Top 10 Points of the First Debate: Aggressive Gov. Romney vs. “Powder Dry” President Obama.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Oct 3, 2012
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Click here for: Governor Romney & President Obama’s Closing Arguments. {Video}

Click here for: Complete Video: First Presidential Debate.


Tweet of the night: Power-dry vs. Steamroller:

Lots of moments for Obama to take a swing at Romney–need a new accountant; know nothing abt deduction for offshoring–but he holds back.

Context: Mitt Romney, most awkward, 47%-of-America-ignoring candidate in history, was in an ideal situation going into this debate against eloquent, popular Obama. You alllways want to have the low bar, low expectations, and Mitt was in position to win or do well if he just did okay.

He did better than okay—his strategy of avoiding specifics and countering facts with his own truthiness played effectively, if not honestly—and his owning the rebuttal again and again helped counter any point Obama brought up.

That said, if Obama looked more passive, he also looked more patient, presidential, mature, and less condescending, rude, smug.

1. Who lost the debate? Jim Lehrer lost the debate. He needed a buzzer, or a gong, or rising music a la the Oscars. He continually got run over by Gov. Romney, which didn’t make Romeny look charming or kind, but did make him look strong.

Again and again:

2. Despite the ending of two wars, “no cuts to the military,” says Romney. And yet we’re trying to rebalance our budget, right? No investments in nation-building here at home?

3. “I like Big Bird, but…”

Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson on twitter:

Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive

4. Health care reform, and Medicare. Medicare will be altered, but…

Romney: “Not for current seniors”

Obama: “Well if you’re 54 or 55, you might want to listen.”

5. Romney said that green jobs, repeatedly, was a bad investment. Is he including “game changer” Tesla in that? An all-electric that just came out with a 4-7 seat car that runs clean, and up to 300 miles before needing a (eventually free, solar-powered) recharge? All new industries—indeed, all established industries—suffer failures and losses. Romney has said exactly this, forcefully, many times re Bain and its “harvesting” companies’ profits that then failed.

6. “Mitt Romney is so good at sounding specific while not saying anything specific at all.”

Romney’s strategy: attack (and make up) facts re Obama, while not providing facts or stats re cuts, etc., played out well. That said, Obama got in this zinger:

“…Is Mr. Romney keeping his policy secret because it’s just too good?”

7. Romney said we’re a nation that believes in the same God. Strange, coming from a Mormon. And untrue, coming from this here Buddhist.

8. Facts were in question throughout the night.

Here’s one.

NY Times: Fact Check: Did Half of Green Companies Fail?

A number of readers, including Patty Freeman-Lynde from Athens, asked about Mr. Romney’s charge that half the companies invested in under the president’s green energy stimulus have gone out of business.

That is a gross overstatement. Of nearly three dozen recipients of loans under the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, only three are currently in bankruptcy…


Q: Do corporations actually get a tax break for relocating manufacturing overseas? — johng158, New York City

Annie Lowrey: It is true. The tax code currently does allow companies to deduct certain expenses when they move operations overseas.

Another: the $716 Billion number re Medicare…if you don’t know why that isn’t a blatant un-truth, you aren’t paying attention (hint: it’s in Ryan’s plan, too, and it’s savings, not cuts)

9. “And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it.” ( I woke up this morning with one thought reverberating like a bell in the distance: Say Anything. If you can say anything, and play fast and loose with the facts in front of an opponent who knows what you’re playing and a public and media who will fact check, to some extent…imagine how you’d behave when in office, behind close doors.

…more “moments” coming, friends coming over to argue/discuss re The Debate.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


55 Responses to “Top 10 Points of the First Debate: Aggressive Gov. Romney vs. “Powder Dry” President Obama.”

  1. Osman says:

    Tesla just announced an early repayment on the DOE loan.

  2. MEC says:

    I enjoy Elephant Journal to read information about health topics not to hear what Elephant Journal chooses to spew out about politics. Thanks Elephant Journal.

  3. MLZ says:

    @MEC then why did you read this article?

  4. Gina Murdock says:

    Unfortunately, 'health topics' are extensively political these days. We all have to wake up & tune in to protect our bodies and our environment.
    Yogis must engage!

  5. elephantjournal says:

    I read your comments to hear your thoughts about health not your douchey anonymous trolling criticism without detail, that doesn't represent what we've covered for 10 years. Thanks "MEC."


    Waylon Lewis
    Jerkface #2 (you're #1)

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Dear Waylon,

    Grow up.

    Waylon, 2 minutes later

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Amen, half the night was about healthcare, affecting 30-50 million Americans fundamentally!

  8. elephantjournal says:

    I'm sooooooo excited about the new Model S. 300 mile range, no engine, first game changer in 100 years.

  9. elephantjournal says:

    Here you go: watch this video of a baby getting a bath and leave me alone:


  10. […] Click here for my coverage: Top 10 Points of the First Debate: Aggressive Gov. Romney vs. “Powder Dry” President Obama. […]

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    Haha. Good one Way 🙂

  12. Heather says:

    Romney appeared very strong vs. Obama.

