Breaking Down Last Night's Presidential Debate

If you didn’t watch the presidential debate last night, let me start off by saying that–for me, at least–it was surprising. I was expecting Obama’s charisma to take center-stage, with Romney awkwardly attempting (but failing) to get across his plans for our future. I certainly was not alone in this assumption. In my opinion, recent history and expectations were proved wrong last night when these anticipated roles of each candidate were, in many ways, reversed.
Obama seemed nervous and unprepared, while Romney presented himself as confident and well-versed in the domestic issues discussed. James Carville, a campaign advisor to former President Bill Clinton, described this relationship perfectly when he said “Mitt Romney came in with a chainsaw.”
Last night’s debate left viewers, myself included, saying “what happened?” In the words of my ultra-liberal friends that I watched the debate with, “Obama screwed up.” 

With the election just 32 days away, last night’s debate was incredibly important in the determination of our country’s future. In every election, the presidential debates give voters the chance to hear each candidate explain themselves without a teleprompter. Unlike standard stump speeches which allow a candidate to prepare and, often, lie about their opponent, debates reveal truths because the candidates are forced to answer to one another. Debates allow us, as voters, to see if our candidates really know what they’re talking about.
The debate last night showed us exactly that.
Republicans and Romney supporters were gleaming with excitement last night as they watched their presidential pick dominate in the battle against Obama. Even Democrats and Obama supporters agreed that Obama was not on his game last night. According to a CNN poll conducted after the debate, 67% of debate viewers polled felt Romney won, while one in four thought Obama was victorious.
While a majority of viewers agreed Romney was victorious, some commentators felt last night’s debate was yet another example of Mitt Romney flip-flopping on his views. He has seemingly gone from being extremely conservative to more moderate. Similarly, other commentators have said Romney won because he skimped on the details of his policies and remained vague. This has, understandably, long been a complaint of Romney’s opponents. We can’t just vote for our next president based on vague ideas and concepts. We need our president to promise substantial, tangible policies for our future. With this I wholeheartedly agree. In last night’s debate, I was really hoping to see both candidates debunk some of the lies surrounding each of their campaigns and further explain their proposed policies.
Considering I started off watching the debate with the assumption that Obama would dominate, I was surprised to see that Romney was actually pretty impressive. Two points stand out:
1. He de-bunked the lies.
How many times have you heard Romney’s opponents say “Romney plans to cut education spending” or “He’s going to cut taxes for the rich and raise taxes on the middle class?” I’ve heard these lies too many times to count, and I was really excited to see Romney look straight into the camera and deny these false accusations:
“My view is that we gotta provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re president or I am. The people who are having a hard time right now are middle-income Americans. Under the president’s policies, middle-income Americans have been buried.”
There you have it, folks.
2. He knows how to work “across the aisle.” 
With the hyper-partisanship (political parties in extreme disagreement) that exists in our country today, it feels like no budget will ever be passed and the Democrats and Republicans will continue to fight across the aisle. This phrase, “working across the aisle” basically explains the idea of Republicans and Democrats working together. Working across the aisle, in my opinion, is one of the most important promises any presidential candidate can make. Without this promise, it will be impossible to get anything done in this country.
One of Romney’s quotes from last night regarding this issue really stands out for me:
“I had the great experience–it didn’t seem like it as the time–of being elected to a state where the legislature was 87% Democrat…and that meant I figured out from day one, I had to get along, and I had to work across the aisle to get anything done.”
Here he appealed to everyone that sees the problems with our hyper-partisan government. I was proud to see someone finally address this issue.
While the debate had, in the opinion of many viewers, a clear winner, there are still two more presidential debates and one vice presidential debate to watch. Last night’s debate was certainly interesting, but I’m really looking forward to the upcoming days when we get to hear even more about what each candidate, sans teleprompter, plans to do with our country. Stay tuned!

What did you think about the debate? Did it have any impact on your vote in November? Disagree with anything I have to say? Tell me in the comments!

Ashley is a sophomore majoring in International Affairs with a minor in English. Each week, Ashley will be discussing current events involving the upcoming presidential election. Check in every week to find out what’s going on in the election world and read one college girl’s opinion on the issues!
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"The First Time" Trailer and the Return of the Iconic Teen Movie
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