This campaign – derided generally for its fixation on gaffes, regarded widely as nihilistic and unproductive – is about to get good, maybe even really good.
Here’s why: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney delivered a muscular performance in Wednesday night’s debate, clear command of policy and a willingness to critique Obama’s performance without coming across as hostile. President Obama, even according to some Democrats, has had better nights.
That means two things. Romney, already feeling a bit of a recovery in the polls and despite spending ample time during the debate on areas like Medicare and tax policy that aren’t his greatest strengths among independents, should draw some confidence and momentum. Furthermore, the governor’s partisans await eagerly a hailstorm of Republican advertising sorties.
And let’s not forget that Obama, arguably the greatest vote-getter in the history of American politics, is a competitive fellow who doesn’t like to lose. And, electorally speaking, it’s a feeling he hasn’t had to confront in quite some time. If he appeared a little heavy-footed in Denver, go put some money down on Obama bouncing back when they meet next again on Oct. 16.
After a policy-rich duel, both campaigns, for different reasons, now get to feel the adrenaline that can sharpen the senses and bring out the best in both. With 34 days to go, maybe just in time.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Analysis: Incumbent Debate Curse: Obama Falls to Romney
[National Journal, 10/3/12] If Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn’t win the first of three presidential debates outright, he more than covered the spread, writes Ron Fournier. He was personable, funny, and relentlessly on the attack against Obama.
Candidates Battle over Tax Plans
[Wall Street Journal, 10/3/12] Romney repeated his plan to lower rates while also cracking down on “deductions, credits, and exemptions,” while Obama said reducing deductions could not make up for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional spending that he claims the Romney plan entails.
Twitter Jumps the Shark During Debate
[Politico, 10/3/12] Aware of the danger of an overflow of communication, several commentators conspicuously signed off of Twitter to focus on the debate itself. Still, there was no shortage of banal tweets from journalists.
Analysis: Romney, Obama Both Overstate Energy’s Role as Jobs Engine
[National Journal, 10/3/12] both Romney and Obama proposed at the debate higher energy production as a means of helping to bring down the nation’s 8.1 percent unemployment rate. But as economists have said for months, energy production won’t come close putting the nation’s 23 million unemployed back to work.
Fact-Checking the Presidential Debate
[National Journal, 10/3/12] The first presidential debate covered topics ranging from taxes to health care to job creation. National Journal policy reporters took a look at how grounded in fact the candidates were.
Romney Floats Idea of Itemized Deduction Cap
[Wall Street Journal, 10/2/12] Romney, who has thus far offered few details on how he would close loopholes or end tax deductions to pay for his tax cut plan, indicated on Tuesday that he would support a cap on deductions such as those for mortgage interest and charitable donations. On Wednesday, a Romney aide said that details on the tax plan would be coming soon.
Which Presidential Campaign Lies More?[Time, 10/3/12] Michael Scherer looks into which campaign has been more truthful with the American people. He find that the Romney campaign has been more frequently brazen with misstatements. Though, he writes, “Obama's team has often outdone Romney's in the dark art of subtle distortion.”
The Truth About Bain: Inside The House That Mitt Built
[Forbes, 10/3/12] Daniel Fisher looks into the private equity firm that has garnered a great deal of political attention this election season. He writes, “Bain exemplifies a worrisome trend for private equity as a whole.”
Inside the ‘Romney Olympics’
[ESPN The Magazine, 10/3/12] The takeaway on the Romney vacation games: Mitt does not like losing. Five years ago, the GOP nominee pushed himself so hard to beat his 23-year-old daughter-in-law just eight weeks removed from giving birth that he was “unable to do anything but lie in a lawn chair. Prone, exhausted, chagrined, Romney [didn’t] move for several hours.”
What a Romney Administration Economic Team Might Look Like?
[Washington Post, 10/3/12] The Post’s Neil Irwin gives a number of options for a Romney administration’s Treasury Secretary: former president of the World Bank Robert Zoellick, Ohio Senator and former director of the Office of Management and Budget Rob Portman, former Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh, and more.
Claims Likely to Surface in Debate and Facts Behind Them
[New York Times, 10/2/12] The Times offers some facts the candidates might spin: blame for the national debt, whose tax plan hits the middle class harder, and whose Medicare reform proposal will best curb the program while saving it for tomorrow’s seniors.
Romney Campaign Dismisses 2007 Obama Video
[National Journal, 10/3/12] A senior adviser to Romney on Wednesday dismissed the 2007 video that shows Obama making controversial statements on Hurricane Katrina and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, saying that Romney will instead focus on policy during the looming debate.
Polls: Obama Still Leads in Ohio; Tighter Races in Fla., Va.
[National Journal, 10/3/12] Obama remains stubbornly ahead in Ohio, while the race against Romney is still close in Florida and Virginia, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released on Wednesday. The polls underscore the importance of contacting voters via cell phone.
Paul Ryan: 30 Percent ‘Want Welfare State,’ 70 Percent ‘Want the American Dream’
[Huffington Post, 10/2/12] As part of his keynote address at The American Spectator’s 2011 Robert L. Bartley Gala Dinner, Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan had his own 47 percent remark: “Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers.”