    Romney did say some smart stuff about small businesses…and how hard it is to get one going and/or to restart one. And his point about being told over and over again stuff from his 5 boys/sons, which he is not going to start to believe is just so true of how many of us interact and don't even realize it.

    In my opinion, he looked pretty cool/smooth.

  13. bill says:

    Obama got 4 more minutes than Romney so what are you talking about "got run over by Romney?" Romney made the best use of his limited time.

  14. Heather says:

    According to the great Buddhist monk Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche presidential debates could be effected by how we serve tea. So, let's put them to the ultimate test.

    Each candidate should prepare a cup of tea.

    Whoever's is better ….WINS.

  15. karlsaliter says:

    BEAUTIFUL ride, too.

  16. karlsaliter says:

    🙂 That's pretty funny, I may co-opt it in the future.

  17. karlsaliter says:

    Heather, that would make as much sense as any other approach, plus, someone would at least have tea. I'm for it.

  18. sml1122 says:

    agreed. obama was more polite about it.. but he did keep talking and used more time.

  19. Padma Kadag says:

    Obama was up against the ropes…weight on his heals…allowed Romney to beat him up. Rarely called Romney out when he should have. Fortunately, Romney has televised his alleged "plans" for all to hear and as usual they remain inconsistent from week to week. Now Romney's "plans" are pubic and completely different from his plans a week ago….this wil work to Obama's advantage.

  20. Padma Kadag says:

    public not pubic

  21. sml1122 says:

    wow, im actually a little surprised EJ.. I thought you wouldve provided a more unbiased report re the debate, but what ive taken away form your article is that you are an obama supporter? as i am clearly still on the fence and considering voting libertarian at this point b/c i truly dont care for either of the front runners.. i went into listening to this debate as open minded as possible to see what i would learn from it, if anything.

    i had hoped your article would provide another perspective re the pros and cons, the good and bad of each candidates performance.

    i'm a littlle disappointed as its hard enough these days to find a media forum that isnt skewing left or right.
    just my feeling and .02 for what its worth.

  22. kate says:

    I was disappointed to find this political spew on your front page today. Have your viewpoint. Refrain from judgement. Respect others.

  23. Edward Staskus says:

    Are you suggesting that President Obama adopted the old "rope-a-dope" strategy last night?

  24. Jen says:

    Romney did come across as a better debater; however, he lied for much of it. Fact checking would be nice. There was little substance to what Romney said. See… for some fact checking.

  25. paul says:

    Romney didn't give a great performance, weak especially considering these issues are all he's been doing for the last year, but also because he kept pushing his "the market" ideology without specifics. And Obama didn't do as bad as some think, he was sticking to his own strategy of playing it safe and saying he shares many of Romney's positions but has a plan. He played it safe because he's in the lead. I wonder though if Obama didn't bring up any of the expected "attack points" because of the contract the "debate" is run under (the Commission on Presidential Debates was created by the two parties, and party insiders run it). Lehrer certainly didn't loose, there is no way any moderator could win as the two parties have made it game and rigged it in their favor.

  26. yogi henry says:

    dear waylon,

    According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the debate…what is really amazing/disturbing (depending on your preference) is “No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. So, I think the conclusion would be that the President didn’t prepare; didn’t know his material well enough to refute the challengers material with counterpoints; wasn’t strong enough to rebut the Governor or a combo of the 3. Making excuses after the game is over reminds me of a saying: “would you like some cheese with that whine?” Perhaps, the next 2 debates will be different.

  27. Padma Kadag says:

    I should be careful here with my response…dont want no racial undertone. haha. I felt that Obama was off his game. But because he did not say much to discredit Romney…Romney was able to babble on and make Policy statements much different than he had said before. It is clear that Romney only "won" due to his aggressiveness and not substance. Even where he would make sense he was stating policy he no where has stated before. 60 million viewers now can hold Romney's feet to the fire next debate.

  28. Padma Kadag says:

    Yogi Henry…I disagree that Romney was better prepared..How does one prepare for Romney when he has the luxury of putting the incumbent on the defense and in regard to Romney's substance…how does Obama prepare for the moving target known as Romney policy? Romney won on tactic and style. If America regards that as Presidential rather than substance then so be it. It did not help that Obama did not respond.

  29. john says:

    obama had jet lag and it was his anniversery, give him a break

  30. elephantjournal says:

    Agree. He has quite the day job. Had to deal with a war breaking out…

  31. Xerxes says:

    Gore said it was the altitude (LOL!). Seriously, though, a poll today of undecided voters indicates that the vast majority of them remain undecided after the debate. THEY will determine the election, and it must drive both sides crazy.

  32. elephantjournal says:

    Judgment isn't a bad thing. You're judging right now. It's practical. We judge when we choose a gmo apple or an organic, local apple. It's basic stuff.

    Politics affects society, life, and millions of Americans/the world. It's always been a focus of elephant's.

