Can Romney Win the Debate?
Tonight's debate will be an uphill battle for Mitt Romney.
1) The President has debated in Presidential debates, where winning the swing voters in swing states is what matters. Mitt Romney has not. Only primary debates where winning the base voters mattered.
2) The President is ahead. Not by as much as some polls had suggested, but by 2-3 points. So Romney cannot settle for a tie.
3) The President leads by more in the swing states and trend lines are going his direction. For example, youth and women are lopsided in his direction in swing states. That is partly because the ads running there are different than all others. The ones on student loans, women's health care, etc are hard to rebut. They are false ads, demagoguing the issues but they are potent.
4) The President has a charming smile (repulsive at times to his opponents but charms everyone else), pokes fun at himself when relaxed, and is willing to say anything without regard to facts. Romney seems stiff or over-exaggerated when he tries to be "normal" and is very fact-oriented.
On the other hand, Romney could still win.
1) The issues are on Romney's side: worst economy since the Great Depression, Obama made it worse, foreign policy of this Administration is endangering peace everywhere, and Obama's social policies are out of step with most Americans.
2) Romney did well in a debate with Ted Kennedy years ago and demolished Gingrich by going aggressive at just the right time. So he is capable of taking risks when behind. Conventional wisdom says be cautious but if Romney is cautious he will lose this race. He needs to gamble.
3) Romney needs to go after the President aggressively, getting under his skin. For example, bring up the "people who cling to their Bibles and guns" until the President responds. Then when he does answer, hit him again on it. That may force an error because Obama tends to get arrogant when challenged after he "explains" what the "truth" is.
4) Romney needs to hit him on multiple issues. Hammer "worst economy since Great Depression and you made it much worse" (Obama keeps blaming it on Bush, point out that it was stabilizing but Obama drove it down). Point out that his energy policies have doubled gas prices. Can't blame that on Bush (should be a standard line). Obama said he'd bring more honor to America and more peace. Middle east is in an uproar. Peace through strength works, weakness always bring war. Tie Obama to Jimmy Carter. Key: Romney needs to be relentless. He needs to show that he wants to be President and that Obama is failing.
Which Romney shows up? Gentleman Mitt or the guy who ran Bain Capital? The nice guy approach will result in a respectable loss. We can't afford "respectable losses" right now: Obama must be replaced.