their taxes go down under his watch, LIE. How come then did ALL the five tax paying adults I do taxes for have tax increases? Romney wins it for me.”
Lori Robertson: “Romney on salesmanship. Obama on facts.”
Angie Fraley Coffman: “I don’t think Obama was as strong as he could’ve been but I’m sure there’s a reason behind it. Everyone will see. It’s still early.”
Laurie Ogden: “I cannot believe [both Fox and CNN] are agreeing Romney won and complimenting him. Maybe a new day?”
Deirdre Purdy: “I think Obama did an excellent job. I know I’m running against the tide here, but he was faced with an opponent who suddenly denied everything he had stood for before. Romney denied his tax cuts, that Medicare would be voucherized, refused to give any specifics. He could have attacked and taken him to the floor. Obama decided not to. Maybe he had decided beforehand not to stand on Romney’s throat on the first debate. Listening to substance, I believe Obama ‘won.’ Looking at Romney’s wild-eyed demeanor and smirky smiles, I believe Obama ‘won.’ I think as we process what we saw, a majority will realize that Obama is the man we want for president.”
Nikki Turner: “Why I think Mitt won – because he is for the people. It’s gonna be a close race.”
Three more debates this month
President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney will debate twice more before voters make their selection on Nov. 6, and then there’s the highly anticipated debate between the candidates for vice president coming up this week.
Vice President Joe Biden will debate Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, on domestic issues and foreign policy from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
The debate, to be televised from Danville, Ky., will feature Martha Raddatz as moderator. She is ABC News’ chief foreign correspondent.
Tuesday night, Obama and Romney meet for their second debate – this time in a town hall format with citizens asking questions on both foreign policy and domestic issues.
The 90-minute debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., begins at 9 p.m., with Candy Crowley, CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent, serving as moderator.
The final 2012 presidential debate comes on Oct. 22 and will focus on foreign policy. Bob Schieffer, who hosts CBS’s “Face the Nation,” will serve as moderator of the 90-minute debate, which begins at 9 p.m. at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.
The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates is sponsoring all four debates.
Expert on debates set to talk Thursday
Hungry to learn more about presidential debates in the television age? John Splaine, a history professor who served as a consultant with C-SPAN television from 1987 to 2007, will deliver a presentation, “There You Go Again!” at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The talk will include video samples and a discussion on the evolution of televised political debates. The event, to be held in the auditorium of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, is free and open to public.
During his tenure at C-SPAN, Splaine was an adviser for “American Presidents: Life Portraits,” which won a prestigious Peabody Award in 1999. He also served as a consultant for C-SPAN’s series, including “The Lincoln-Douglas Debates,” “Alexis de Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America,’” and the “American Writers” series.
Books by Splaine include “The Road to the White House Since Television.” He holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of New Hampshire and a doctorate in education from Boston University.
He has taught at the University of Denver and the University of Maryland and is teaching now at Shepherd University.
Air your thoughts
You don’t have to go on Facebook to share your thoughts on the presidential race and other topics of the day. We are eager to include the views of our readers on our editorial page each week.
Email your letters to Editor Robert Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send them by fax 304-728-6856 or mail them to Spirit newsroom, 210 N. George St., Charles Town WV 25414. Include your full name, town of residence and a phone number so that we can verify your letter before publishing it.