    Prejudgement is what I think you mean…that's a problem.

  33. elephantjournal says:

    I've been blogging about Obama, and Romney, for five years. I'm not unbiased, of course. Neither are you. No one is. We do however welcome articles by anyone with any view! Contribute, instead of complain!

    Also, I'm not EJ. I'm Waylon. I represent only my own view, not the community's.



  34. elephantjournal says:


  35. elephantjournal says:

    He John Wayned his way through the debate. He Red Bulled his way over Lehrer. It was Alpha. It was what he wanted and needed.

    It wasn't close to honest, but most of us care less about that than personality.

  36. MEC says:

    I didn't read it, I read the headline and commented. I am sick of people fighting and not being able to come together. Neither party is doing that for the greater good. I am also sick of seeing politics in my news feed, I "like" Elephant Journal for the health issues and yoga and I get politics too, I didn't know I was signing up for politics.

  37. MEC says:

    Yes, the debate was about healthcare but it wasn't me having to read someone spew bias crap about who they are voting for on a site I had respect for. The article was not much about the issues as it was raving about how much they think negatively about someone. I am beginning to think after Waylon's reply that this EJ is not worth my or my clients time in subscribing to. Waylon "note taken".

  38. […] That’s not me being partisan, that’s me being partisan based on the facts of what both gentlemen have said they’d do. […]

  39. MEC says:

    Yeah, you really sound like you are Buddhist, Waylon. Don't worry, I will be deleting your un-compassionate, non-anonymous-snarky arse. Don't know what I was thinking when I read you were Buddhist. Just remember when you look at someone, Romney or whomever else is not on your royal high stoop, you are reflected. But maybe you haven't gotten that far on your path. Also, stating truths would be a good thing in your little top 10. Just an idea. Love to you Waylon.

  40. Ben_Ralston says:

    MEC, you're sick of ppl fighting, yet here you are doing just that. (Read your comment to Waylong above about 'reflection'.)
    And last time I checked Ele Journal wasn't built around what *you* do or don't like, or want.

  41. Ben_Ralston says:

    I don't actually understand how it is that half the people in America are considering whether or not to vote for a) a lying, cheating, selfish, greedy, manipulative, weak, and corrupt individual, or b) a man with great integrity.
    I really, really don't get it.
    When I look at Obama alongside Romney, it is clear as daylight to me that one of those two is not fit to lead a group of boy scouts, let alone a country, let alone one of the most powerful countries in the world.

  42. Ramesh says:
    This morning new data needs to be added, he never said 'the 47% thing'

  43. Padma Kadag says:

    Ben…It is because Obama is black. They feel he is not american and "not ike us".

  44. Linda V. Lewis says:

    I appreciate elephant journal's write-up here in Canada. The news bites here on radio and TV also said Obama "lost" to Romney because Romney was more aggressive if less factual. (!) Obama is a statesman. He is also a gentleman who has care for the elderly, the poor, and the sick. Romney has never had to worry about money for one day in his life. Therefore he doesn't value health care, etc. Aggression in debates actually turns me off. Consistent reliance on facts coming from a statesman who cares opens my ears and heart as well as my mind. It is too bad that competitive aggression in debate is now seen as "winning", rather than consistent reliance on facts!

  45. paul says:

    It isn't half of the US, but half of US voters, so about 1/4 the population. In addition to our low standards for evidence, I think the Republicans are trying to figure out how to integrate and remove the more radical tea party, and so rather than run against Obama, they've been running for 2016, which is why there were few (if any) strong candidates running, and why they're more focused on voter suppression and the credibility of "the market" ideology than voter turnout; they'd rather set the stage for 2016 than run against an incumbent who could win easily if he tried. Consider too that Democrats are not without their own set of lying, cheating, selfish, greedy, manipulative, weak, and corrupt individuals.

  46. […] more. There’s plenty more by way of fact checking out there from the first debate, […]

  47. […] first hour-and-a-half long debate between President Barack Obama and ex-governor Mitt Romney ended without a single reference to […]

  48. shannon says:

    sorry waylon – i tend to think of you as EJ. you are the face of it, afterall. 🙂

    i respect your forum and understand the articles can be personal in nature – burtally at times, but thats the beauty of this site. it never fails to amaze me how some people can be so open about their experiences. its refreshing and real. keep up the good work as far as that goes.

    i just thought personal about personal stuff — not necessarily politics.

    i enjoy the articles and the forum overall

    i guess i just went into reading your article expecting it to be… a bit more….balanced . pro and cons of each side.
    wasnt a complaint per se… just voicing my thoughts in an non confrontational manner – i thought thats what folks do on here.

    thanks for the invite to submit articles for EJ.
    would love to try my hand at it.
    more info, please?

    (aka sml1122)

  49. […] you’re a Democrat, tonight felt good—like seeing your favorite baseball team learn from a tough first outing, and come back swinging. Either way, it was a real debate—well moderated, with plenty of real […]