This is what the election boils down to. Well said, Mitt.
ROMNEY: I think you know better. I think you know that these last four years haven't been so good as the president just described and that you don't feel like your confident that the next four years are going to be much better either.
I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can't afford four more years like the last four years.
He said that by now we'd have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work.
I wasn't the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president's plan. Didn't get there.
He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they're on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He'd get that done. He hasn't even made a proposal on either one.
He said in his first year he'd put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn't even file it.
This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he'd do. He said that he'd cut in half the deficit. He hasn't done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It's gone up by $2,500 a year. And if Obamacare is passed, or implemented -- it's already been passed -- if it's implemented fully, it'll be another $2,500 on top.
ROMNEY: The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, "Look, I've created 5 million jobs." That's after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans.
There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.
How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It's growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.
The president wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he's put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.
You might say, "Well, you got an example of one that worked better?" Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period -- the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagan's recovery created twice as many jobs as this president's recovery. Five million jobs doesn't even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.
The president has tried, but his policies haven't worked. He's great as a -- as a -- as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That's wonderful, except we have a record to look at. And that record shows he just hasn't been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That's what this election is about. It's about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.
Did Joe Biden remind anyone else of The Joker during the debate tonight? From a politico/image perspective, I'm sure the campaign told him to just smile and laugh away all of Ryan's statements. "It'll undermine him," they said. "It'll be the image that people take away from his words."
Well, that might have worked during the first 10 minutes, but after 90 minutes of the smile--I'm sorry, about 70 minutes, the other 20 showed him as menacing and angry looking--it was just disturbing.
Why are you the only person smiling in the room, Joe? Please, let us in on the joke.
Courtesy The Washington Post
I think Joe did what the campaign needed him to do. They needed him to come out and look aggressive against the young guy. Or, as Paul Ryan so perfectly put it, "Mr. Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don't keep interrupting each other."
But what ended up happening was Biden delivering one of the least civil debate performances I've ever seen.
What started out as a strong performance quickly lost the facade of competence and gave way to the condescending face of frustration. Biden seemed to unravel during the Afghanistan conversation; he even went after the moderator--a definite no-no when you're trying to look like the one in control.
MS. RADDATZ: Let me go back to the surge troops that we put in there. And you brought this up, Congressman Ryan. I have talked to a lot of troops. I've talked to senior officers who were concerned that the surge troops were pulled out during the fighting season, and some of them saw that as a political — as a political move. So can you tell me, Vice President Biden, what was the military reason for bringing those surge troops home before the fighting season ended?
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: The military reason was bringing — by the way, when the president announced the surge — you'll remember, Martha — he said, the surge will be out by the end of the summer. The military said, the surge will be out. Nothing political about this. Before the surge occurred — so you be a little straight with me here, too — before the surge occurred, we said, they'll be out by the end of the summer. That's what the military said. The reason for that is —
MS. RADDATZ: Military follows orders. They — I mean, there — trust me, there are people —
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Sure —
MS. RADDATZ: — who were concerned about pulling out on the fighting season.
"So you be a little straight with me here, too." He said, pointing at the female moderator. Um, no.
Courtesy FOX News
Martha Raddatz did a good job, asking hard questions of both men and keeping Joe in check. And I can't help but think that she didn't appreciate having Joe's strobe-light teeth bared at her during that exchange--because she didn't just take it. She came back and didn't let him off the hook.
Ryan, on the other hand, came across as cool and calm. Could he have been a little more engaging? I think so.
One of the greatest unsaid lines was a slap back against Joe talking about Romney-Ryan needing to take responsibility. It would have been a great chance to say, "Really, Joe? How about you and Barack Obama taking responsibility for the last four years instead of blaming the last administration? How about taking responsibility for a failed foreign policy, a failed economic policy, and a failed healthcare policy? Who's been in charge for the last four years, Joe?"
But he didn't lose anything for the ticket, and he was able to keep a handle on things despite Biden's baiting. Ryan was especially strong on Afghanistan and domestic policy--and Joe wasn't smiling so much during those segments.
I don't think either man changed many minds tonight. But I do think that Biden gave us all a glimpse at the frustration and desperation within the Obama campaign to keep control of this election.
The first round of debates in the 2012 presidential election went solidly in Mitt Romney's camp on Wednesday evening. I'd say he won the debate within the first 15 minutes.
Both men came out looking presidential, but it quickly became obvious that Romney was there to debate, while Obama was there to be The Great Leader--unquestioned and unchallenged in his views and statements. We saw how four years of a pathetic press corps and an insular administration can atrophy the mental muscle of a politician who relies on lies and one-liners...and it was beautiful.
The winning attitude for Romeny was this--he didn't accept the premise of any of Obama's lies. Obama kept repeating that Romney would have $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in defense spending increases. And every single time Romney slapped that back and refused to let Obama get away with lying about the facts. And he defended his tax plan against the typical talking points parroted by Obama. "I know that you and your running mate keep saying that, and I know that's a popular thing to say with some people, but it's just not the case," Romney said. "Look, I've got five boys. I'm used to people saying something that's not always true but just keep repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it. But that is not the case."
There were many other great moments, but the other one that stood out was Romney schooling Obama on energy taxes and breaks. Obama took after Exxon and "Big Oil," saying that they got a $4 billion tax break. Obama said:
The oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. Basically, they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to, they don't get. Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money, when they're making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn't we want to eliminate that? Why wouldn't we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is, if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it. And Romney totally destroyed the talking point:
First of all, the Department of Energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year. And it's actually an accounting treatment, as you know, that's been in place for a hundred years. Now...
OBAMA: It's time to end it.
ROMNEY: And in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now, I like green energy as well, but that's about 50 years' worth of what oil and gas receives. And you say Exxon and Mobil. Actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth.
But, you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course it's on the table. That's probably not going to survive you get that rate down to 25 percent.
But don't forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years' worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don't just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this — this is not — this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.
Love. And excellent usage of "Solyndra!"
After their initial, 15-minute exchange, it was clear that Obama was lost. He was caught in the undertow and never got his feet back under him. The only time his condescending, nose-in-the-air stance appeared was briefly during the Obamacare discussion, but that was quickly replaced by his posture of the night--eyes downcast, standing off balance, unwilling to confront Romney.
Now, I did think that at the beginning Romney's confidence had the danger of coming off as being too aggressive and impolite. He seemed to talk over the moderator and looked too eager to slap at the president. (Not that I minded, but it could have looked that way to the meek and diffident lefties out there.)
In fact, I'm not so sure that part of the Obama strategy was to let Romney look overly aggressive, as Obama submitted to him several times. Because the people who might still have a swing vote might not necessarily want a "cowboy" personality. It's just not nice.
But Romney reined it in and struck the balance between defending his record, getting out his message, and owning the night.
Now the Romney campaign just has to be prepared for every leftist talking head, writer, and blogger in the media to come after them to do the job Obama wasn't willing or able to do.
The questions were fair, the moderator was excellent--letting the debaters truly have the stage while maintaining the forum of the evening--and the politicians allowed their true colors to come through.